Reimagining Escrow Transactions


Spruce is a (B2B, SaaS) technology-driven real estate services company that provides title and closing services to enable real estate and mortgage transactions across the U.S. Spruce provides title search, policy, settlement, and escrow—by pairing intuitive software with real, human expertise.

The problem

The accounting team has to manually enter each incoming and outgoing transaction for every order, leading to repetitive tasks and potential errors. The system displayed irrelevant information, required repetitive data entry, and did not adhere to standard ledger and financial statement formats. This is a problem because reduces operational efficiency, increases the risk of inaccuracies, and fails to uphold the expected norms for maintaining financial records and reporting.

Project Type

Desktop WebApp (Internal Facing)

My Role

Lead Product Designer

Team Structure

Product Manager, Director of Design, FE + BE Engineers


4 Months

Success Metrics

Task completion, user adoption, and satisfaction

Phase 1 – Discovery

Service Blueprinting

After the project started, I decided to hold a service blueprint workshop so that I might better comprehend how everything worked from end to end from the finance team’s viewpoint. I began to form a few hypotheses and used them as guidance to determine what were the next steps. I needed to understand:

  • “What happens when a new order is opened?”
  • “What occurs at the end?”
  • “What happens when something goes wrong, should anything go wrong?”
  • “If something goes wrong, what are the steps for reconciliation?”
  • “What does a successful fully funded order look like?”
  • “Are there any other software(s)/App(s) being used outside of the platform?”

This exercise served as a check on our knowledge of the business. We were able to iterate our understanding of the business process. We started to uncover current inefficiencies by asking questions so that we could trace back an issue if one occurred.

(Fig. 1 — Collaborative Service Blueprint Exercise)


The workshop was an essential piece that helped me to continue exploring ways to close gaps in my understanding. It was clear that the current flow and UI were performing suboptimal and weren’t up to standards with the industry. With a birds-eye view, it became easier to generate and test ideas to determine which of the changes had a positive impact on users without risk to the business.

I saw the need to create the ability to visualize multiple processes and their sequences of the proposed solution into a single document. Ultimately, it enabled us to have better conversations, efficiency increase, and proper documentation.

(Fig. 2 — Flowchart)

Observing Accountants

In most sessions, important details of an order were captured and stored on stickies on their desks. Accountants also used “alt + F” to search a transaction from a long list of running transactions. Another important insight I captured was the need for collaboration tools to streamline tasks, reminders, and comments.

(Fig. 3 — Observation sessions with the accounting team)

Phase 2 – Define

Interpreting The Findings

In a world of competing priorities, it made more sense to lean towards solving business needs due to the risks discovered. After a prioritization session, I began conducting a UX audit on the current UI. It allowed the team to see and iterate on broken processes which we’re confident would help inform future decisions.

The Real Estate Ops team had to manually input every incoming transaction and outgoing disbursement on a per-order basis. Much of this information was already captured in the platform. The input of the transactions was repetitive and left a lot of room for manual error. After an extensive interview with the Ops team, and funders both in NY and in TX, this was identified as the most urgent, important feature added to streamline workflows.

(Fig. 4 — UX Audit, Feature Roadmap Prioritization)

Phase 3 – Experimentation

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

After the workshop, there were new considerations that arose that I had to be mindful of. After talking with engineers the biggest concern that came up was the architecture of the platform, micro-services. One downfall of micro-services is that the entire system is more complex, and it becomes harder to track down issues without additional tooling, whereas the monolith applications were self-contained, and were typically not as hard to debug. 
So with the new learnings from talking with users in mind, and aligning with engineering, we (product + design) prioritized work accordingly. 

(Fig. 5 — UX Audits & Iterations)

Solution 1 – New Feature

Escrow Matching

The matching process begins with the import of transactions, followed by the execution of the auto-match process, confirmation of suggested matches, and creation of manual matches.
This tool can match large numbers of transactions quickly and identify unmatched transactions, allowing accounting staff to focus on matching the most complex transactions and performing analysis. After Matching is complete, the platform stores confirmed matches and provide suggested matches as well as any unmatched transactions for review by the Finance team for account reconciliation. 
Equipped with this information, the Finance team is able to focus time and effort on investigating only the most challenging exceptions.

(Fig. 6 — Escrow Transactions)

(Fig. 7 — Escrow Transactions, transaction management)

Solution 2 – New Feature

Split Transactions

The Split Transaction feature allows you to divide up a transaction into multiple categories. This allows users to split most posted transactions (including negative ones) by a dollar amount, or percentage. The primary reason for splitting a transaction is to allocate portions (splits) of the transaction to different accounts. 

(Fig. 7 — Split Transactions)



New timelines, resourcing issues, and reprioritization meant the scope of the project was constantly changing. I had to adapt to those changes and still deliver the best design in time with tight deadlines. 
We identified many problems, that differed from the initially stated problem, then collected all of our insights. These insights led the business team to change direction. If you have evidence to support it, don’t hesitate to propose a pivot or make a change. Thanks to our efforts, we were able to advocate for the users more effectively and develop a solution that increased their efficiency and improved the business.