More Design Patterns for Budget Management

I’m building Spreadless — an app for project budget management. Here are some of my preliminary design thoughts.

I noted previously that some information was lost in the equal sized bar scenario. While it’s excellent for helping us spot outliers when compared to the base… it treats each task line with equal weight. So a $200 budget item that is $50 over budget will have the exact same appearance as a $2,000,000 that’s $500,000 over. Obviously, a project manager will be far more worried about the latter. Here’s the previous example. It looks like 10 tasks are of concern. And looking at the chart, it seems that item 2.1.3 Asphalt would be most concerning right? It has the biggest bar.

So how do we show relative sizes?

We Could Scale the Bars to the Budget Size. Scaling each task’s bar to the budget size is one option. That would looks something like this.

But that suffers from the same tortuous path problem I talked about previously.

Show Overages as Absolute Values

One other option is to show the under/overage values as absolute dollars. This works quite a bit better.

Now it becomes pretty obvious that the project manager should not be worried about his Asphalt costs. His piping design budget is the greatest area of concern.

A Lot of Good Options

None of this is design-ready. But working through a couple of patterns has given me several ideas on how to help Project Managers spot problems quicker.There are so many ways beyond the classic gridded array of numbers I can’t help but wonder why no one has tried to do better. I feel like I’m on the right track.

Written by Dave M

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