Product Priorities 2016 - Q2

3-May 2016 • Product
geoff professional
Geoff McQueen FOUNDER & CEO

We're a bit overdue publishing an updated product priority list, in large part because we chose to kick off 2016 with some pretty heavy-duty priorities that still have our product team pretty busy!

Since our last update at the end of 2015, we've released the following improvements:

The main work that has kept our team busy during 2016 so far, however, is continuing - a major overhaul to Billing, the new Timesheet Day View, introducing Bulk Edit/Delete - and we're also bringing in a couple of new priorities in Q2, with a big focus on improving the Projects Module and adding Requests to the mobile apps.

Here are the priority areas we're focusing on in Q2:

We'd love to hear your questions in the comments area, or if you've got something more specific feel free to email support@accelo.com!

Billing - Expenses, Materials, Quantities, Price List & Invoicing Upgrade

As outlined in our Q1 priorities post, our team has been working hard (and continues to work hard) on improvements to Accelo's whole approach to billing/financials.

Progress is good, but with something so central - it touches almost every module, deals with important integrations with accounting software and since we're dealing with money/financials, it is obviously really really important to get it right - it is something our teams are still working hard to deliver for our users. 

As an update, our team has built out our new Products and Services price list, which will provide an easy to update list of all our services (and any products/materials) you use throughout Accelo. 

service list cropmaterial list

This new system will handle things like ledger and tax codes (so your non-accounting users don't need to be baffled by that sort of thing) and will make the process of creating quotes and project plans easier than ever.

We've also extended the product/material feature to Tickets/Issues, so if you need to sell/deliver a product as part of doing a ticket for a client you'll easily be able to add the relevant item by SKU or Title - and have it flow through into billing. 

The Contracts/Retainers module has also had a major upgrade, with the ability to have the same Product/Material list bought into these recurring work items, making it easy to allocate the value of work done in Projects or Tickets onto a Retainer or create/track the work there directly. 

add material

In addition to the improvements for the Product list and flowing a consistent approach to services/materials throughout Accelo, we've also made a number of improvements to the Expenses module. Notably, with the new upgrade we'll be making it possible to have Expenses eat into the budget on projects, tickets and retainer allowances - so if you contract out a service to a third party and want to track their work as an "expenses" against your project and see it impact profitability, you'll be able to do that going forward. 

Bringing all of this together is going to be a new invoicing flow - and format. We'll be moving to 100% PDF invoices going forward - they'll be much more flexible, much more beautiful and will be able to include a lot more detail for your clients. The new invoicing module will also support quantities and prices/rates for their first time - something many users have been looking for!

The new invoices will also be templatable, so if you have a "Detail" invoice template which includes rates, quantities and a list of activities you're billing for, and other template like a "Summary" which just has the line items for the invoice and details on how your client can pay you.

While there's a lot here and we'd much prefer to be rolling it out gradually, the interlocking and foundational nature of a lot of this work - product list changes mean changes to ledgers/taxes which mean changes to rates and quantities which mean changes to budgets and calculations, all of which need to happen to support the new invoicing screens - means we need to keep focusing on execution - we're looking forward to sharing more details about these upgrades and their rollout in the next few weeks!

Project Module Enhancements

Projects are the heart of how many professional service businesses run, and the Project View screen in Accelo is the 2nd most viewed screen in the whole platform.

Given the importance of projects, we've been doing a lot of work - and hearing from a lot of clients - about how we can make our Projects module even better, and this is going to be the other big area of focus for us in Q2. 

The first area of improvement we're working on is making the project screens easier and faster to work with. This includes things like making sure users don't need to see a full screen reload just to change the status of a task or a milestone, and a range of other tweaks and polishes we know you'll appreciate.

The second area of improvement we're working on - and we've already made some progress here - is improving the project planning experience. We appreciate the current screen for editing project plans can be pretty frustrating, and one of the challenges we've got is that the library that underpins the planning screen has a bunch of limitations that drive us as crazy as they drive you. Improving/replacing this library and enhancing the interface for controlling budgets, dependencies and adjusting your project plans are all key priorities that we'll be working on as part of our upgrade work through this quarter.

The third area of improvement we'll be prioritizing this quarter is the introduction of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) in the form of a multi-project gantt chart. This interface will make it easier to see the various projects and milestones that you and your team are managing/juggling in one screen, and by combining them with our powerful filters functionality we're excited to give you a whole new level of insight and control of our projects across Accelo.

Daily Timesheet

Filling in your timesheet is a key part of Accelo - our Timesheet screen is our 5th most used screen and far and away the screen our users spend the most time on each day - but we've also heard that the fact the Timesheet screen shows a whole week at once makes it slower to load (since there's so much data) and obscures key data (like the subject of the activities you've already logged) more than it should.

To address this, we'll be introducing a new Daily Timesheet this quarter (continuing on the work we started in Q1). While we're not ready to open up beta testing here yet, the animation below was captured from live screens by our dev team.

timesheet gif

In addition to the powerful new visualizations shown above, we've also got a lot of improvements over the current work screen on the left and right hand sides of the new Daily Timesheet screen - filters, easy relocate, bringing the task timers into sync with the times used across Accelo and more.

day timesheetV3 Blog Post

This new screen will replace the current "Work" screen, and will be focused in showing you what you've done on a given day - as well as the gaps where you don't have anything logged - and is designed to be an easy to use place to scan through all of your work. With filters to narrow down the work you want to focus on, in line relocation to move work from one place (like the client record) to another (like the project you were actually doing for them) and an easily accessible task list, we're looking forward to giving our users a more streamlined yet rich way to see and enter the time for the work they're doing for their clients!

Bulk Edit & Delete

One of the features we've long wanted to add to Accelo - and that we've been working on in last quarter and will be shipping in this one - is the ability to update multiple records at once from our list screens. 

This new Bulk Edit and Delete functionality will make it easy to edit many records at once - whether it be adding companies or contacts to a new category, updating the value of a custom field, changing manager/owner assignments and in a future release changing status - we want to make it easy to find, select and update your data quickly and easily. 

Bulk Edit and Delete from List Screen in Accelo

When you choose to edit multiple records, you'll go through a short wizard process which will allow you to choose the fields you want to change, set values (or clear values) and then when you hit "Apply" we'll process your changes in the background.

Modal Framework + DateString

To start with we'll be shipping the ability to Delete multiple records at once - obviously only if you have Delete permissions! This should make it easy to clean out test data and other bulk cleanup operations - the edit functionality we're focusing on, with its more intensive user experience, will be added one after we get the delete capabilities live.

Formulas & Smarter Logic

Accelo's ability to support formulas - so you can define a custom field not just as a text field or date field that your users update, but as a smart calculation field which is able to add, subtract, combine or otherwise work with data as a calculation - has been really popular with our power users, but one of the shortcomings has been the inability to use logic as well as mathematics.

This quarter we're working on an enhancement to our formulas engine to support conditional logic, making reporting easier and much more powerful. An example would be the ability to set a "Due" date for a Ticket based on IF/THEN/ELSE style conditions, like saying "If the Ticket is of Priority=Urgent, set Due Date to be Created Date Plus 24 hours, else set Due Date to be Created Date Plus 3 Days". 

create formula crop

Purchase & Sales Orders

While Accelo is very much a system for Professional Service businesses, we know there's many professionals who need to include products they purchase from vendors as part of their service delivery model. Currently, tracking these purchases isn't possible inside Accelo, which is why once we've got the new Billing work live we'll be turning our finance attention to the Purchase and Sales Orders.

In addition to the changes around Billing, we're also making a priority this quarter to do some work around Purchase and Sales Orders. Purchase Orders in Accelo will be where you're able to take the new Materials functionality and choose a supplier/vendor, enter the buy price for the Materials/Products you're buying from them and create a Purchase Order to send to your vendor in PDF format. The Purchase Order will have the ability to track status - eg, draft, sent, shipped, delivered - as well as custom fields.

Sales Orders will be similar but they'll be where you track the Purchase Orders or commitments you get from your clients. The key with Sales Orders will be to have a structured way to upload the order (most commonly in PDF format) and the ID number of the client's order so that you can reference it in invoices.

Logging Time

In conjunction with the Daily Timesheet, we're also working on a new interface for logging work in Accelo - making it faster, easier and more obvious to enter time than the current activity interface allows. 

The new Log Time popup will be accessible through a very obvious button anywhere you can currently create an activity in Accelo, and will include not just the ability to specify your description and total time, but also specify the start and end time - something our Department of Defense subcontractors will love given its easy DCAA Timesheet Compliance.

Requests in Mobile

One of the modules we haven't yet bought to our mobile apps is our Requests Module - and this quarter we're making a priority of rectifying that! The aim here is to make it easy for team members to create requests on behalf of clients in the Accelo mobile app - so if you're talking to someone and they say "Would be great to get someone to follow up with me about X" or "Can you have someone fix issue Y" you'll be able to create a new request straight in the mobile app and have it appear in the right queue for the team (or you!) to follow up with when you're going through the list.

Inbox in Mobile

After bringing the stream to all of our list screens, the next step is to bring a mobile-friendly version of our Inbox feature to our mobile apps. Ideal for those times when you've got a few minutes out and about - like waiting for a bus or train - the objective of the new Inbox screen will be to make it easy for you to reply to or action any activities waiting for your attention - all with a few taps or a swipe.

More Performance Improvements

Finally, we outlined in our priorities update for Q1, our team spent a lot of time working on improving the performance of Accelo, and after a great result last month where we were able to improve the speed of the web app by 40%, our performance team are still working on further improvements!

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