This CRM update has been too long coming. I’ve been trying to write this since March, which quickly turned into April, May, and then here we are now in June. Going forwards we’ll be committing to an update every month, even if it is brief and has no pretty pictures (this article includes pretty pictures!)
One of the most important things we could be doing is keeping everyone up to date on what we’ve been working on in the background — except we are exceptionally bad at doing this. Sure, we do release notes every time we push out an incremental release, but we don’t put the effort into communicating and promoting what we have been doing.
Which is just so stupid in hindsight. Why do all this amazing work and then not tell anyone about it? Crazy right?
So, although we haven’t been putting out regular announcements, we have still pushed out a lot of work this year, so far…
Newer, Better Server Infrastructure
We’ve migrated across to a newer, redundant infrastructure split between Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta in response to a disastrous experience running across IBM-Softlayer in 2014. Whoever coined the phrase “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” needs to get fired.
On a more positive note, this newer, 2015 architecture allows us to switch on Europe and Australia hubs later this year and eventually auto-shuffle accounts across geographic regions.
As a comparison, our uptime for 2015 has been 99.999% plus, versus a few months late last year which was basically a nightmare for everyone involved and affected.
Brand New Mobile Apps
Both our Android and iPhone apps have been completely redesigned and re-coded from the ground up. These are now 100 times more functional, faster, and basically just a pleasure to use. Also added to these new builds were additional features including team discussions, expense management and knowledge base.
We also now have full time teams for both Android and iOS and are quickly getting back to that place where we can be super-responsive to any issues and continuously be improving both apps. We’re also now collecting ideas for future releases from our WORK[etc] Insiders.
Updates, Fixes, and User Experience Improvements
A whole heap of minor updates, issue fixes, and user experience improvements have been rolled out across all areas of the platform, including:
- Faster loading times, most noticeably on the Activity Stream
- New global search filter as well as additional item creation and viewing options on a company record’s People tab
- New feature suggestions implemented, including a new sales forecast report and timesheet updates
New and Improved Outlook Plugin
We’ve also completely rebuilt our Outlook Plugin module and included automatic contact sync between Outlook and WORK[etc]. This is currently right at the very end of public beta testing. Once the new plugin is released for desktop we’ll be moving right onto the Outlook365 version.
Performance optimization is where we have put a whole lot of effort and made huge progress. But here is the catch: you’ll likely only *really* notice the improvements if your account is one of the top ~5% of accounts in terms of size.
The more data an account stores over time, the larger that store becomes. Unfortunately, late last year we started to hit performance ceilings on a few of the very large accounts. And actually, the WORK[etc] account we use to manage WORK[etc] the business was one of these affected and so obviously we had to fix this issue otherwise we’d be struggling to manage WORK[etc] the business(!).
As you can see from the table below some improvements have been remarkable — any user will quickly notice a change from 4s down to 1s. The majority of accounts (that is, 95% of all accounts) won’t notice the improvement from 750ms to 500ms — unless you have superhuman perception!
But of course as your business grows — and with it the size of your WORK[etc] database — you can relax knowing that we’ve already solved the kinks to make sure everything will keep working almost as quick as it always has.
|Show all 278 projects a person has worked on.||1.48s||0.94s||157%|
|View a company and show all 8,476 support emails they’ve sent and received since the beginning of time.||4.22s||1.32s||320%|
|Show all of the 2,219 discussion posts that a contact has made.||3.07s||1.24s||248%|
|Show all 10,367 tasks a whole team has worked on in the Progress tab’s task list page.||1.69s||0.73s||232%|
|Show all of the 1,046 projects the whole company has ever worked on.||1.25s||0.63s||198%|
|Show all 170 activities the whole company has done for a single sales lead.||5.26s||1.50s||351%|
These performance releases went live to 50% of accounts last week and will be turned on for our other data center during this coming weekend. Plus we’re working on even more performance improvements with this next major release.
WORK[etc] has had a long partnership with QuickBooks Online maker Intuit. Being in the financial services industry, online security is a huge part of every Intuit product. So as a requirement of being a QuickBooks Online partner, every year we are subject to a torturous, but very valuable, third-party security audit to ensure we meet Intuit’s high security standards.
As a result of this most recent audit, we’ve worked hard to close a number of newly-identified vulnerabilities. Our latest security update includes new anti-automation techniques, a password re-authentication system, and much stronger password setting policies.
These multiple security upgrades will add another level of security not just for users of our QuickBooks Online integration but for all of our customers across the board.
Next Major Release
Straight up, this has taken significantly longer to deliver on than I had originally planned.
When we did the update project for the current user interface (UI) in late 2012, it was completed inside of three months. That was a simple refresh of the graphics and layout; think of it like simply repainting your home.
What we’re doing with the 2015 UI release is so much more complex. We’re stripping back all of the old paint, tearing down some walls, and pouring new foundations so that we’re ready to start building even floors in the future.
In terms of progress, we have completely finished the Contacts module of WORK[etc], probably the most important module as it underpins every single other action required to operate a business.
We’re also at 99% completion on all 46 of the repeated user interface objects such as the data table, selection menus, and object pickers. The new Gantt visualization tool is also 99% complete.
The job now is to take all the user interface objects and start assembling each of the modules. We’ve broken the back of this project, and now it’s a race to the finish line.
To take a look at progress, grab the slider in the image below to compare before and after sections.
As you can see, the functionality and layout is very similar still, but everything feels more modern and clean. This update will also be followed by a price change, and if so every existing customer will be guaranteed the chance to be grandfathered in on their current plan.