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2013 Roadmap & Co-Fund a new Feature?

Every six months or so, we make public our future product development plans.  And although these plans will change, we feel it important to let our customers know where we are heading.
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A weekly, if not daily, head-banging moment for me is always having to hold back on new development because we just don’t have enough free cashflow to hire 10 more engineers right now.

Everyday plays out the same battle between what we can do right now, with the resources we have right now, that will help the most customers, right now.

This limitation forces focus. We are forever vigilant about where we aim focus and how we allocate resources.

So how do we do that?

Having been around small business all my life, and even a period in the early 2000’s as a pimp’d business consultant, I have a good appreciation of what growing businesses need to stay in the game. And of course the team is always on the hunt in our suggestion forums for the ideas that keep on bubbling up.

But it is our public product road maps that have the biggest impact on focus; generating more feedback than anything else we publish.  The roadmaps excite and frustrate customers as we duck and weave and change direction and inevitably diverge from the stated plan.

Which is a good thing. A lot of what we’ve done great in 2012 came about because we didn’t stick to the roadmap, but because we used it as a platform from which to gather feedback and pivot as needed.

And now we want to do so much more, so much faster in 2013.  Read through to the bottom of this e-mail on some ideas around how we might be able to achieve more this year.

So, before we look at the product roadmap for 2013, lets take a quick recap of what we did in 2012.

How We Grew in 2012

  • Monthly subscription revenue doubled
  • Annual revenue (almost) tripled
  • Our team grew from 10 people, to a team of 16 experts

What We Built in 2012

What is really interesting is just how much we got through in 2012 given such a small development team. Pushing out so many new features and improvements  was made possible not only by the talented team, but also in large part by WORK[etc]’s extensible architecture.  Here’s what happened:

What We’re Building in 2013!

We didn’t get to tick off everything we wanted to from our last roadmap. This doesn’t mean there wasn’t progress, only that we didn’t get those features to a beta or public release. Read below for why, how and when.


Discussion
(formerly known as Ping!)

  • progress: 75% Coding complete
  • Due: February (beta)

We all fall back on using email as a type of chat tool – to ask quick questions and follow up with answers.The net result is hundreds of emails clogging up inboxes and unstructured data making it difficult to get sense out of a project or activity.What the new “Discussion” tool does is allow you to discuss any project, sales lead, support task or any other WORK[etc] activity right inside of WORK[etc].We then store that discussion against that activity, making it searchable and a critical part of your business intelligence.We also introduce a concept called “Request Response”. What this does is allow one user to specifically call out to another user and ask that they respond to their question or request. This Request Response is highlighted in the discussion thread and treated as an alert.Read more and view screen grabs on the Discussion Tool feature suggestion.


Rich Text Editor (RTE)

  • progress: Internal Testing
  • Due: February (beta)

The Rich Text Editor is the tool you use throughout WORK[etc] wherever you write text.The major enhancements include:

  • more precise WYSIWYG editing
  • drag and drop images from your desktop (rather than browsing and uploading)
  • Insert any WORK[etc] object (ie a project) directly into the RTE area. Previously you had to open another window and copy and paste a link.
  • Insert a WORK[etc] contact directly into the RTE area
  • RTE now works in Safari for iPad – this is actually a big deal given most RTE’s are blocked Safari Ipad.

Read more and preview screen grabs for the new Rich Text Editor.


Dashboard v.3

  • progress: Internal Testing
  • Due: February (beta)

I ended up doing a huge pivot on the dashboard project. We’ve already released the new interface and design but are yet to release any of the new widgets.The fundamental issue I have with all dashboards is the sole focus on the display of data and reports. Over time people become blind to that information and the dashboard usefulness erodes.So what we are building with the new widgets is a focus on encouraging action so that the WORK[etc] dashboard becomes part of your team’s daily habit:

  • Show me what work I need to do today
  • Show me what my team has just finished
  • What are the new items in WORK[etc] that I need to be aware of?

And then of course each dashboard can be filtered to show only certain activities, or priority items and more.


Social Profile, Social Media Integrations

  • progress: Scoping
  • Due: Mid-March

We’re now putting a huge focus on integrating social profiles into WORK[etc].The demand for integration into Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook & Google Plusone has been growing steadily over the last 24 months. It is only really now that it has hit a tipping point with clever ideas for implementation coming from businesses that don’t fit the typical “early adopter” profile.So, working with a third party provider, the social media integration will include:

  • allowing your customers to complete web forms via a social media account
  • grabbing pictures and profile information where your customer has opted in and storing that content against their contact profile in WORK[etc]
  • addition of a tab inside of the contact profile that will upload with that contacts latest updates

We are still in the scoping stage right now (and until late January) so if you have some ideas around this, please post to > Feature Suggestions > Social Media Thread


Marketing Automation & (drip-marketing)

  • progress: Final Scoping
  • Due: April (public beta)

This project is the next evolution of WORK[etc] – taking away the last rigid structures of how you work with software and allowing you to create custom workflows.The first stage is custom workflows for sales, marketing and email and will include tools for:

  • Triggers (ie attaching a particular tag to a contact)
  • Actions (ie create and assign a new sales lead)
  • Time Delays (ie after this action, then wait for 48 hours)
  • Splits and Joins (ie if the email is opened, then create a new sales lead, if the email is unopened then send this follow-up email

We have basically completed the scope and planning for this, but if you have a last minute idea, feel free to post here.


Resource Utilization , Project Planning, Estimations

  • progress: Scoping
  • Due: Late May

This is an “enterprise-strength” addition to the project management software that will facilitate an organization-wide view of “who is working on what, and how busy they are” as well as providing evidence-based planning.So instead of guesstimating how long a particular project type may take, you’ll be able to quickly view metrics for similar projects your team has completed in the past.The second part of this project is to produce in real-time a utilization heat map that shows how busy your co-workers or work group is.We need some help scoping this out to make sure we get all the key functionality included in this first release. Add your ideas into the resource planning thread.  Want it sooner?


Customer Portal 2.0

  • progress: About to Start Coding
  • Due: Late May

This is a complete overhaul of the WORK[etc] end-customer portal. This project includes more control over design and branding, better collaboration with your customers and an option to host the portal on your own web site.We are about to start coding this in partnership with one of our customer, so this is literally your last chance to have input into the customer portal.


Mobile Apps v3.0 + iPad App

  • progress: Final Scoping / Mockups
  • Due: May

The next generation of our mobile apps will be built around the core premise that a mobile device is mostly used for data capture and updates rather than actually doing work.You do work at your desk, you capture data or make updates when you are on the road.Have your say on our next generation mobile apps (before we lock down the scope on February 1st)


Reporting v2.0 (all modules)

  • progress: Research
  • Due: June

We’re down to a short list of 3 reporting vendors to provide a true “design your own” reporting tool for WORK[etc]. These are all products that exist today that just need to be integrated into the WORK[etc] app. Want it sooner?


Quotes v2.0

  • progress: Scoping
  • Due: June

This is already scoped and in queue for development. The project includes cleaner integration into the product catalog, sales tools, projects and invoicing, as well as the ability to include custom field data and re-usable text snippets. Want it sooner?


Purchase Orders v1.0

  • progress: Pre-Planning
  • Due: July

Online purchase order creation, tracking and fulfilment tool with tight integration into projects and billing modules.Unfortunately demand for this seems to ebb and flow and as such the project keeps slipping. Want it sooner?


Gantt Chart v3.0

  • progress: Pre-Planning
  • Due: July

Faster Gantt chart, better controls and ability to share with your customers via the v2.0 customer portal. Want it sooner?


Automatic Monthly Billing & Transactions

  • progress: Pre-Planning
  • Due: August

Ability to create fully-automatic subscription invoice to your customers, including automatic emailing, automatic credit card charges and an approval and reporting mechanism.This is probably one of the oldest requests we have on file and we are finally comfortable with the security issues around this project (ie where something to go wrong with this tool, it would go really wrong)
Want it sooner?


Contractor Management v1.0

  • progress: Pre-Planning
  • Due: August

This is another project that keeps getting pushed out because again customer demand for it comes and goes.Essentially this creates a new “employee” type in WORK[etc] called a “contractor” who has full use of all WORK[etc] features, but however is only charged on actual useage, rather than a monthly fee. Want it sooner?


Pre-paid hours, job bank

  • progress: Pre-Planning
  • Due: August

Another shaky-demand project. The pre-paid job bank allows you to sell future hours to your customers. For example you might offer a pre-paid maintenance contract and issue your customer an end-of-month statement showing hours used. Want it sooner?


App wide Caching & Pre-emptive Loading

  • progress: On-going Progress
  • Due: Monthly

We’re getting really smart about improving WORK[etc] performance by pre-loading your “next likely action” in the background so that there are fewer page reloads and pauses to retrieve information.


The above really is a lot of work but I’m confident we’ll get through it with our new Eastern Europe development team ramping up as relying more on plugging in third party services.

Would you co-fund development if it meant a feature was released sooner?

The idea is simple. Much like a Kick Starter project we’d be interested to see if a group of customers can’t come together and co-fund the development of a new feature that we’d otherwise not be able to start until later in the year.

Read more about  co-funding new features.

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