How we use the 3 C’s to build a successful product

Communication, Collaboration and Coordination: How we use the 3 C’s to build a successful product

Vaas is on a mission to democratize access to debt in Latin America. We believe that achieving this goal will have a significant impact on the quality of life of everyone in the region. However, we also acknowledge that this journey will not be easy, and we must face challenges step by step.

In 2022, our first objective was to create a process that automates the reconciliation between two of the most important metrics in structured debt, Outstanding Principal Balance and the value of the Collateral, allowing our clients to request capital calls or cash releases in minutes. To achieve this, we focused on building a robust calculation engine capable of processing complex valuation rules while remaining flexible enough to adapt to the variety of contracts between borrowers and lenders.

Our plan was clear and concise, and we were ready to execute it. However, we soon realized a crucial complexity that we had overlooked – our clients’ dollar-denominated contracts required FX hedging, and the person responsible for executing reconciliations and capital calls also managed these positions. In fact, one of the reasons that prevents users from requesting more frequent cash releases is time allocated to Hedging tasks.

Communication: Making Sure Everyone Understands the Problem

The first step into developing a successful product consists of understanding the problem. You need to “fall in love with the problem, not the solution”, i.e. understand its root causes and implications, averting bias toward a specific solution.To understand our FX Hedge challenge, our Capital Markets team, with the most experience in the industry and direct contact with our clients, shadowed reconciliation sessions and conducted research interviews with our Product and Design teams. We identified the position management problem as a major pain point interfering with the reconciliation process. Once that was understood, effective and timely communication allowed us to understand the need for flexibility in our project scope to achieve our primary goal of accelerating capital calls – it was convenient to cover fewer reconciliation features in exchange for a tool FX hedge management.

Collaboration: Finding the Best Solution Among Teams

Once the problem is understood in detail, it’s time to define the best solution. This typically involves imagining an end-game solution first, followed by a plan of subsequent solutions, starting with an MVP. At this stage it’s particularly important to avoid falling in love with a specific solution – failing fast is how teams normally achieve the best result in the long run. And the best way of iterating new solutions is close collaboration of teams. To design a functional, simple, and effective FX Hedge management experience in time, we worked in compact teams with representatives from Product, Design, Capital Markets, and Engineering. The team’s autonomy resulted in agile decision-making while balancing expertise and delivering a new, well-aligned scope proposal in record time. These dynamics were the reason we concentrated on FX Hedge position management and quickly dropped the idea of helping with the negotiation process itself.

Coordination: Flawless Execution

After identifying the problem through effective communication and collaborating between teams on a solution plan, discipline is required to execute it with excellence. At this stage, coordination across teams is critical to prioritize important tasks. In our experience, (close to) flawless execution comes when critical tasks are planned ahead. In our FX Hedge project, we prepared a schedule to test, correct bugs, and present demos to our closest partners. The effort was put on contemplating mitigating actions for extreme scenarios rather than a milimetric Gantt diagram. When it was time for the rollout, everything went smoothly, and we delivered the expected functionality to our most important clients without affecting our previous services.

As Jeff Bezos famously said, “Be stubborn on the vision but flexible on the details.” While we often highlight the first part of this quote, the ability to be flexible on the details is equally important. At Vaas, we rely on the pillars of Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination to become more flexible in the details every day.

We are committed to democratizing access to debt in Latin America, and we will continue to work tirelessly towards our goal, tackling challenges one step at a time.

By: Mauro Berzosa

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