2012 Roadmap – huge leaps forward


This will the third product road map we’ve made public.

The first two roadmaps (January 2011 and September 2011) give some interesting insight into just how far we’ve actually come these last 12 months.

Our roadmap is public because we believe in transparency. It is, what it is. For the hundreds of customers that have come on board since the last road map in September we always call this a fluid roadmap. Fluid because it is guaranteed to change. Some projects run ahead of schedule. Some crash head first into unexpected road blocks. New opportunities open up and our priorities change.

We really are all working constantly on improving WORK[etc]. We have to. 

WORK[etc] is WORK[etc] biggest user in terms of logged hours.  With every incremental improvement our customers do better and we do better. And by publishing a regular roadmap, we get the word out on what the end game is for WORK[etc] and the steps we’re taking to get there. It helps WORK[etc] customers understand our process, appreciate the complexity of the product and contribute to the development.

Also, anyone new to WORK[etc] should keep in mind we never promise anything. Occasionally I’ll get emails from people that start off with the line “back in September you promised …” which is disheartening as I inevitbly feel guilty over breaking a promise that was never made to start with(!)

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get onto the good stuff:

ProjectWhere it’s at today:Expect to see it around:Why it is important
Roles and PermissionsInternal BetaFebruary
(limited beta release)
Long time customers will note this has been at the “internal beta” stage for months. It required a complete rethink on a lot of modules and a lot of the original code to be revised. And then just when we’re getting happy with it, it got tied into the same code release as the new sales modules.

Hence, it has spent the last 6 weeks just hanging around waiting for the others to catch up. Importantly, it is coming soon. View a screen shot here.CRM: Contact ListsInternal AlphaFebruary
(limited beta release)This tool needs a name change as it has progressed beyond just contacts to include all sorts of elements and as such is now incredibly powerful.

The original concept was to create a search of your contacts and save that search for quick access later on, with the results always auto updating.

For example, show me all contacts in California that have the tag called “priority” attached. This plan was to then simply have this show you a list of contacts that matched the criteria.

But as we were building it, we realised there was a bigger opportunity to push it out to other parts of WORK[etc] and turn it into a sort of data mining tool.

For example, show me all contacts in California that have the tag called “priority” attached and who have an open support case. This would then create your list showing not only contact details, but the relevant support case link too.

And then of course we needed to include “custom fields” into the search variables; adding a few more weeks of coding and exponentially more complexity!

The end result will be the ability to slice and dice your entire WORK[etc] database a hundred different ways and then save the results in an auto-updating list.

It feels like this tool is really going to show-off the power of WORK[etc] and exaclty why an all-in-one solutionis always going to outperform everything else.

View a screen shot here – I’ll do a more detailed post on this as I continue to debug it next week.CRM: Enhanced Custom FieldsInternal AlphaFebruary
(limited beta release)The enhanced custom fields tool introduces a whole new set of custom fields types, such as colored labels, drop down selection lists and upload file tools.

We’ve also built the ability to create custom field groups by selecting multiple custom fields together and choosing what WORK[etc] module you want these grouped fields to display against.

For example, create a group of custom fields that asks your sales agent “how many people in the customers office?“, “what is the best time for delivery?” and “is price more important than quality?‘. You’d then assign it to the WORK[etc] sales module and every time your sales team goes to follow up a lead, they are prompted to answer these questions. And if you choose to also assign it to the contacts module, this custom field data is also instantly viewable on that end customers’ contact information page.

Now, consider how powerful this all becomes when you start combining it with the new Contact Lists . As a sales manager I might create a contact list to show me all contacts in California that have the tag called “priority” attached AND who value quality over price with more than 10 people in their office.

Plus we’ve re-purposed the interface from the web forms interface making it super intuitive to setup and manage. Cool huh?

And again, this new module demands a detailed, dedicated post and in the meantime you can see the screen grab by scrolling to the bottom of this page.Xero / Quick Books SyncInternal AlphaLate January
(limited beta release)One click synchronization between WORK[etc] and Xero and Quick Books. Because we didn’t have a lot of hands-on experience with either app it has actually taken maybe 4 times longer than planned to get right.

With the Xero integration, we’ve had to modify WORK[etc] handles a number of line items. Again, this was unexpected and was an unknown when I posted the “impending release” blog post in November. But we are now very close. Discuss Xero here.

And then with Quicken Desktop we ran into a major installation headache with Windows XP and UAC (a good reminder why we don’t build desktop apps). Basically if you’re running XP and Quicken Desktop you have to follow this stupid list of installation instructions just to get it installed. We could have released it without support for XP, but doing so would have upset quite a few users.

We haven’t started the Quickbooks Anywhere/Online integration yet, but conceptually we have already made all the mistakes with Desktop and Xero so I’m not expecting this to be too far off; hopefully late February.2-way Google Contacts Syncre-codingEarly February
(beta release)With automatic, 2-way Google Contacts sync we’re almost done working through a number of issues.

For example, the way WORK[etc] stores all different types of contact data just does not match Google’s model. Additionally we support a very nested hierarchical contact structure (i.e. companies, branches & people) which needs to be dumbed down when synced with Google, but still ensuring the structure remains intact within WORK[etc].

There are horror stories floating around of sync products turning someone’s contacts into an unrecoverable, jumbled mess.

If you’re annoyed that this has taken longer than planned, please consider that we need to get this 100% right. We probably could have released something a few months back, but there is absolutely no tolerable margin of error allowed here.Customize Every Table View in WORK[etc]Internal AlphaFebruary
(limited beta release)With every table (data grid) view in WORK[etc] you’ll be able to:
– Drag and drop to reposition the order of columns
– Select and drag to change the width of columns
– Select from the drop menu what data you want on your table.
Read more about this here.Contacts Screen RedesignInternal AlphaFebruary
(limited beta release)Contact screens have all under gone some refinement to better accommodate custom fields and those uses that are working with a high number of tags.CRM: Sales Leads updateInternal AlphaFebruary
(limited beta release)Update the leads screen to allow for easier sharing of leads and to match the look and feel of the new Projects screens. Also allow for the addition of custom columns in display.

So for example you’ll be able to select what information you want to view on your leads table. Better “sales funnel” like reporting on lead progression.Outlook PluginPhase 1 – internal betaLate February
(phase 1 release)This takes the wildly successful WORK[etc] Gmail gadget and makes the same (and more!) functionality available in Outlook; take any email and attach it to a project, create a new sales lead and more.

So Phase 1 is a simple “attached any email to any WORK[etc] object”. For example, right click on an email and attach to a support case.

Phase 2 is automatic, 2-way contacts and calendar sync with Outlook.

Phase 3 is create a new WORK[etc] entry using any email in Outlook. For example, right click on an email, select “create new sales lead” and turn that email into a WORK[etc] sales lead.

Phase 4 is a right hand side panel that looks up WORK[etc] for the sender of an email, displaying that contact’s most recent WORK[etc] activity, inside of Outlook.

I’ve been playing around with this (phase 1) for a week now and it is pretty awesome. Scroll to the very bottom of this page to see a screen shot of it in action.

We’ll be progressively releasing the phases, with Phase 1 expected mid February.Sales PipelineCodingLate FebruaryGraphic interface for sales pipeline reporting. You can view the very-attractive mock-up here.New Help DocumentationWriting ContentLate FebruaryCentral location for all help information. We’re using a hybrid manual and tag approach to structure and including a lot more video.

I’m also pushing to make every help article talk about the “why” of using a WORK[etc] tool. So not just “how” to use a feature, but why you would actually want to use something.

Once this is complete we’ll be tying articles tightly into the help glyph tool. So, if you are working in WORK[etc] and need more information about a tool, the first step is to read a brief overview from the floating help glyph menu and if you need more in-depth information, click a link to view the full article.

Oh – and we’re making it so all the help information can be translated as we’re now seeing a whole lot more customers from The Netherlands, Brazil, Spain/Mexico, Germany and France.

January is huge month being the culmination of months of development all coming together. Once we get beyond February, and only loosely prioritized we have:

  • Resource planning, allocation and utilization across projects and entire business units
  • Dashboard re-design and refinement
  • Drip marketing
  • Refined contractor management tools
  • Custom work flows. Drag n’ Drop elements to create customized workflows and processes
  • Customer portal 2.0
  • Product catalog 2.0
  • Inventory management
  • Finance & Billing 2.0 (possibly including automatic end-customer billing)
  • Support Case 2.0
  • Android & iOS 100% native apps
  • Android Tablet version (format & 100% native)
  • Niche versions of WORK[etc] for MSP’s (IT), Law Firms, Construction Industry and Marketing firms.

You’ll notice we’re moving heavily into positioning WORK[etc] as a type of low-level ERP – kind of like ERP for the want-to-be enterprise.  That means plugging the holes in terms of resource planning, asset management and inventory.

That’s all for now, time to thrive in 2012…oh and remember feature suggestions live here.

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