LivePlan’s Black Widow Update is Here

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Firstly, what’s with our update names?

We figured we’d better give you the low-down now. After all, you’re going to wonder why on earth your next update comes to you as ‘Cyclops’…

At LivePlan, we do our product development work in the form of user stories, which are assigned to numbered sprints (in the Scrum method of agile software development, a sprint is a regular, repeatable work cycle). This week is the start of sprint 69. In some cases, though, stories go live in a different release than the one that immediately follows that sprint.

To avoid confusion, we started using alphabetical designations for releases. A release called 2014-A wouldn’t be very easy to remember or much fun. So, we kicked around a few naming schemes.

In the end, “musical guests who appeared on the Simpsons” lost out to “characters created by Stan Lee.” Hence the recent releases of AntMan and BlackWidow, to be followed soon by Cyclops, Daredevil, and Electro.

Not everyone on the team was thrilled though and one team member who sees Marvel as inferior to DC Comics, left this book on the team lead’s desk the next day:

LivePlan Updates Named After Marvel Characters

The type of question a LivePlan developer contemplates: Marvel or DC – Who would win in a fight?

Now, on with the serious stuff…

The Black Widow Update makes performance monitoring easier than ever

Even though we’ve only just launched our first round of major updates to LivePlan’s Scoreboard feature, we’re not sitting back and taking it easy.

Our latest product update adds enhancements to the Scoreboard feature, giving you more flexibility and making it easier for you to track and understand your financial performance.

Based on early feedback from Scoreboard users, we’ve added some additional chart options so you can better visualize your financial data and get an improved view of your business’s health.

New line charts

If you want to see your revenue forecast or expense budget compared simultaneously to your actual results, your results from last year, and your results from the previous period, you can use the Scoreboard’s new line chart option.

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Not only does the new line chart do a great job of showing you all of your key comparison points in one place, it also gives you access to your upcoming forecast and last year’s results. Using this chart view, you can easily look ahead to see your forecast for the next few months, and to get an overview of what happened last year over the same period of time.

This feature is especially useful if your business is seasonal, or if looking ahead with a particular period in mind is important. If you’ve forecasted a sudden growth in sales, having a vision into the future and easy access to those target numbers will allow you to prepare your team and your strategy so that you can stay on track for the growth you expect.

New thermometer charts

As you monitor the progress of your business during the current month or quarter, it’s useful to see which revenue streams are performing according to plan and which ones need some extra work.

To solve this problem, we’ve added a thermometer (or “thermo” chart) chart view. Now you can see exactly where you are exceeding expectations and where you may need to re-adjust your plan.

 

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The thermo chart doesn’t limit you to comparing your performance with your plan. You can also use it to gain insight into how you are performing in comparison to the same time period last year or to a previous period – say last month or last quarter.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.29.24 PM

New cumulative view for area, column, and line charts

Finally, if you want an overview of your cumulative performance, you’ve now got the option of choosing to view your progress over a specific period of time.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.29.32 PM

 

If you choose this option, you’ll get a chart that shows you your total revenue or total expenses as they have accumulated over time. Switching back to the “by month” option will show you the standard monthly totals for each month.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.29.42 PM

More coming soon!

We hope that the Scoreboard is helping you put together a solid financial dashboard for your business so that you can more easily track your progress as you grow.

What do you think so far?

We always want to hear your feedback. It’s the only way we can improve and give you the product you want. Let us know what kinds of features you’d like to see in LivePlan. You can add a comment below, find us on Twitter at @liveplan, call us at 1-888-498-6136, or email help@liveplan.com

 

Posted in LivePlan Updates
  • Ok, this is great but until there is the ability to import from a csv it’s not SUPER great, or useful as a matter of fact! We don’t use the basic accounting tools listed and we are too big to manually enter data which means we are precluded from using any of the scorecard benefits. If csv import were possible then basically any system could be used. Is there a plan to add the ability to import from csv’s in the near future. Thanks

    • Thanks for the suggestion. Importing from CSV is definitely on the list. It would be great to hear what accounting system you are using so that we can review what their export to CSV looks like.

      Thanks again for giving LivePlan a try!

      • Hey Noah, we use a locally produced MRP called TechOne. Here’s a link to their site – http://www.technologyonecorp.com/. I’m sure their csv’s would be typical and even if not, any csv, once in excel, could be modified to suite whatever parameters necessary. As for trying LivePlan, I used it to write my 5 year strategic plan this year and loved it. The ability to drop in or remove sections as needed was great and made the job especially easy. The addition of the Scorecard was also very helpful but the use was limited due to the manual data entry, which also allows for much greater potential of user error. Happy to be a beta tester for any csv work you guys want to do! Thanks again.

  • Just saying

    Love the layout and reports but would love to be ablte to print them out as PDF’s

    • This feature is on our roadmap. Do you think you would mostly be emailing PDFs to people? It would be great to hear more about your specific situation and how we can create the best solution.

      • Michael Chinnery

        Mostly just to print out for ourselves for internal analysis or attach to internal reports. Occasionally attach to emails to banks or other interest parties

  • Fred Gardner

    This is a good enhancement, and graphs are really cute, but there needs to be more attention paid to providing some flexibility in report formats utilizing pdf output. Such as suppressing zero lines and providing subtotal options. We are a service company and the concept of cost of goods sold is not applicable to us, but the darn P&L is hard-coded to provide the margin calculation, Need a way to kill it.

    Because of font limitations, outputting to a WORD file is totally useless for us when doing financial reports.

    • Thanks for sharing your ideas, Fred. This is useful feedback to hear. We definitely want to improve our output options and give you more options to customize LivePlan. As you can see, we’re continuing to develop the product and value your input on future product direction.

      I’m curious, have you tried the benchmarks feature to see what industry standards are for gross margin for your industry? That might be interesting for you to look at. Obviously, every business is different and there are always good reasons why your business might differ from the standard.

      Thanks again for taking the time to post your thoughts. Keep letting us know how we can do better!