It is hard to believe we're now into the final quarter of 2017, a year which has already been monumental here at Accelo. After announcing our new $9M in investment, the launch of the new ServOps category, and our partnership with HubSpot in the closing days of Q3, the team are excited to be focusing on Q4 - a quarter less about "big new things" and more about lots of helpful improvements that will delight our users and improve the functionality of Accelo.
While we're already working on dozens of minor product improvements this month - like the upgrade to our CSV import tool, new budget insights for projects, a redesign of the view activity screen and a lot more - there are still a number of bigger priorities we're working on too:
This is one where we've done most of the hard work and just need a little bit more time to bring it to life!
Accelo's Trigger functionality (available in our Premium products) have always been popular, but sometimes the trigger rules firing only every 15 minutes just aren't fast enough. While we accelerated them a lot last quarter, we also want to deliver native support for scenarios like "when a client sends an email containing 'Urgent' and the ticket is 'Resolved', then send a notification and reopen the ticket".
The new Scheduling Dashboard has been a real hit with our users, and it will continue to be our primary "big project" priority in Q4.
The improvements we're working on this quarter are in two general categories: improvements to the new Dashboard in "view" or report mode, and the delivery of a new interactive mode where you can adjust schedules.
In the reporting category, we'll be including the ability to filter work by Rates, as well as bringing in Contractor users under the "Work" tab interface. There are other small areas of polish and improvement too, many of which have come directly from user suggestions - so if you've got an insight to share, please let us know in the comments below!
Rate filtering, coming soon to the Scheduling Dashboard!
In the interactive category, we'll be introducing the ability to actually adjust/edit the schedules of team members right from the dashboard. This will involve both the ability to change existing assignments as well as assign work for users. We'll be delivering this in the same iterative model that we used during the preview, and we'd love to hear your feedback as we go - make sure you keep an eye out for our regular bi-weekly email updates where we'll be sharing the latest as things progress!
Schedule work for multiple people, on the days you want, reccuring over a date range.
This one is super close now, but also really complicated - we're hoping to have it live within the next 4 weeks!
Accelo currently uses intelligent dates that adapt project plans to the real world and estimate start and end dates for milestones and tasks when things run late - but, it hasn’t been intelligent enough.
When it comes to estimating start and end dates of a project schedule, Accelo currently doesn't make it easy for managers to assert start or due dates for projects and milestones in advance. Instead, we've relied a bit too much on team members to start and complete work accurately, which often doesn’t happen (as we know all too well). Accelo does support those fantastic situations whereby someone finishes work early - but in those instances, you really want to see those estimated finish dates slide forward, right?
With this upgrade, we’re going to allow you and your team members to have more control over how Accelo’s intelligent dates work. Here’s how: you’ll be able to assert dates on projects (which will involve milestones and tasks starting on their planned date automatically), making it easier to manage projects that have well defined and scheduled plans. Alternatively, you’ll be able to choose which dates on a project should “slide forward” when work is being done ahead of schedule! On top of that, we’ll also be sending emails to folks whose tasks and milestones are ready to kick-off (because dependencies are satisfied), taking the load off of project managers so they can spend more time managing and less time nagging (we’ve all experienced that).
With more and more large clients, more advanced and enterprise-friendly ways of authenticating users are becoming important for Accelo to support. Our teams are prioritizing the support of SAML, an industry-standard for Federated login (supported by Azure Active Director, OKTA, OneLogin, Office365 and others) which will allow administrators to connect Accelo with their integrated Identity Providers (IDP) and have Accelo perform authentication against the IDP of their choice.
If you would like to Beta test this new feature, please let us know by emailing email@example.com
While we've released a major upgrade to the way you're able to view activities in Accelo, we're not done yet! As a test of a very interactive and iterative process, we've been enhancing the view activity screen over the last couple of weeks, and will soon be taking the best parts of it and bringing them to life in the Stream interfaces on various view screens.
See when clients have clicked and opened emails via the stream
By making it easier to see which recipients have opened and clicked on individual activities, making it easy to see (and change) visibility, making the creation of tasks and related work simpler, and making it more streamlined than ever before to quickly reply to activities, we hope that this core piece of Accelo functionality will be even more valuable after this upgrade.
While talking about Activities, another priority related to them is an upgrade to the compose/creation experience to support rich text or HTML based activities. Long at the top of our Ideas Forum wishlist, this feature is one that our team is working hard to try and deliver as a Christmas present for all of our users.
With this upgrade, users will be able to create activities with bold and italics, bullets and lists, hyperlinks, colored text, and embedded images. We'll be showing these HTML activities in their full fidelity in our streams and activity view screens too, and while we're not expecting to tackle the scraping/ingestion of HTML emails that we automatically capture, at least our users will be able to have emails that are more visually impressive and flexible than what they've been able to have in the past.
Accelo's Quotes module is one of our priorities that gets the most feedback from users. While we're not planning on creating a browser-based desktop publishing system for the most elaborate quoting desires out there, we do realize that the limitations of the current Quotes module are frustrating, especially around layouts and encouraging standardization and reuse.
To solve these two problems, we'll be introducing new Quote Templates in the near future. These will borrow a lot of inspiration from the Invoice and Purchase Templates already in Accelo, and will allow users to define with a lot more flexibility what should be contained in a quote - from templated content (with merge fields) to templated projects and custom designs, we'll be making it a lot easier for you to deliver quotes you're proud of to your prospects, and to do it in record time.
Building on the much more user-friendly interface and engine for importing Client and Contact records via CSV that we released earlier this month, we'll be enhancing and upgrading a number of our other CSV imports. This will be a gradual process and something that will likely delight new users more than our existing clients, but is an important improvement nonetheless!
The details of your clients and the contacts you work with are both critically important to have right and the doorway to doing any client work at all in Accelo. Unfortunately, the user interface for creating or editing companies and contacts in Accelo isn't as good as it could or should be, with overbearing forms that don't look great on most screens the way things have always been.
One of the things we hear the most from our clients is around reporting and the desire for more custom reports. While we're working on supporting custom layouts, lists and grids directly in Accelo (with matching exports) for true power and configurability, nothing beats a dedicated Business Intelligence (or BI) system.
For the last couple of months our team has been working closely with two leading BI vendors: Microsoft (with their PowerBI product) and Grow.
We're hoping to be able to announce the beta release of our PowerBI reporting integration in coming weeks (right now our integration is in review on the Microsoft side). Similarly, our team is working with the folks at Grow to integrate Accelo's API into their reporting engine.
If you'd like to be involved in the beta for either of these two products as they become available, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For many of our users, entering expenses is almost as important as entering time, which is why the current interface for entering expenses is so frustrating. We've been working closely with a number of our clients on making both small improvements to the expenses module as well as a major improvement to how users see and work with expenses.
An overhauled Create Expense experience is coming soon
The major improvement is focused on the user interface and involves the more active use of "Expense Types" to simplify and streamline the inputs that users are expected to provide. An example would be choosing a "Mileage" expense type, which could then lock in place the "rate" per mile (or kilometer) and instead just ask the user to enter a quantity, with the rest of the calculations all done automatically. Similarly, for expenses that require a receipt to be attached, users could be required to supply one or more photos/attachments.
While a more minor thing for many users, for anyone who uses MailChimp alongside Accelo, we've got some great news coming with this quarterly priority.
The Accelo <> MailChimp integration uses a version of the MailChimp API that the folks at MailChimp have now retired, breaking our integration. With the improvements in Accelo since this integration was first written, we're looking forward to bringing a better experience for marketers through Accelo in the near future.
In addition to these areas of priority, we're also doing a lot of work in the background to prepare the ground for a monster Q1 of 2018. While the priorities below won't be making it into Accelo this quarter, we're setting things up (including with a lot of hiring) to make great strides in the following priority areas in the New Year:
Accelo has the ability to provide a lot of useful notifications - from letting you know that a high-value prospect just opened your email through to a notification that the project you're running has just gone over budget. One of the priorities we'll be gearing up to make great progress on in Q1 is a new notifications module/engine, which will allow you to control what notifications you get, when you get them, and also whether you get them in-app, via email, or as a smartphone push notification in real time.
Accelo's task board - including the ability to have custom statuses - have been an ongoing priority for our team, with design work largely complete and the big challenges of engineering remaining. As we make progress on the priorities above and hire more engineers for our product team through Q4, we're looking forward to also getting the technical work finalized to enable us to move forward strongly with brand new and highly configurable task boards.
Custom boards, with layouts of your chooosing, and much more
Custom Layouts & Reports:
Similarly to our task boards, the custom layouts and reports in Accelo are in advanced stages of planning and really just need more talented developers to bring them to life. With the increase in our team and completion of other priorities this quarter, we're also looking forward to making progress on this critical priority in Q1 next year.
Turn that list screen into a card view with custom columns with ease
Client Portal Upgrade:
Finally, the client portal - a massive project which will encompass white label domains and the ability to set a custom look-and-feel for your Accelo account - is something that is well advanced from a planning and scoping perspective, but an upgrade that needs more bandwidth to deliver. While the priorities above will likely push this delivery out into Q2, we're passionate about bringing this improvement to life as soon as we can.