I wish I knew how to code

I wish I knew how to code

21 November 2022

If you are a product owner or a business stakeholder, in the digital era, you must work closely with a tech team in a product development lifecycle. When there is a new product or a new product feature, it must be programmed into existing systems. You spend hours writing detailed business requirements and explaining your model logic to developers so they can translate your business logic into code.


Unfortunately, for developers to accurately implement business logic (minor or major) in systems requires rounds and rounds of discussions. A product development lifecycle can take months – sometimes years – due to back-and-forth communications between business and  development teams.


You wish you could code and be in control so products can be launched quicker in response to the everchanging market.



Business Stakeholders are from Mars, Developers are from Venus


A product development process is seldom a smooth process because business and technical stakeholders speak “different languages.” Same grammar, same words, but different jargons and terms make it difficult for them to understand each other. True communication intentions can be distorted by words getting lost in translation.


When business stakeholders talk to developers, they speak with assumed business concepts and terms in mind. It is the same the other way around when developers speak with technical jargons. To work effectively together, both parties need to find a common language to communicate.


What if no one needs to spend time adjusting to language and everyone can focus on what they are good at?


What If I Can “Code” without Learning How to Code?


In the insurance sector, insurance product owners and stakeholders are typically actuaries who use Excel to build, structure, and price insurance products. Actuaries have product logic formulated in Excel spreadsheets.


If these complex product spreadsheets can be ‘translated’ into code that works with various systems with minimal effort:


  • You are in control! You can create, optimize and/or edit business logic in your own programming language, i.e. Excel.
  • No time is wasted. No business requirement document nor rounds of meetings are needed for the development team to understand (and appreciate) complex Excel models. Everyone can focus on their expertise.
  • Communication gap can be avoided as business and tech stakeholders are no longer required to speak the language of the other side.
  • Product development cycles can therefore be shortened. A win-win situation.


Spreadsheet as “Code”


Coherent Spark makes possible for Excel spreadsheets to be run in systems seamlessly. This is because Spark can turn Excel spreadsheets into APIs, i.e. codes that run as an interface for other systems to work with.


When you upload a spreadsheet to Spark, it becomes a standalone API. The upload process only takes a few seconds, then you will receive a functional API that contains all the model logic. Changes made in the Excel spreadsheet can also be reflected in the API immediately. With that, actuaries or business stakeholders can continue to use their familiar Excel programming language to “code their APIs.”


What do APIs have to do with product lifecycles?


Now that you have a product available in the systems through the ready-to-integrate API generated by Spark, you wish to enable your distributors with an informative and personalized sales experience to increase product sales.


Create Applications – Quickly and Easily


One of the typical usages of the Spark generated API can be illustrated by Coherent Explainer. Explainer is a functional application builder. It brings quotes, illustrations, and scenarios to life so your sales team can deliver a personalized sales experience. Explainer allows non-technical users to quickly create functional applications based on your own business logic and user interface preference.


A traditional application development process involves business to work with developers to build out a user interface, followed by translating the business logic into code for quotation illustration.


The same pain points we discussed previously apply. The additional complication is the user interface element which requires discussions on the user experience and design. Different product may have different user interface and different business logic; therefore, creating a function application for each insurance product takes time.


Building UI with Spreadsheet


With Coherent Spark and Explainer, this process can be lightning fast with minimal effort.


Explainer has two essential components, the UI configurator, and the product API. The Explainer UI configurator allows business users with no coding knowledge to build a custom UI by using just an Excel spreadsheet. The product API is responsible for the calculations and can be generated by Spark.


Make Your Own Product Illustration Application


You can create your own customized product illustration application with Explainer in just three steps:


  1. Select an application template from our template library, then connect it with your Excel model with all the business logic of your product
  2. Customize your application all in the same Excel model
  3. Upload the model to Spark to generate an API


If you want to build different UIs or logic for different distributors or marketing promotions of the same product, the only thing you need is to make a copy of the Excel model, adjust the configurations and/or business logic, then upload to Spark to generate multiple APIs with the variations you need.


Reusable API for frictionless integration


Spark can generate many other use cases of the product API. You can re-use the product API in any system that requires product pricing information. Developers will find integrating with product API frictionless as this is a common practice to utilize different APIs in the tech realm.


Please talk to us if you are looking for innovative ways to improve your product development cycles, or if you want to learn Spark and Explainer further.

Winnie Hung

Product Lead for Coherent Explainer & Managing Director, Actuarial

Winnie plays a dual roles as the Product Lead for Coherent Explainer and a Managing Director of the actuarial team leading client projects. She helps insurers advance their distribution strategy and makes insurers’ aspirations of personalized customer experiences a reality.
Winnie has over 15 years of experience in actuarial consulting and insurance industries in Hong Kong and the US, focusing on retirement benefits, institutional investments, insurance asset & liability management, and digital transformation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *