How Procore Intertwines Data and Product

Interana Blog StaffAugust 03, 2017

Procore Technologies, Inc., provides cloud-based construction management software. The company aims to help construction projects run efficiently by streamlining communication and documentation.

Founder and CEO Craig “Tooey” Courtemanche started the company in 2002 after working with contractors to build his own house. He wanted to make communicating with contractors easier, so he created a web-based tool for combining different channels of communication. With his significant experience in both construction and software, he got Procore up on its feet. Now, the company has $179 million in total equity funding and recently raised $50 million.

The platform combines four different suites of tools: Core OS, which connects people, applications, and devices in one system; Project Management, which keeps all project materials together; Quality & Safety, which assesses the quality of work through real-time data; and Construction Financials, which logs costs in real time. These systems keep construction project data in one place, so that everyone can communicate about data and make informed decisions.

Data insights play a key role in how these systems run. Specifically, data and product inform each other in order to create meaningful features for the user. We talked to Procore’s Chris Karcher and Zaira Tomayeva to learn how this data-product relationship works.

procore homepage

Chris is a product manager at Procore. He has been at the company for about three years, starting on the R&D team doing user research and usability studies.

Zaira is a UX researcher on the R&D team. She started as a prototype engineering intern; now, she has been with Procore for about two years. She does both quantitative and qualitative research.

Engineering squads and R&D encourage data collaboration

Procore’s engineering team is broken up into squads. Each one has a product manager (like Chris), a UX engineer, a frontend developer, a backend engineer, and a QA engineer. The system was inspired by Spotify’s engineering squads.

Spotify engineering squads Spotify’s engineering squads served as inspiration for Procore’s team.

Squads comes up with metrics to measure the success of the tools they're building. Chris's squad, for example, recently worked on a redesign of their Photos tool, part of their Project Management suite.

As part of the R&D team, Zaira collaborates with engineering squads and design teams to make data-informed decisions about the product.

INTERANA: Do you mind explaining what your role as a researcher is here?

ZAIRA: As a researcher, I do both quantitative data research and qualitative research. On the data side, I work with the designers pretty closely. I show them how their tools are doing. Whenever they make changes, I see how those changes are shown in the user behavior. For example, if we change a button name, I can see if that button's being used more because it's more discoverable.

INTERANA: Once you discover these insights, do you pass it on then to the designers and the product team and then it influences features or changes?

ZAIRA: Yeah. Exactly.

Researchers and designers have a mutual relationship. In the same way that Zaira’s insights influence the designer’s product decisions, the designers help decide what insights Zaira seeks.

INTERANA: In terms of your thought process when it comes to asking questions, does the first question you have generally give you the insights you're looking for? Or do you find that you end up playing around and exploring and asking more questions based on the results you see?

ZAIRA: I sometimes ask more questions. If the data comes back not what I was expecting it to be, that's when I would do further research. But as far as the questions I ask, I'll talk to the designers. I'll figure out what's interesting to them, and then from there I'll figure out what events I have and how I can use those to get them the answers that they need, or close enough to the answers that they need.

Measuring the impact of feature releases

Asking data-informed questions is second-nature for Chris and Zaira, thanks to their R&D backgrounds. Using their data knowledge, they carefully choose metrics and use data to measure the impact of real product changes.

INTERANA: Have you ever had a hypothesis about your product, made a small change, and used Interana to see what the impact was after that change was made?

CHRIS: Yeah, we have a whole dashboard called Release Impact Tracking for this. We create a metric for a tool and see how it changes once a feature is released. For one tool, for example, we would let users create a Procore object from a template. We wanted to see what percentage of all the objects that were being created came from a template. Success, in this case, would be a large percentage of objects being created from the template because that would indicate that people are using the new feature. So, we created this dashboard and, since the feature was released two weeks or so ago, the percentage steadily increased from 17 to 23 percent. It's cool to check in on that and see that we're making a huge impact here.

Using insights to support product & design decisions

Procore’s designers made pivotal changes to the product, using data insights from Interana to back up their decisions.

INTERANA: What's an example of a behavioral insight that you gained from Interana that helped support product decisions or UX initiatives?

ZAIRA: At one point, we added a Bulk Edit feature. There are multiple things you can bulk edit, and so that feature brought up all the options. When we implemented that, we made sure to track all of the options, so we could see what was being used most. Now, we can just rearrange them on that form based on what users are more likely to click. You can make more informed choices based off of that.

ZAIRA: As another example, just yesterday, I was looking at one where we added a Previous and Next button to one of our items. That's been adopted like crazy since we put it out. Someone in UX wanted that feature on a lot of different tools, but it got a lot of pushback. So, now that we have the feature on one tool and can show that it's being used really well, it'll be easier to convince everyone else to implement it on other tools.

When data supports a gut feeling

INTERANA: Did you see insane adoption of any other feature that you rolled out? 

ZAIRA: For about a year, one designer wanted to make a wording change and just got pushed back. Finally he just said, "Nope, we're changing it. We're just going to do it. Sorry." Since he made that change, usage skyrocketed just because the wording was clearer to everyone. I really like that one.

INTERANA: Which feature was that?

ZAIRA: So to see a drawing, we had select View and also Full Screen, I think. Or we had Open and Full Screen. Open, you would assume just opens the Blueprints, but it didn't. It opened the info page to the blueprints. From there, you could click to see the actual blueprints. A lot of people didn't even do that because it wasn't very discoverable. So the designer just changed it to Info and View. After that, so many more people began looking at the blueprints, and fewer people started looking at the info by accident.

Even though not everyone initially agreed on these product changes, the design team explained their decisions with data. In the end, these changes yielded meaningful results.

Continuous exploration

Chris and Zaira continue to ask new questions through Interana, strengthening the relationship between product and data.

INTERANA: Let's say you start with a data question. Do you typically find that the insights you get make you curious to ask more questions?

CHRIS: Oh yeah. Pretty much always.

INTERANA: And so comparing Interana to tools you've used or other processes you've seen, how would you rate its flexibility? Is it useful to you?

CHRIS: Yeah. I think once you know the things we capture, you're able to come up with more questions. Like I can go this level deeper. Maybe it’s insightful to look at something on a per company basis, or on a per project basis, cutting it up that way.

With its flexibility and ease of use, Interana enables Chris and Zaira to ask questions freely. Zaira attributes this ease to the straightforward interface and no need for query language. This usability has helped Procore unlock the potential of its data.

INTERANA: Any key takeaway that you have for Procore's Interana usage and for making data-informed decisions with Interana?

ZAIRA: I feel like Procore's always been a company that's been trying to be data-driven, at least as long as I've been here. I think Interana has definitely made it easier to be data-driven and more accessible. We've always had that data. We're the ones who are collecting it, but it's just been a lot easier to get what you want out of this interface.

Data and product go hand in hand

With Interana, Procore can routinely use data to inform its product decisions. Data insights inform how the product can improve; product performance shows which questions to ask. As part of the collaboration between engineering squads and the R&D team, Chris and Zaira both influence and are influenced by the product. Allowing data and product to continuously shape each other -- and having the right analytics in place to allow for that -- creates a more collaborative, data-informed culture.

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