Long time Accelo users will remember our policy of publishing quarterly priorities, and might have noticed that we hadn't published one since late last year. The reason for the hiatus was that we spent the last six months or so retooling how we manage and prioritize product here at Accelo, and given the previous blog posts had tended to be more aspirational than predictive, we wanted to make sure we had gotten things in a good place before publishing this update.
In addition to a lot of internal activity - we've more than doubled the size of our product team in the last 6 months - a couple of months ago we completely rebooted our Ideas Forum, and are doing a lot more research-driven projects and surveys.
From a product delivery perspective, some of the highlights so far in 2019 include:
Insights Tabs on Periods and Retainers
Task Status Filter on the Schedule Dashboard
Integration with Wordstream
Profitability on Companies
Integration with Mailchimp's Contacts
Moving forward, we wanted to share our major Product Priorities across all of our teams for this quarter (and beyond).
Improved reporting is one of the most common things we hear from clients, and this quarter we've made our highest priority a new custom list reports engine.
This new feature will allow users more flexibility to create, save and share customized list reports, so that they have easy access to the data and information they need to manage their work, their teams and their business. We are excited to introduce more Filters options and customized layouts of columns in addition to enhanced navigation for Report Creation, Editing and Viewing.
Work is already underway around back-end infrastructure improvements to improve performance (speed) and flexibility for this new reporting engine, and we're already well advanced in our designs (as per the screens above). If you've got any ideas or requests to share, feel free to add them to our Ideas Forum!
In what are actually a large number of individual improvements, we're focusing on giving our users more discreet and useful insights into the profitability of their work and their clients. Specific areas of focus include:
A new Profitability Permission: currently you need to be an Admin to see Profitability information (given its sensitivity), but this results in too coarse a choice, and reasonably not all clients want to give their users full system access just to see if the work they're managing is profitable. We're close to introducing this new permission that will give our users more control over who can see what without giving them the keys to the entire castle.
Profitability on Retainers: our clients love Retainers for managing client work, but they miss the ability to see the Insights they get from things like our Projects module. With this improvement, they'll get to see profitability on client retainers - a critical benefit given how much work is being done through retainers today!
Profitability on Clients: similarly to the improved profitability on Retainers, we also want to make it easier to see the profitability on a per client basis. This will make it easier for account managers to see on a single client screen how profitable their client has been over a specific duration of time in the past.
We will be updating our Create and Edit screens for Sales in order have consistent user experiences across the Create and Edit screens for all of our core modules. Our goal is to make these screens more user friendly as well as enhance the functionality we provide around templating Sales so users can get up and running with new Sales as quickly as possible, and will include more "default-setting" for different Sales Types, improving consistency and saving time!
After the success of launching Gusto and going into beta for our new MailChimp integration in Q2, we're accelerating things in Q3 when it comes to integrations!
Our biggest project is our Office365 upgrade, which is a complete rewrite and is a lot faster and more feature packed than our previous integration. We're getting ready to take the beta label off, but there's still time if you want to join the beta now - just email email@example.com. Some of the most exciting features of the new integration include:
The Address Book: A new engine for syncing your contacts which offers single-setting configuration to sync your company's entire contact database between Accelo and your Office 365 account in real-time.
A new, sophisticated calendar integration to more accurately sync your complex schedule.
An increased level of security through support for Office 365's native two-factor authentication system.
We're also working hard through the quarter to make improvements to our integrations with Google's GSuite/Google Apps platform, and their included products like Gmail and Google Calendar. Last quarter, we rebuilt our Google Tasks integration in an effort to simplify how tasks were synced between the two systems. Users will see this effect as a significantly quicker sync of task updates between the two systems, such as more quickly reflecting your completed tasks!
In terms of core integrations, we're also doing a lot of work on our Xero and QuickBooks Online integrations. We've just begun a private beta for the Xero integration which uses webhooks to ensure a nearly real-time sync of new transactions created in Xero with Accelo. Building on the theme of speed, work is underway across both accounting integrations to sync Material and Service Items and Ledger and Tax Codes in a much more real time and automated fashion, so that Accelo never gets out of sync with your accounting system.
Additionally, we're close to introducing a range of new category of integration to make it easy for our users to link the work which they're tracking in Accelo to quickly access information in the other online tools they use to perform their client work. A couple of the products which we'll be including in the initial release of this new category are Wordstream and Hatchbuck. If you'd like to suggest additional integrations, especially of this smart linking variety, let us know in our Ideas Forum!
Over the course of 2019, the iOS and Android teams have made major updates to apps’ Global Search functionality, as well as an upgrade to the appearance of Accelo Timers. This next quarter, the team is focusing on improvements for road-warriors, including extending the template benefits of the new Expenses module to both our iOS and Android apps. This improvement will make it easier for folks to submit expenses by choosing their type - such as meals or mileage - and then only have to fill in the relevant fields - such as number of miles or the total price of a meal along with tax - more quickly and easily.
In addition to the Expenses upgrade, we're also working on bringing the popular checklists feature on Tasks into our iOS and Android apps. This should make it easier for users to keep their work up to date, especially in those gaps at the beginning and end of the day when you're waiting for a bus or train and want to do something more productive than check in on the 'gram.
Lastly, we're rolling out extended functionality to the mobile app to make it easier to fully edit company and contact records in Accelo. We know that it is often those times when you're talking to a prospect or contact that you realize their role has changed, they've gotten married and you want to update their name, or where you get a text and think "I wonder if I have their mobile number in Accelo?". For these and many other situations, being able to make the change from your smartphone will be super helpful.
One of the big changes we've made over the last few months is building out our Product team to better enable prioritization, research and discovery.
We have a number of focus areas which are feeding into Q4 priorities, with one of the main ones to investigate how we can make the arduous task of resourcing and scheduling client work as seamless as possible inside of Accelo - decreasing the time spent by Managers responsible for the delivery of client work.
Our team is also looking to understand where individual users experience the most friction within their daily use of Accelo - frustrations with tasks, timesheets and keeping their own work up to date are front and center for us to dig into deeper. We want to ensure that every user of Accelo can easily and efficiently manage their time, deliver client work on time and collaborate with colleagues in order to do so.
If you'd like to get in touch to share your own experience/perspective on this or other topics, we'd love to hear from you - simply email firstname.lastname@example.org!
We look forward to launching all of our major Priorities over the course of 2019 and continuing to complete as many incremental improvements as we can. Keep your eyes out for an update to our Product Priorities in September for the final stretch of 2019!