Accelo Product Priorities - Q3 of 2020

Product Priorities Update: Q3 of 2020

13-Aug 2020
Product
Molly Flynn
Molly Flynn SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER

After the strangest Q2 in memory, as most of the world has moved towards a remote, at-home work culture, we here at Accelo have been keeping busy on a range of improvements to our product to help our clients weather the current economic storm.

We know Accelo is a crucial part of the success of your business, and we've been focusing on improvements that give you the insights you need to make informed financial and operational decisions for you and your team. 

In addition to four larger initiatives and features that will be reviewed below, our teams were focused on perfecting Agile practices across the Engineering team, adopting a new company-wide prioritization and Roadmapping process over the course of Q2. We are excited to announce that two of our four larger initiatives - our new Navigation and our upgraded Microsoft 365 integration are currently available to users and our new Reporting Module is now in a private beta. Our other major upgrade is our Custom Lists project, which will become available for beta late this quarter. 

Below you will find highlights from Q2 2020 and our plans for Q3. 

Q2 2020 Notable Releases

While Q2 was primarily focused on larger initiatives and features, we still had dozens of releases in Q2, which covered hundreds of individual developer tickets, and you can always find updates on what we’ve been doing in our special Updates blog!

Redesigned Navigation

Over the course of the last three months, we have been testing and iterating on a brand new Navigation. Building on a lot of data analysis as well as feedback from users, this new navigation makes Accelo less intimidating for new or casual users, faster to get around for our power users and more attractive for all users. 

Our redesigned Navigation was released in early July as an opt-in Beta for all users. We appreciate all of the feedback that we have received from each of you and are continuing to tweak and improve specific features and functionality. You can continue to provide feedback on our Ideas Forum, as usual!

Some of the improvements that we have already released since the first day of the Beta include:

  • Global Search now displays up to 50, instead of 10 results
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Added back the slash “/” shortcut for starting search, and use of arrow keys ↑↓ for selecting a result
  • One-click behavior of the Top Nav is re-implemented and we added the ability for every user to customize which screen they are taken to upon click. Find this customization in User Preferences
  • Ability to turn the Stream on or off in the Top Nav
  • Fixed the inconsistent results issue with the Quick Filters (pre-built lists) accessed from the new Expanded menus
  • Added back “My Lists” to easily access your personal saved filters

Additional work is underway to improve the fidelity of the Search Results and add back in some existing behavior, like making all of the Breadcrumbs clickable from the Search Results dropdown.

Look out for a future announcement when the redesigned Navigation will be released to all of our users full-time!

Microsoft 365 Integration Upgrade 

We’ve upgraded and in some cases, built-anew, our Microsoft 365 (previously Office365) so that our integration no longer relied on the older Exchange Server technologies to keep your emails, calendars, contacts and tasks in sync, but instead it now takes full advantage of the latest Microsoft APIs to maximize performance, features and automation. With these upgrades, we released our integration from Beta for any of you who are also Microsoft 365 users.

Some of the most exciting improvements to our Microsoft 365 integration includes our use of Microsoft 365 which makes the data syncing that occurs between Accelo and Microsoft 365 lightning fast. Like the ability to capture emails sent or received in Microsoft 365 within seconds instead of a several minute delay. 

To read the full breakdown of the improvements we released to our Microsoft 365 Integration this quarter, check out a special blog post written by our Integrations PM, Hugh Cowling!

Files & Attachments Storage Upgrade 

Our Infrastructure team is a busy team of talented folk who we like to refer to lovingly as magicians. They take care of so many critical processes that support our Product’s functionality, performance and users.

In Q2, we released a File & Attachments storage system upgrade into Beta. This upgrade offers improved security, additional flexibility and increased fidelity between your actual files and the metadata we save against those files in our databases. You can check out more details in our blog post written by our Infrastructure Team Lead, Brett Hagelstein!

Company and Contact Updates (Mobile - coming soon!)

Users will be able to Add and Edit Company and Contact information while on-the-go. While this sounds simple, the incredible flexibility we give our users to customize fields, categories and more makes these challenging interfaces to support universally on iOS and Android devices. These are important people who are members of new business, or sales, teams as they interface with potential prospects at events such as road shows and conferences. It's also helpful for individuals who often travel to their clients and need client details to be up-to-date at all times. 

 

Priorities Currently Underway

Reporting, Dashboards and Business Intelligence

Accelo is the system that allows our clients’ operations to run and therefore, it stores a lot of important business data that our clients need to make resourcing, process and financial decisions to achieve their own business goals. This past quarter we were focused on improving our users ability to access and analyze this data.

Our new Reporting feature will allow users - subject to them having the appropriate permissions, modules and the Reporting add-on activated - to use almost 100 interactive Reports to view and analyze their key Accelo business data in real time, by filtering, drilling down and even exporting massive amounts of information for the first time within our system.

This feature is currently in private beta, and if you're interested in being a part of the beta (and providing feedback on the usefulness, quality and accuracy of the Reports we are building) please email beta@accelo.com

Major List Screen Upgrades with Custom Columns

Encompassing dozens of screens, thousands of variables and hundreds of potential columns that our users will be able to choose to include on any given list screen, this major upgrade to our list screens continues to be our largest engineering project - and we're almost ready to share it with our users. 

When this feature is completed, you can expect to be able to choose additional Columns to be shown on the upgraded Lists, the ability to customize the order of those Columns and have a wider variety of Filtering options. We've also worked hard throughout this massive project to focus on performance - 20% of all page views in Accelo today are these list screens, and we know that their current performance is a big frustration to many of our users, so improving this continues to be a top priority.

After a successful Q2 - we have 7 of our List screens built with all of the newly enhanced performance and front-end functionality in place, our goal is to have this upgrade available as a Beta program to some of our customers in early Q4 and then rolling it out as a sort of sneak peak to the rest of our customers before the new year. 

Checklists on Tasks (Mobile)

We were blown away by the response when we introduced Task Checklists, and because of our need to grow our mobile engineering team, we've still been playing catch up on this popular feature. This quarter we're working on making Checklists on Tasks available on the Mobile App. Users will have the ability to check/uncheck a checklist item as they are able to do so anywhere, any time! 

Upcoming Q3 Priorities

Smarter QuickBooks Online Integration

We’re continuing to cement our partnerships with Xero and QuickBooks to offer bi-directional sync of information, particularly within invoices and payments. Though the improvements for Xero were completed at the start of 2020, parity with our QuickBooks integration is still coming.

While at the moment, some line items changes must be made from the Accelo side, this upgrade will ensure that any changes you make on the QuickBooks will sync into Accelo, ensuring invoice data matches perfectly between the systems. Whether changing a line item’s product code, account code or just changing the order of the line items - every detail will update in Accelo within seconds, ensuring we’re never out of step with your accounting system.

By tracking the individual line item changes more closely, Accelo will be able to update and maintain the integrity of the “amount of budget invoiced” data for the underlying project, retainer or ticket - eliminating the risk of project accounting errors due to invoice changes outside of Accelo.

Research & Design Priorities

Scheduling & Resourcing (Completed Q2 2020)

This past quarter, our primary research focus was first and foremost around Scheduling and Resourcing. Our team interviewed 40 customers to understand how different workflows for Work Assignment, Resource Scheduling, Utilization and Availability, Work Prioritization interact with the screens, features and functionality that currently exist inside of Accelo. 

Over the course of that research we heard about two major challenges that our customers face:

  • Individuals do not feel like they have a centralized place to understand what they need to work on today, tomorrow or the next day - both scheduled and unscheduled - so that they can make more informed decisions about what they should prioritize. Relatedly, managers have a hard time understanding the load on any given user’s day to help re-schedule or assign that work.
  • Managers are challenged by the lack of insights they have when attempting to make scheduling and resourcing decisions. For example, Accelo has all of the right features, screens and functionality for Work Assignment and Resource Scheduling, but they are disparate and separated throughout the system. We need to do a better job of providing insights like availability or utilization when Managers are trying to assign or schedule resources to do work.

Some of the concepts that we are looking to A/B test and implement over the coming months to get feedback from users on include:

Improvements to the Booking Interface

Our Booking Modal - where work is Scheduled or Committed - to include insights about users availability and utilization, so that Managers can be more confident that the work scheduled to any given user can be completed on time and on budget! We’re also going to make the Booking Modal accessible on screens like the Schedule Dashboard and the Assign Work Screen, so that users can more easily take advantage of our powerful Scheduling and Utilization system. This is important because without using this tool, the insights and data about Utilization and Resourcing that our customers can now gather from our Reports feature won’t be as accurate in real-time as it could be.

Enhanced My Schedule Screen 

A new, enhanced My Schedule screen that provides a comprehensive view of Scheduled and Committed Bookings for a user, while also positioning unscheduled Work associated with them on the same screen. Through the drag and drop functionality, users can take control of their own schedules and ensure that critical client work gets done on time and on budget.

We'll continue to update you on improvements and upgrades we make throughout the quarter. If you have any feedback or suggestions for our team, please be sure to leave us a note in our Ideas Forum.

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