8 tips for budget owner dashboards & inputs

  • 25 January 2023
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In order to create a single source of truth in Pigment, both for your team and for your budget owners, it’s important that they use it consistently. However, this is unlikely to happen if they don’t experience 4 key things:


  1. Trust that their needs and requirements have been understood and met

  2. Additional insights, functionality or visibility to what they have in the planning or spreadsheet tool they’re moving from, with which they’re likely more comfortable

  3. Consistency in how they’re asked to access, input and otherwise use data and insights

  4. Easy, clear onboarding and training specific to the processes they need to complete in Pigment


In order to achieve these 4 things, here are 8 best practices for designing effective budget owner dashboards and inputs in Pigment:


1 - Prioritize the user experience and requirements during the design process


When your Pigment implementation starts, it may be tempting to focus exclusively on the modeling and the outputs your team needs. However, our most successful customers in terms of adoption consider their business users from the very beginning. Here are a few ways you can ensure the finished product will serve them and their needs:


  • Create user profiles or personas, with information about what those users need to do, want to see, and what they will and won’t understand in Pigment. These can be shared with your Solution Architect so that any and all work is done with these users’ needs and inputs in mind. The best way to inform these is to actually interview users that fit each profile. You can present to them the goal of your project, why you need their involvement and discuss what they want out of it. What would motivate them to use a new tool?

  • Consider what inputs would be most impactful, and also what room for error you’re creating with those inputs. Can you design or articulate them in a way that reduces the risk of error? Errors can be mitigated by using conditional formatting, showing the different totals on input values, or showing KPIs that compare input value vs historical or expected data.

  • Create wireframes of your desired user flow once you’re ready to start on boards, and your Solution Architect can help you bring them to life. Only show what they want, and bring a meaningful hierarchy of information: start with the most impactful data, then give context, and then lead to the final inputs they should make.

  • When building boards to replace inputs or dashboards already in use, try to match the output and its visualization as closely as possible. This will help your users feel more comfortable and confident participating in processes, and they’re likely to trust outputs more if they look familiar to something they’re already using.

  • Validate the boards you create with users that fit the profiles you’re building for before you finalize them or create any onboarding materials. 


2 - Use buttons, text and different field types to add clarity and measurability


Charts and tables aren’t the only elements available in boards. Many customers overlook the value of using the text feature to help clarify the purpose of each board, how to use it and even each element of each board. 


You can also use buttons to help users navigate to other boards, allowing you to break up complex processes into multiple boards. We’ve even seen customers create “next step” and “previous step” buttons to help make their processes easier to navigate.


You can also make use of boolean fields to let your users keep track of which steps in a process they’ve completed, making it less likely that steps are skipped and creating more visibility for other teams, including yours.




3 - Combine insights and inputs to facilitate more data-driven decisions


Most of our customers have time savings as a key success metric when implementing Pigment. Did you know that good board design can help save you time when collaborating with your business users? That’s because they offer the opportunity for you to put information in front of your users proactively before they make a request or change, meaning less time spent exchanging that information further down the line.


For example, including information about budget usage on the same board where headcount requests are initiated can help that budget owner run scenarios or assess options autonomously before submitting the request, meaning it’s more likely to be approved, saving Finance or Talent Acquisition time on back-and-forth. Any indication you can give your users about the impact of their requests will help them make more data-driven decisions and save you time.


Giving access to meaningful insights based on data you already have in Pigment is a very good way to improve business user adoption. Our customers consistently report that having users use Pigment to check on their data is the best way to also make them input the relevant data with the most care and granularity, giving you better data to start your forecast and planning.


4 - Create better visibility around the process for everyone involved


One of the best ways to save time and improve collaboration is to create better visibility around collaborative processes. This is especially true for more complex processes like annual planning, but it’s also true for smaller, more repetitive processes like expense requests. 


When you have budget owners contributing to processes in Pigment, it’s helpful to visualize the progress of that process within their boards. For example, displaying the status of all headcount requests they’ve made, or even indicating which team or individual the process is with at the moment.





5 - Leverage notifications, collaboration and automations


Pigment offers a wide variety of collaborative features, like commenting, tagging and automations. Make use of those features to drive your users back to Pigment, specifically to the board, widget and even row they need to look at. By pointing them in the right direction, you’re removing the hassle of letting them find their way in a tool they don’t know as well as you do.


6 - Structure your application with your business users in mind


While the bulk of your blocks will be structured according to your modeling needs, it’s important that your application’s boards are easy to navigate for your business users. This means they should be named clearly and in a way that will make sense for the target user. 


You should also maintain an application guide board which explains naming conventions, how to complete key processes, and any other important application-wide information that will help familiarize your users.


7 - Don’t underestimate the power of visual design


With a name like Pigment, it’s no surprise that we believe wholeheartedly in the power of color and good design! It helps users navigate confidently within unfamiliar environments, and you have the ability within your boards to do exactly that for your users.


It doesn’t have to be complex; even just using conditional formatting to change the color of a cell based on input or status can help. Not only does it keep your users informed, but it can also help guide them to where their input is required.




8 - Create onboarding materials specific to each process or persona

Our academy may be useful for basic Pigment terminology, structure and resources, but your users will likely need guidance specific to the process they need to contribute to in your workspace.


One of the most effective ways you can do that is with video. By creating a short video guide for each stage of the process and linking to it in a text widget or action button on the board, you can make sure your users have specific visual guidance at every stage of the process.


If your budget owners are using Pigment consistently and enthusiastically, what do you think made the biggest difference? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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