efOnline: Roadmap for the future.

An interview with project manager Michael Petrovic, efcom gmbh

1. As project manager you are responsible for the continuous development of the efOnline web application. What is currently in the pipeline or what are you and your team currently working on?

Michael Petrovic: We are currently in the final testing phase of the redesign of efOnline. Our testing team is checking all areas functionally and in terms of usability, but also the mobile version. I have to say that the tests are simply fun: The new design is really very successful in my eyes, the performance of the interface is very smooth and fast overall. I can hardly wait until our first customers can go live with this version soon.

The background to this is that we also want to enable factoring staff to work with efOnline. This is an essential building block for further expansion stages. The basic aim is to bring more and more functions from ef3 to efOnline. In this context, we still have some developments in the pipeline, which we have defined within the framework of a multi-year roadmap. So it remains exciting and dynamic at efOnline!


2. What aspects were the focus of the current further development of efOnline? What was particularly important to you?

Michael Petrovic: On the one hand, the mobile view was important to us, but on the other hand, very good usability was also important. A connecting customer should not need any training to be able to use efOnline. In our view, everything should be where you would expect it to be. This is a big challenge – especially if you are already too familiar with the subject yourself.

Since we want to use the new design for several years to come, the maintainability of the code is of course enormously important. That’s why, especially in the early days, we took great care to create a stable and clear basis – with success.


3. Did you and your team rely on certain technologies, programming languages? What benefits did you expect from them, especially for the users?

Michael Petrovic: Web development has changed a lot in recent years. In the past, you didn’t have much choice in terms of technologies. For example, there was PHP, some CSS for the frontend and Javascript for a few effects. Today, the world looks very different. There is a multitude of programming languages and frameworks for the backend as well as for the frontend. Making the right future-proof choice here was not very easy. When we started with efOnline, we took a risk with NodeJS because no one knew for sure whether this technology would catch on. As it turns out today, it was the right decision at the time!

We had to make similar decisions when changing the framework for the redesign. Here, for example, we had the choice between React, VueJS or Angular. But I think we also made the right decision here with Angular.


4. To what extent have individual customers and end users also had the opportunity to contribute to the further development of efOnline?

Michael Petrovic: We let individual customers participate in the prototype phase of the redesign. This cooperation already in the development phase was particularly important to us, after all, we wanted and still want to develop a product that is absolutely practical and covers as many eventualities as possible in the workday. You simply have to rely on the experience and know-how of customers, who work with it every day and know much better what makes sense and what does not. This has also spurred us on to think further and further and to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes as best we can. A fruitful cooperation in any case!

From a purely implementation point of view, the integration of external participants was not a problem, as we first created the new design only as an interactive prototype. It was easy to try out and visualise all the changes before they were implemented. We even went one step further and gave the client’s entire company access to the prototype. This allowed us to get “fresh and unbiased” opinions. I think all this led to what I consider a successful redesign.


5. With whom did you implement the current project together?

Michael Petrovic: From the beginning, it was important to us to do things right and not to work hastily or with false compromises. Therefore, after an intensive search, we decided to work with an external, professional UX designer. The chemistry was right from the start and we were able to do some really great project work with him.

The subsequent implementation of the redesign was carried out by our partner GORA in Slovenia. There, the frontend framework was converted and completely rewritten on the basis of the prototype. We have a long-standing partnership with GORA that we can really rely on. They know efOnline like the back of their hand and already helped with the initial development a few years ago. So we didn’t have to do any additional training and could start right away.


6. What are your further plans for efOnline? How will the product develop in the future?

Michael Petrovic: As already mentioned, the current redesign is part of our overall roadmap for the next few years. We want to continue to expand the areas of connection customers and thus ensure even more transparency in the processes. Ultimately, it is about outsourcing work to the connection customers in a meaningful way.

A central point is also to move more and more functions from the backend system ef3 to efOnline. In the long run, we want to achieve that the factoring employee only works with efOnline. All automated and computationally intensive tasks should continue to be done in the background in ef3, but the interfaces for the daily work should take place in efOnline. These are quite ambitious plans that we have with efOnline. But we don’t want to stand still, we want to develop our products and services optimally. For me, it is simply very exciting to be able to coordinate the whole project!