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Cassandra Tang

Senior Product Designer @ Pleo

The Glow up of the Partner Experience / April 2022

To build intuitive experiences that effectively solves manual expense management, so that every accounting partner feels empowered to do their best work for all their clients.


The team consisted of 1 product manager, 3 FE engineers and 1 BE engineer. My role as a product designer included initial discovery, user research, explorations, validation testing and visual design.


Pleo is an expense management solution for forward thinking teams. Employees make expenses, admins review them and bookkeepers handle the rest. As for accounting partners, they empower their own clients with Pleo's smart company cards.

Created in 2020, the partner portal served as a tool for accounting partners to manage all their clients and expenses. It was built as an MVP that only served as a gateway for partners to access their clients' Pleo accounts. Then it had a glow up. This is the story of how that came about (in a short summary).

Photo of a bookkeeper handling paper receipts

The Problem

The partner portal did not provide much value to accounting partners other than being a gateway to access their clients' accounts. Commercial insights from the partnerships team led to the definition of the MVP of the partner portal 2.0.

When partners log in, they should have one main page where they can see the following:

  • Easier client and task management
  • Overview of missing receipts and expenses ready to be exported
  • Nudges on pending tasks (email notifications)

Abstract diagram illustrating the partner portal and opportunities


With this project, there were two main objectives:

  • To understand how to enhance the user experience of the client page to increase engagement amongst partners
  • To better understand the roles of a partner admin and employee in an accounting practice

Working together with the User Research team, interviews with partners from various markets were carried out to identify pain points, current usage patterns as well as differences between admins and employees. All of this was then collected and broken down into tags and insights.

After some initial ideas and prototypes were created, two additional rounds of user testings were ran for validation testing. This was to ensure that the right thing was being built, and that the new features were intuitive and easy enough for the partners to use.

UI elements with note annotations Abstract diagram illustrating insights and key data points


There was a huge amount of new information and data being introduced into the portal. One of the biggest challenges was simplicity to ensure that the partner could focus on one thing at a time, without feeling overwhelmed.

Every partner had their own ideas of what would be great to have on the main client page. The product manager and I decided to review the interview transcripts, analyse and identify the most common requests, and then prioritised them accordingly based on the priority of actions we wanted to encourage on a specific page.

For example, detailed overviews of a client's account could live in a drawer which partners could easily access from the client page. By having it in a drawer, the partners are able to see key data points in the right sidebar, without navigating away from the main client page. The introduction of opt-in email notifications meant that the partner could always stay updated with their clients' accounts and resolve any pending actions.

UI of the partner portal client page UI of the partner portal detailed drawer


Following the two user testing sessions, iterations were made according to feedback and launched live. Instead of the Partner portal simply being a one-click gateway to their client's accounts, the new Partner Portal now offers a concise overview of a partner's clients with additional helpful actions to manage their accounts.

UI of the partner portal detailed drawer


Post release of the new client page, one recurring feedback was that partners were unaware that they had to be assigned to a client prior to having access to manage their account. After adding a tooltip that appears on hover over the disabled state, it still did not solve the problem as partners did not hover long enough to notice the tool tip and got frustrated.

Be proactive instead of reactive. The latest iteration involved transforming the disabled state into an actionable state for the partner. Instead of informing them what they had to do first, this can be reflected directly in the button action. As soon as they assigned the client to themselves, they could then manage their client's accounts. Once this improvement was live, the original problem was resolved as there were no further struggles with partners accessing a client's account.


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