An educational tool that helps new Sage Intacct customers onboard to the accounting platform.
Shara Barnet (VP of UX)
Melanie Bailey (UX Researcher)
Emily Chee (UX Research Intern)
What is Sage Intacct?
Sage Intacct provides mid-sized business with a cloud-based solution for their accounting needs. Their customers are small businesses that want something a little bit more advanced than QuickBooks.
Moving a business from Quickbooks to Sage Intacct can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Intacct is not an out-of-the box product. In-fact, there’s an entire team of people who spend months solely helping customers setup and use the product.
My team sought to make transitioning from Quickbooks to Sage Intacct easier. We benchmarked our competitors’ onboarding designs, we grouped these examples into different learning styles and personas, and we cross-referenced these findings during interviews with implementation specialists. As the sole designer, I used these insights to make several low fidelity wireframes and a high fidelity prototype on Figma.
Before we got caught up in blue-sky solutions, we clarified our constraints. In terms of engineering, we could only use the components that were already established in the Sage Intacct design system. No reinventing the wheel. In terms of business, we didn’t have the bandwidth to create new training content from scratch, we had to use their provided courses. Grounded with these constraints, we went on to identify three problem areas.
Practical learning resources
Sage Intacct already provides learning resources, but these are long rigid courses that take extra time out these accountants’ already busy days. They need something quicker and more practical to hit the ground running.
Collaboration and mentorship
No matter how thorough our tools are, we’ll never capture the unique policies of each company. Only experienced employees can bridge this gap. Which is why we need to create a strong system of in-app communication between workers.
Safe space to practice
Customers have ‘company sandboxes’ where workers can practice without tampering the actual books, but these weren’t practical. They didn’t have realistic data, they were difficult to access, and only a small number of employees had access due to their high cost.
I began the research process by benchmarking any onboarding design I came across during my day. Groupings of screenshots were carefully put into a step-by-step flow with explicit arrows and annotations for clarity. This gave good insights into what solutions our competitors already found effective. Drawing from research in psychology, we categorized these examples and other resources into one of 8 learning styles.
Example of benchmarking analysis
In order to understand what it’s like to transition to Intacct, we combed through years of research done by previous teams, we I interviewed two implementation specialists, and several of our current team members completed official Sage Intacct training. Using these insights, I created 4 abstract problem statements and user journeys which highlight different motivators, stressors and learning methods.
Problem statement and user journey
I started by coming up with as many ideas as I could. I kept these early concepts in low-fidelity because we didn’t want to become too attached to a single idea. This gave my team a tangible foundation for our solutions.
Initial pen-and-paper sketches
My gut reaction from our initial findings was to have all our solutions embedded within the product, not a separate application. This would allow users to easily transfer from learning to doing. Furthermore this connection of two previously separate worlds allows for a more holistic view of the user. Data from courses, practice exercises, tasks lists and messages could all be leveraged through AI to build a better onboarding experience.
A lot of our research showed that people seek out help from others with more experience when they’re struggling. Answers from fellow colleagues are quicker and much more exact than any FAQ page, but establishing these fruitful connections takes time. To speed this up, I listed the contact information of a user’s mentor and manager in their dashboard. We also allowed them tag people for questions within their in-line comments.
In-app communication with assigned mentor
Synchronized learning resources
We also found that users learning progress and assignments are heavily intertwined. I decided to have both the user’s task list and training courses in their dashboard. This fosters a sense clarity to all stakeholders about the user’s experience-level with Sage Intacct. Furthermore, a visual sense of their learning progress builds more confidence as users try new assignments.
Learning dashboard with synchronized training courses and task list
Distinguished the practice space
I showed many of my iterations to different departments at Sage Intacct and there was concern over having an embedded sandbox. Being able to easily change environments, users might confuse the real-world workspace with the practice one. I made the dominant colors of the sandbox contrast with that of the real-world workspace.
Real-world vs. Sandbox workspace
Enhanced visual design
After all was said and done, I wanted to polish the UI of our interfaces. I took inspiration from from websites like Dribbble.com for the information architecture and colorhunt.com for the color scheme.
Final UI with better visual design
Our ultimate goal was to present these solutions to decision makers in a way that would help them quickly empathize with the user. Something we’d spent months doing, but now had to condense into a few minutes. Storytelling is an effective tool for doing this.
We went back to our problem statements and user journeys to create characters. We gave them names, faces and stories. We highlighted the problems they were experiencing and the negative emotions they were feeling. Referencing our solutions from the ideation phase, we began to fill these gaps.
VP of Product Management, Dan Miller, and his team enjoyed our presentation.
VP of User Experience, Shara Barnett, wants to use our work process as a framework for future stories and designs.
Principal Interaction Designer, Ken Chizinsky, will continue our work as he refines Intacct’s implementation process.