I am surprised that you spent so much time on changing the interface for emails. This was unexpected. I understood and accepted the fact the fact that you had to invest time and money into the architecture of this product to be able to provide features to your customers at a higher quality and a faster time to market. I would like to understand how this area was chosen to be redesigned over all of the other items on our wish list? This area only impacts the administrators of the system. I am not sure you advanced this area at long. Takes more steps and I don't see any significant improvements.
A simplified event would have been an awesome surprise to many of us. Even something like allowing a member to cancel their reservation to free event. Or allowing a member to quickly so No, I dont want to come, so that they aren't bombarded with registration emails. Very disappointed in the lastest release. I could get past the downtime issues you had, but am disappointed that this enhancement was chosen over the others. Not sure why you are asking for feedback and preferences from your customers and we are surprised when the new app hits our website with little or no time to communicate to our users.
To a positive, your help desk has been patient and quite helpful.
Let me start from appreciating your feedback – it takes time to write down comments and I value it a lot.
I also share your frustration about “Not sure why you are asking for feedback and preferences from your customers” – I can see that you’ve been using our Wishlist forum a lot, voted for a number of ideas. You’ve spent time on it, and you want to see some results back from us. Not seeing good enough progress creates an impression that we’re doing nothing and basically are lying that we want to hear our customers. I can totally understand this and as I said, I do share your frustration about this.
Having said this, let me share some internal details that may clarify our position – or may not :)
As you mentioned, we “had to invest time and money into the architecture of this product to be able to provide features to your customers at a higher quality and a faster time to market”. But this was not the only investment we did. A bigger investment was into our internal company structure and processes around Wild Apricot software development.
We used to have a single team of engineers doing development, testing, deployments and all other works related to software development and maintenance. In this setup, we had a single person (Product Manager – me, and before me – our president, Dmitri) who was responsible for general product roadmap and prioritization of features. This was working for some time, but not great for a number of reasons I cannot really quickly share here. Overall, we saw that we had hit some ceiling and we cannot make a major breakthrough in our internal growth and as a result, we cannot deliver to our clients what they want and what we want as well.
Over a year ago we started a big change – we grew a lot and reorganized our development teams into a set of smaller teams, each of them focusing on particular area of our product. This was happening at the same time as we were doing this architecture change you mentioned. Both changes have been very stressful for all of us, as it was not just about some issues in software, but changes in very basic business collaboration processes creating a lot of confusion inside our global team.
The biggest change was creation of independent product development teams (we call them crews) that are totally focused on particular product areas – like Event management, Emailing, Website, Membership, Payments and Finances, Mobile. Plus a number of other service teams that are helping with a numerous internal product services and tasks. Each of product teams is totally responsible for the whole area, including collaborating with customers to better understand needs and share preliminary results of their work.
As of now, I can say that the teams are in a more or less in a good state and starting to recover from all the “investments”. It is still stressful and we’re not doing the best we can, but I clearly see that we’ve been able to create a scalable business structure where each crew, independently, can evolve their part of the product experience. There are still a number of internal issues we want to solve, but I’m sure it’s going to be ok over time.
Now, going back to the problem you mentioned.
Our email development team is one of the teams I mentioned. They are focused on this area only and this was their “debut”. Wether it’s successful or not, I don’t really want to comment here, there a number of reason why they did that. And even if it was not the best shot, I’m very confident that they will listen and improve. If you’re interested in their position and want to know more details about this particular email redesign, you can read recent post from one of the crew developers – see https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932/suggestions/15971686
As for events, another development team is fully focused on improving this area. I would say that they are still warming up and recovering from all the internal work we’ve been doing so far, but they getting better and already working on some changes that will be done in Q4 and much more next year. You can see more at our Product Roadmap – https://help.wildapricot.com/display/DOC/Product+roadmap. I do agree with you, that events is a very important area and we’re dropping the ball here a little, but with all above I feel confident about the future. We will cover all the major request in events, no doubt about this.
The last thing I want to mention: wishlist is our top priority for product roadmap. I’m personally, as a Product Manager, having constant ongoing discussions with all development teams to make sure that we’re having progress over top requested features. I really hope that the big change we’ve been investing a lot, will show some ROI over time. Wether it’s happening or not, we will see from the reaction of valued clients like you. So far it’s not been reality, but I do hope it’s turning into the right direction now.
To put in a nutshell all above
- I share your frustration
- It’s been hard time for Wild Apricot, a lot of internal restructuring, not just architecture
- We have multiple independent team dedicated on areas of product
- Some of them are faster (like Emailing), some slower (like Events), but we’re speeding up
- We believe that all the changes were required and soon we’re going to see results of it
Thanks again for your time and feedback, Katheryn.
AdminEvgeny Zaritovskiy (VP Technology of Wild Apricot by Personify, Wild Apricot by Personify) commented
Thank you for understanding, I appreciate this a lot.
On Sep 12, 2016, at 3:08 PM, Katheryn Wolz <email@example.com> wrote:
Hi There –
First, I wanted to thank you for your detailed explanation. It was appreciated that you not only responded, you responded with details and you did it rather quickly. That was awesome customer service. As I mentioned before, I totally understand and applaud the leadership at WA to recognize that they had a make a significant investment in IT architecture in order for WA to grow and provide a valuable service to your customers. I have been in technology for years, in application development, creating commercial products and know how challenging it is to tell your customers you essentially that you need 6 months to a year to change the foundation in order for you to deliver world class enhancements in the future.
I also understand how you have divided you application teams, and why email enhancements came out first. I am still unclear as to the real need for this improvement, as it seems more cumbersome, but if your others users are happy with it, I can’t really complain, as I know you cannot please everyone. However, some advanced warning about the change would have been preferred.
In the future, I hope when you are determining what features makes it to the roadmap that you also focus on “my customer”. I feel I can deal with jumping through hoops, pulling manual reports, creating manual work arounds etc … it is easy to do on the administrative side of WA. It is my customers that I want to please and make them want to visit the site to see what’s happening and signing up for events. To date, the biggest complaints I have regarding WA from my customers side is that registering for an event take too many steps. They just was a simple, “Yes I want to come” vs going through many screens. They understand the need, when there are costs, menu selection, seating choices, guests etc…. but the majority of what they do is just a simple “Yes I will be there” or “No, I can’t make it”. I can have the best administrative area and send out the best invitations, but, if they refuse to complete the form electronically and choose to send me an email with sign me up please.. I cannot justify the costs of this product.
Again, thanks for everything you do. And most importantly, thank you for listening.
Katheryn, Customer Advocate Apricot