Reality-Based Financial forecasting

Designed by and for Finance

When we designed Shinto, we brought in tier-one members of the Finance Department to sit in on the wireframing. That’s right, we didn’t take formal requirements, but instead included the Finance people who would be using our software in the actual design of the tool.

We would ask: “So if you wanted to know how profitable a hire would be at this position on this account, this is what you would see. Is that better than what you get from the older systems you’ve used?”

Like much of Shinto, this was a break from the traditional process. This was yet another attempt on our part to forget the way things had been done for years — not just the processes, but the interface design, even the color-ways so prevalent in typical Project Management software.

When we designed Shinto, we included the Finance people who would be using our software in the actual design of the tool.

But who would invite the Finance team to help design a PM system? Well, the two professions actually have a lot of similarities: forecasting, budget reporting, profitability analysis, etc….  So once we felt we had totally nailed the Time interface, “The Land of PM” in Shinto, we sat with a CFO and other financial officers to show them ways we envisioned repurposing the project management interface into the the Money interface.

And we didn’t even invite the project managers who had played such a huge role in designing the other parts of Shinto; if this was where Finance worked, then it should fit their needs, not those of other teams.

Battle-Tested, CFO-Approved Forecasting Software

So far, the aspect of Shinto’s Money interface that has pleased our friends in Finance the most is the fact that they can visualize graphics for revenue from fees for the whole agency, across time, in an utterly intuitive way.

In close second is the ability to dive into the same elegant view for individual accounts, or for just one team, or for just one title, or even for just one named employee. In other words, a CFO or other financial officer or analyst can instantly pull up the expected revenue from each team, title, or person, and then compare those numbers to salary expenditures in order to gauge profitability. This can be used for hiring or compensation-adjustment requests.

Further, this data is as up to date as it can be, since every time a project is created or modified, the finances are instantly updated as well. There is no having to send out an email to a bunch of people and then waiting for their individual spreadsheets to trickle in.

Now think about that: anyone who has ever worked in an advertising agency knows that hiring and raise requests are often built purely on emotion: “We’re slammed now, so we will be slammed for the rest of the year … we have to hire!” Or, “Sally is going to leave if we don’t give her a raise right now and that will crush this account!”

Shinto takes the emotion out, and replaces it with cold, hard data that you can count on.

What’s with the Platypus?

Shinto is genuinely dedicated to providing the data you actually need and can rely on without asking too much in return. This is what drives us.

In particular, we have crafted a tool that is particularly friendly to CFOs and Finance departments in the advertising industry.

And that’s no accident. As you may have already noticed, at Shinto we take a lot of pride—perhaps a little too much—in the fact that we didn’t go about designing our software in the usual way, by gathering a long list of requirements—functional and technical. These are generally gathered by interviewing stakeholders, documenting their asks, and then building a system that meets all the requirements.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but there can be a catch: namely, that you often end up with a “Platypus”. By a platypus we mean a creation that seems to have been built to satisfy everyone. Imagine the stakeholder presentation: “Ok folks, we were able to fit everything each of you asked for … we have a duck bill, a beaver tail, an organ that senses electricity, and some poisonous spines. As per the requirements it’s technically a mammal, and as requested by Production it will, in fact, lay eggs. The best of all worlds!”

Shinto doesn’t set out to be everything for everyone. What it does do, it does better than the rest. And while Shinto’s amazing forecasting engine is applicable to both Finance as well as Project Management, we have made the conscious decision to not employ a one-size-fits-all philosophy, and instead to craft bespoke interfaces that will improve the industry we have spent a lifetime supporting.