Forecast Tool

THE PROBLEM

How do we display both actual and potential revenue streams to give our users an overhead view of their revenue opportunities?

There are many different types of intellectual property (IP) assets that provide constant revenue streams- patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets - to name a few. Holding those licensees accountable for owed royalty payments can be difficult, especially if each contract is a unique relationship between the licensor and licensee. Still, it doesn't stop non-licensees to infringe on an IP.

The goal of the forecast tool was to not just show recurring revenue streams from formal contracts, but to also show potential revenue from infringement cases, contract renewals, incidents and projects so our users could have a better understanding of the impact those opportunities have on their IP.

THE USERS

Users of this tool can be anyone needing information on revenue earnings and potential revenue earnings. These could be financial analysts, project managers, auditors, etc.

After discussing the feature idea with our in-house legacy users, we learned that most users of this tool would use it to either model potential revenue opportunities (based on whatever incident or project that were working on within the Ruvixx platform) or to track current revenue streams. There was no need for any permission restriction in terms of viewing this tool, since teams were meant to have access to the same data as their team members.

Discover & Define

ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH & BRAINSTORMING

Since we shared a space with our legacy users, it made the most sense to study and observe how they handled revenue streams reporting and forecasting. Their chosen method included calculator apps, spreadsheets (Excel), records of contracts and statements (both digital and paper versions) and email for collaboration. What did this tell us?

From an efficiency standpoint, there were multiple tools they were using to just keep track of their revenue streams. While it worked for their team, it could be a hassle to juggle all these things. The 'mental load' of simply remembering where to go for specific sources of information was something our users wanted to reduce. In essence, they wished they could have a single place to get an overview of their projects and revenue opportunities and streams.

After a few brainstorming sessions, we discovered some constraints and defining features our forecast tool:

  • Project phases with significant revenue values would be titled: Kickoff, Analysis (infringement/analysis), Negotiation, Closed

  • Opportunities can interject at any point in the revenue flow - which is tied in some part to a project phase

  • Constraints: lots of data (numeric revenue, project ID, entity, IP, contract #) to show within a variety of contexts (1 year vs 5 year vs user filters)

Wireframes

We finalized a layout that we felt was the most flexible for the amount of information we wanted to show and for the amount of customization we wanted to allow. To show revenue progression, we took inspiration from kanban boards to break out various stages of the "Revenue Flow".

 

  • Tiles would be tied to projects within the platform

  • The project ID # would open that project in a new window.

  • To manage the project stage within this tool, users can click and drag the tile from different stages to forecast revenue returns

  • Show current revenue pipeline that focuses on the forecast of current projects.

  • 1 year and 5 years views made available (based on feedback from legacy users)

Mocks

ITERATION 1

forecast1.png

This was the first iteration where I experimented with styles. This was fun to make, but would be terrible to use. For one, the many colors on the page made it difficult to associate data types. It wasn't clear what the colors of the tiles meant because the colors didn't match either "Forecast" or "Opportunity". Generally, poor contrast between data and the background made it hard to read.

  • Experiment! Make it look "cool"

  • Added a summary of Forecast and Revenue Opportunities to each project phase

  • Use color to visually associate types of data: forecast = magenta, opportunity = green

  • Clearly show revenue opportunities and forecast tied to the projects in the tiles

  • Allow users to "drill down" by clicking on each tile to navigate to those projects within the platform

ITERATION 2

forecast2.png

Notable Changes

  • Introduce light backgrounds to make data legible

  • Simplify colors to clearly match "Revenue" and "Forecast" labels

  • Make project phase header larger and easier to read

  • Added a"Fiscal Total" to the top portion of the "Revenue Pipeline" table to give an overhead view

A New Challenge

What does forecast mean and why are we summarizing it in each project phase? Originally, "forecast" was meant to reflect the "for-sure" revenue that was going to be funneled in within each of these phases.

But because the tool is titled "Forecast" and we wanted users to be able to forecast the hypothetical amounts of revenue per quarter and per project phase, the meaning of "forecast" kept getting misunderstood. We needed to change terminology to clarify the concept.

ITERATION 3

forecast3.png

Notable Changes

  • Add infringement type aligned with project ID number

  • Replace the "Pipeline" with a "Totals" table

  • Totals is still forecasting various projects, but in a more traditional format

  • Users can click on a project phase and it will highlight those projects in the table

  • Users can toggle between 1 year and 5 year views

  • Replaced horizontal scroll with pagination and utilized a "show more details" view which would expand an area to show details on a specific project

Big Improvements

We replaced the visual pipeline with a table to show more data - this was easier to understand for our users, and highly preferred over the earlier version. We replaced summarizing "Revenue Opps" and "Forecast" with "Fixed","Annual", and "Quarterly". Fixed being a one-time payment, and annual/quarterly being a recurring payment.

Impact

In the end, we accomplished creating a forecast tool that allowed users to both track the revenue incoming from projects in different phases and forecast hypothetical revenues. This helps users not only keep track of recurring revenue. but also see which projects (or rather, licensee relationship/contracts) could be the most lucrative.
I designed this feature years ago - I'm sure this tool has gone through some revisions since then. Some improvements I'd like to see for the future would be more information around how this tool functions. We didn't implement any tooltips or helper guides to instruct new users on what certain actions mean. For example, dragging a tile from phase to phase - does this affect the actual project data in any way? Some clarity would be useful to those new to the platform.
forecast5.png
 

Case Studies

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Forecast Tool
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