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Fluid Roadmap (Rest of 2011)

January’s Roadmap

Back in January we released our first public and fluid roadmap.  For the majority it was really well received however we did have some (now ex) customers who tried to turn the post into ammunition to push their development agenda or demand free product.

WORK[etc] has rapidly grown and we’ve, unfortunately and inevitably, attracted the odd outcast.  The kind of people that your gut instinct tells you that no matter how much money they are going to pay you, it just isn’t worth the pain.

One such lady, upon reading the roadmap emailed to say I had broken all my promises, even though in the post I had gone to great lengths to explain the concept of a Fluid Roadmap (besides which I never make promises around product development).  Her e-mail was stylized in shouting CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCESSIVE USE OF EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!  This in itself should be sufficient insight into the type of operator she was, but it still left me cautious of publishing updates to the roadmap.  I guess it is kind of like putting it all out there – there’s always a risk it is going to come back to bite.

So just to reiterate –  this is a fluid road map.

Fluid because WORK[etc] is incredibly complex and everything connects to everything else.  And regardless of how defined our architecture is and how well we plan there will be unforseen problems and unexpected opportunities.  Timelines will change, features evolve and priorities shift focus. 

Looking back over the original road map, I have to say we have done pretty well.  All the new projects, contacts, timesheets, calendars, recurring tasks and document tools were delivered on, as too were unexpected projects such as Gmail Gadget and Evernote integration.  And the entire iPhone & Android piece was delivered way ahead of expectations.

Some projects, like the Outlook Plugin have stalled until very recently.  And other more complex projects such as Granular permissions and the new Sales & CRM continue as active work in progress.

It is also important to mention that when I put together the January roadmap, we basically had one and a half developers on board.  Fast forward seven months and we have three full time developers with a fourth doing a trial run right now.

Roadmap for the rest of the year

This is what we’re working on and gunning for by the end of 2011.

Project Where it’s at today: Expect to see it around: Why it is important
Granular permissions Internal Beta (almost) Late September This is a massive overhaul of the WORK[etc] permissions system, basically allow a permission (read, modify, delete, hide) to be applied to any element within WORK[etc]. It also includes the creation of Groups – allowing businesses an easier way to manage permissions across their organization.  So far this has been the cause of many headaches, but we’ve now broken the back and am screaming toward a beta release.
The best place to find out more and ask questions is right here.
Web Forms Internal Beta Late September Complete overhaul of web forms. Easier to set up, more control over layout, faster to view on site, conditional formatting (ie allow only email addresses to be entered on this field) and “what you see is what you get” creation tools. See a sneak preview and discuss here.
2-way Google Contacts Sync Last bit of programming Late September We took a look through a lot of feedback on the G Suite marketplace and kept seeing over and over again people screaming how some app with 2-way sync had messed up all their contacts. Ergo we’ve been building this with extreme caution – screwing up a businesss’ contacts is a big fail.
So what we have come up with is a Sync safe-house that will let you manually correct sync-errors, and unlink contacts from a sync. Take a look at the user experience (UX) mock up here.
Xero / Quicken Sync Scoping Late
October (maybe)
One click synchronization between WORK[etc] and Xero and Quicken. We don’t have a lot of hands-on experience with either app so it actually ends up being a pretty big undertaking. WORK[etc] has an open API and I had been hoping that Xero do the integration at their end (they don’t seem to like this idea unfortunately). If you’re a Xero fan, please feel free to hassle them. :-). Vote for both the Quicken and Xero integration here.
CRM: List View Programming Late October List view allows you to create a specific list of contacts by first searching your contact database and then saving that search. The first requirement for this was to improve search across the board which is now done. I’m going to have to write a big post on the CRM revision very soon as there is a lot of really cool stuff in there. Talk about it here.
Outlook Plugin Proof of Concept November This takes the wildly successful WORK[etc] Gmail gadget and makes the same functionality available in Outlook. So take any email and attach it to a project, create a new sales lead from it and more. It will have the look and feel of the Xobni Outlook Plugin, but will deliver WORK[etc] functionality within Outlook. This will be built off our open API’s and will be available only for PC and only for Outlook 2010 (Outlook 2007 is just too different under the hood plus it is almost 5 years old). More information here.
CRM: Drip Marketing & Sales Workflows Scoped November Sales Workflows are user-created lists of actions that your team should follow when working on closing new sales. Think of it like a “project” but for sales people. This tool will also be able to create drip-marketing campaigns. Again I’m going to have to write this up in detail over the next few weeks – it is hugely useful.
CRM: Social Media Views Scoping November Simple integration of Linkedin profiles and twitter streams within the contact screens. I’m not 100% sure of this – demand seems to have been a product of fleeting buzzwords.
CRM: Sales Leads update Scoped & Planned Early December 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. Implementation into the new Sales Workflow tool to view what stage of the process a lead is.
Watches & Alerts Scoping December Two core concepts here: 1) Set a watch on an object and be informed of any changes to it. For example, as a Sales Manager you might not be actively involved in a particular lead, but can set a watch so that you’ll be alerted whenever there is a change to that lead. 2) Revised Alert tool. So create an alert, decide who to send it to and choose how much information to include in that email alert. We’ve found some people want less alerts, others more. Some people have complained that the amount of information in an alert is a security risk whilst others are complaining that there isn’t enough information. Simple solution is to make Alerts entirely customizable.
Audit Trail & Histories Scoping December The audit trail is essentially a continuously updating view of everything that is happening across your WORK[etc] account, in real time. You would use this tool to run queries on certain events, and track who is doing what across your business. This would also be useful to end disputes when something goes wrong – for example we’ve heard of a few business with employees who have deleted projects and then claimed not to (and at least one of these was with malicious intent). The related History concept is similar to Amazon’s “Recently viewed items”. It allows you to view the last things that you’ve done on WORK[etc] so that you can navigate faster. More on the Audit Trail concept here.
Dashboard Scoping December New design and more functional widgets for the dashboard. This will also include pre-configured dashboards, for example a focus on sales for sales people, support activities for customer support people. The goal is make the dashboard something that you don’t become blind to after a few views, but rather something that actually keeps you up to date with every login.

Also, we have on-going development on improving speed and performance for both the web app and the mobile app.  Collectively we have already pushed out a total of 6 updates for the mobile apps and a recent code improvement delivers search results in real time.

That is about everything – please let me know if I’ve missed out something you consider a major project.  Otherwise send your feature suggestions here.
It is also worth noting that I think we’re pretty unique in doing this, if not entirely alone.  I don’t see many (or even any) other SaaS companies show a commitment to transparent product development.

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