While 90% can be achieved in Google Sheets, the crucial last 10% distinguishes CFOs and FP&A professionals as heroes in their companies. Abacum operates at the low margin of 10%.
How do we build an exceptional product in this very demanding domain? For us as designers, this really meant listening to our customers, co-creating with them, shipping often and unshipping even faster.
Joining the company right after YC, I found a team brimming with energy and aspiration, coupled with a product shaped by the ethos of "doing things that don't scale." Together with our Design Lead, I managed and built Abacum's design system.
Collaboration is the biggest value proposition for Abacum. A couple of months of my dedicated work were invested in designing multiple proposals and models for annotations, comments, and task management.
My team's main focus was predominantly on tables, which posed a significant challenge (boy, were we wrong about the scope), yet our hard work turned into one of the most important parts of Abacum.
Research & Co-creation with the users
We invited the CFOs and FP&As, who were early adopters and members of our User Research Cohort group. Over the course of two weeks, we conducted numerous qualitative research interviews and workshops.
Below is a representation of a few co-creation workshops, where we engaged participants with "sacrificial prototypes" to spark their imagination and raise high-level questions when it comes to collaboration in financial tools.
As we started to develop a better sense of the problem space, we transitioned from sketches to semi-functional prototypes.
Wicked problem: Comments origin and visibility level
One of the biggest challenges in comments is their relationship with origin and cells, especially when annotating a cell encompassing multiple sources. Roles and permissions vary for Finance, HR, and COO, impacting the source and reference.
My task was to collaborate closely with FP&A, DevOps, and Engineers to build a framework that would allow us to tailor different experiences depending on the context of the commented value.
In our MVP release we "glued" our internally developed comments system with third party notification and email management system. Giving us focus on the core problem, in the first release our users were able to create comments on tables, and text fields. We sticked with these two main building blocks until we stabilise the feature.
Comments Impact (MVP)
Longer time spent on the platform.
Invitation ratio per user.
Speaking with multiple CFOs, there was something interesting in the way they think versus execute. Most of them like to think on paper, sketch the model in the form of a diagram, and map the critical values and variables.
This is one of many proposals we built to allow CFOs to create simple models and connect them to real data to test their hypotheses.
Sign a contract with one of the biggest clients and became the basis of the product.
Tables & Formulas
Tables and Fomulas
Finance folks are great with numbers, and even better with formulas. Because of that, many traditional financial tools relied on FP&A's cognitive load instead of building more human-readable formulas that allow them to maintain and scale their variables and models.
One of the tasks I worked on was to make values and variables more human-readable and easier to reference.
Building design team and culture.
How to build pretty nice table system in Figma.
My favourite place to eat lunch in Barcelona.
A glimpse of my work and life. Thanks for reading.
Ivan Kunjasic, anno 2024