With so much activity over the last month or so with our major Projects Module Upgrade and Invoice Module as well as dozens of little updates (including yesterday's Vacation/Leave Scheduling update), we're only just getting caught up to share the latest of our Q3 priorities.
Looking ahead to the rest of Q3 and the rest of 2018, we've got a lot of momentum, helped in no small part by the growth in our product team (already almost 50% bigger now than at the start of the year).
Our priorities for this quarter include:
The Booking feature we launched in Q2 has been very popular with users, and we're close to shipping the next thing our users have been asking for - the ability to easily edit Bookings from the Schedule Dashboard.
With this improvement, you'll be able to quickly take control of team member's schedules by editing the auto-allocated time as well as commitment bookings from the Scheduling Dashboard. Just hover, click, and you're done, with the system intelligently recalculating the auto-allocations for other dates.
As part of our work in Q1 around the Scheduling Upgrade, we realized we needed to make some significant improvements to the way work is assigned. If our sales and success team members had a dollar for every time someone asked them to "Assign a task to multiple people", they'd be rich, and so this quarter (in conjunction, and tightly coupled to) our work with the Scheduling Upgrade, we're also working on a new interface and feature for Assigning work to team members.
With this upgrade, you'll be able to split up the budget of time associated with work in Accelo, and importantly, if you don't take active control the system will still automatically assign time in the scheduling and utilization forecasts based on who's the owner/manager of the work. If you start to dish out a couple of hours here and a couple of hours to there to different folks, Accelo will still be smart enough to make sure the rest of the work is accounted for so you're not in the dark, adapting intelligently. This work was pushed back in Q2 to accommodate priorities around Bookings but is now being worked on by our developers and we hope to ship it to our Premium users soon!
Our integration with Office365 is one of our most popular, with the ability to synchronize contacts, appointments, tasks and of course emails between Accelo and Office365 (and legacy Exchange 2007+) being invaluable for thousands of our users.
Behind the scenes, we've been working hard for a number of months on a major overhaul to the way Accelo and Office365 work together. The current integration uses an integration that Microsoft hasn't been investing in for some time (for the technically minded, Exchange Web Services or EWS, a horrible SOAP API). This integration is slow and cumbersome, and Microsoft recently announced that they'd be formally retiring it in October 2020.
Our upgrade work is focused on re-implementing (and at the same time dramatically upgrading) our Office365 integration with Microsoft's Graph API. This will provide a number of benefits for clients, including:
The Graph API is powerful but also fairly new, making progress slower than we'd like. The benefit of this effort is that we'll be able to have a cutting edge and much high performing integration for our users for the long term.
Since almost the beginning of the quarter, we've been waiting for the good people at Google to review and approve our new Gmail Add-On. We hope that approval is imminent because we've got a lot of clients waiting to use this feature in the new Gmail - not to mention that Google will be migrating all of their users across to the new version after August 21st.
If you'd like to be told as soon as the Gmail Add-On is available, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be sure to let you know. We'll also advise the rest of our users as part of our regular bi-weekly updates.
With our release in Q1 of the Rich Text feature for creating activities in Accelo, we've understandably had a number of our clients want to see the same kind of visual magic with the emails that Accelo captures from external sources (eg, incoming emails from clients).
Last quarter we made some progress but realized we needed to go a lot further and a lot deeper - the incoming emails are certainly a messy thing to handle properly. If you'd like to get in on the beta when we're ready, please email email@example.com and we'll turn it on for your deployment!
With the Projects Module Upgrade released last month, we also delivered the first of many new screens for Creating and Editing records in Accelo. Our team is almost finished with the Company and Contact upgrade (critical to improving since Accelo depends on having a Company/Contact to create work against), and we'll then be moving onto improvements to the Ticket and Sale creation screens after that.
With a lot of new design patterns and a focus on making these screens delightful as well as functional, we're looking forward to accelerating the rollout through the quarter as we benefit from increased re-use.
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.
One of the other things we've been hearing from users is that they want to keep their existing expense entry systems - with Expensify being the most popular - because of the speed of reimbursement and auto capturing of details from smartphone photos. Our team is also working on an integration with Expensify to make it easy for users to create expenses with their powerful submission, approval and reimbursement platform, and then have the expenses come into Accelo automatically.
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.
These two scenarios are just scratching the surface, but the bottom line is that we're committed to making expense tracking a more easy and delightful experience for our users.
With powerful automation (especially around recurring work like Retainers) and billing, it makes complete sense for Accelo to not only create invoices but to also help you get them paid!
Now that we have payment synchronization in place with Quickbooks Online and Xero, we're finally able to prioritize automatic payment processing.
As we leaned into this feature in Q1, we realized that one of the challenges for a company like ours with clients all over the world is finding the right partners to support this feature. We continued progress on this feature in Q2, but it is still going to take a bunch of time and work to get right!
When complete, you'll be able to enter the credit card details of your client into Accelo (and when the client portal is upgraded, allow them to enter/update it themselves) and set rules like what cards can be used to process what types of invoices (Retainers only, or Projects and Retainers, or anything at all), set the max payment to charge per day and then (well deserved) sit back, and let the money roll in.
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're working on this quarter 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. With more amazing developers on board than ever before, this quarter we're excited to move beyond concepts and plans into more concerted development for these improvements and get closer to shipping these brand new and highly configurable task boards.
Custom boards, with layouts of your choosing, and much more
Similarly to our task boards, the custom layouts and reports in Accelo are well planned and designed but are proving to be a lot of work to bring to life.
Turn that list screen into a card view with custom columns with ease
For a long time, we've been resting on the laurels of the default search for finding work in the iOS app. It worked at the time we implemented it, but it falls drastically short in this era of apps. We want you to find the work you need when you need it most. When this goes live, you'll be able to search globally across all work types, filter to just one type of work and finally see what you've recently visited. Keep your eye on the app store for a major update coming.
As the first part of our work to upgrade the client portal of Accelo, we're going to give our users the ability to customize the look and feel of their own Accelo account. This will allow you to put your own logo in the top left of the Accelo interface, along with customizing the main color/focus of the Accelo interface to better represent your own company's colors and style.