Digging into Spring19: Increased Usability from a Modern UI

Digging into Spring19: Increased Usability from a Modern UI

This is the second in a four-part series digging deeper into our Spring19 product release. The series helps illustrate how finance teams can use these new features and capabilities to accelerate, streamline, or otherwise improve their daily and periodic activities.

We’ve packed hundreds of changes into Spring19, but we’ve distilled them down to four areas of impact. Here’s where our customers will see the most value from Spring19:

  1. Enhanced Workflows
  2. Modern User Experience
  3. Greater Control
  4. Extended data Integrations

People demand a modern user interface and experience in everything from smartphone apps to enterprise software. You can blame Apple for making software look, feel, and work in an effortless, intuitive manner. Since everyone looks to that experience as a model for usability, we’re working hard to make Planful applications nearly as simple and intuitive.

Where the rubber hits the road, or rather, where the click hits the application is the user interface. And even though Planful software does some incredibly complex functions, it has to be nearly effortless for our finance users. It also has to be easy for finance so that they don’t need to rely on IT or other technical resources to, say, build reports or create dashboards.

Every product release has user interface improvements based on feedback from customers and our observations of how people use our software every day. In Spring19, we’ve made a concerted effort to make specific areas, tasks, or functions significantly faster or easier to accomplish with fewer clicks. Some of it happens in the background, which you’ll never see, while some of it will be crystal clear to our regular users. When you put it all together, Spring19 makes our application easier to navigate and easier to use, all with less time waiting in between clicks.

Here are just a few areas where our Spring19 enhancements make for increased usability.

Navigation Ribbon in Spotlight and Modeling

We know that finance relies on Microsoft Excel, as well as Word and PowerPoint. Those apps are ubiquitous and the files are easy to share and collaborate on, and finance still wants to work within them. That’s why we’ve put so much effort into developing Spotlight for Office, and we’ve doubled-down on that effort in Spring19.

The new ribbon menu within Excel will be the most apparent to our customers. Visually, the icons have been updated with a modern, more obvious look, and the overall ribbon has a more intuitive layout. We’ve also added secondary “right click” menus to convey more information and reduce the number of clicks per action. It makes for a more efficient workflow and lets finance do more with fewer clicks.

See More, Do More

The Spring19 usability enhancements expand beyond just Spotlight and Modeling, however. We’ve also added or enhanced other usability features within Spotlight and Modeling. It’s easier to zoom in and out, easier to interact with dynamic queries, and easier to navigate throughout the application.

Speaking of zoom, we’ve added full screen mode for Financial Reports in Spring19. That gives you more screen real estate to show more data and/or more information at one time. You’ll get a better view with much less scrolling, like in the example below.


Circling back to people, process, and technology, these UI enhancements have made the technology faster so finance can focus their time on doing more strategic work instead of clicking around or waiting on pages to refresh.

Intelligent Seeding for Plan Scenarios

You’re frequently building new budget and forecast scenarios by starting with your last budget, forecast, and actual results as a baseline set of data. The new intelligent seeding in Spring19 makes the scenario seeding process faster, easier, and more customizable by automating much of the background work and data coordination by making sure the right datasets are tapped and the right periods are filtered out. It also ensures that formulas copied into your new planning scenarios are automatically updated to account for the subtle customizations of a new scenario.

This is critical for two primary reasons. One, the forecasting process naturally has to happen quickly in order to respond to the changing business conditions in an acceptable amount of time. You can’t afford to spend a week setting up a new forecast. Two, you need to have confidence in forecasts and budgets. If you’re doing this manually, there is a lot of room for errors, broken formulas, misplaced data, and more. Intelligent Seeding removes that risk from the equation, so you always have confidence that your budget and forecast scenarios have structural integrity. Spring19 offers dramatic speed increases, but it’s mostly invisible to our customers since it’s happening behind the scenes. We think this enhancement will be a big hit with our customers the first time they experience the improvements. This enhancement gets us one step closer to the ultimate dream – one-click rolling forecasts.

More Dazzling Dynamic Reports

Everyone loves the flexibility and customizability of Dynamic Reports. Spring19 makes them even more, well, dynamic. Enhanced drill-through capabilities allow more filters to be applied to transaction data. Formatting can be customized by adjusting row and column height and width. Subtotals and grand totals can now be added instantly so you see what you want to see. And much more.

Spring19 gets closer to offering a completely custom, unique report for whatever your needs might be. It lets you build the reports you want, in the way you need, so you can present data in a manner that best lets you tell the story you want to tell. It gives you more control so you can build compelling reports that fit your business.

Reporting is Easier and More Secure

Finance and security go hand in hand. You’re dealing with extremely sensitive, extremely confidential information, from salaries to revenue projections, and only certain people are permitted to see certain data.

Spring19 makes it easier and faster for finance to manage security in fewer clicks and with more confidence. Provisioning new users and permissions is more intuitive, and more user information is visible in a single view. It’s further peace of mind for those of us in finance who are already kept up at night with security fears.

Easing the Transformation of Finance

Finance has a lot to do, but they want to get the tactical, periodic work out of the way quickly and accurately so they can focus on the strategic work. The UI and usability improvements in Spring19 help to eliminate the busy work of finance, and enhancing the view of data, forecasts, budgets and more helps finance really impact their organization in new and exciting ways.

In the next installment, we’ll dig into how Spring19 gives finance more control over the work they do and the output they present. Stay tuned for more from the Planful team!


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