Thomson Reuters: OnBalance

OnBalance, Accounting Software for Small Businesses
My Role: Lead Researcher

This was a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the market share for offering business management services to small businesses. On Balance was created to target small businesses who are still using pen and paper for accounting and business management purposes. 

I designed the study to validate the target population (self-employed business owners using pen and paper to track finances) and understand their needs and pain points.

This research lasted 3 months and consisted of the following research stages:

  1. Survey to collect data on business owners’ processes and needs
  2. In-depth interviews to understand better business owners’ processes and pain points
  3. Pilot study to expose business owners to OnBalance and get weekly feedback on the software
  4. Visual and usability testing for the application



Project Challenges

  1. Difficulty reaching the target population
  2. Software was already developed based on untested assumptions
  3. Lack of funding for research incentives

Solutions to Challenges

  1. I used a recruiting panel to get access to target users
  2. I conducted interviews and short exploratory tests, using findings to iterate on existing functionalities
  3. We gave research participants free access to the OnBalance app as an incentive to participate in research

Research Outcomes

  • 4 research reports presented to cross-functional teams
  • Data analytics reports using Kebana for pilot users
  • Incremental improvement of app functionalities
  • Addition of new features to the app following user feedback

Major Research Findings

  • Users want automated processes and third-party integrations for tracking business finances
  • Cost is not always a deterrent for adopting new technologies; most of the time users worry about security and privacy
  • Our target users felt QuickBooks was too complex for them and lacked a “friendly” look and feel they expected from a software of this nature

User Persona

User persona
Developed by designers based on my research findings.

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