Public Roadmap for the next 12 or 24 months?
We have received a requests to publish Wild Apricot development roadmap:
"I would however strongly suggest that to be fair to your current customer base, that you publish your tentative development plan of what WA is considering of delivering in the next 12 and 24 months and additionally of any other items in the wishlist if they are still possibly being considered for future delivery or are totally off the list."
Current Wild Apricot position on Public roadmap:
- our current Roadmap is what we are working on now – https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932/status/1547997
Our “Work in progress” list can take us easily up to year to complete and we constantly updating it. Whoever voted for an idea, will automatically receive updates when we update its status
- we used to publish our roadmap but цуку never able to fully follow it and it always produced tensions from customers following it; the roadmap was always perceived as a a promise even though we kept repeating it was not
- publishing roadmap requires some place to discuss it; people have different priorities, arguments happen, this all need ongoing moderation = time. We have no special place for it, except this forum – and its already serving this purpose.
- we use Voting system here to inform us on our customers priorities (the more votes, the higher the priority), but the Wishlist is not the only sources of our roadmap – we have internal product strategy, customer support tickets, performance and security improvements, devops projects, test automation and plainly experimental ideas. Still, we review comments and ideas every day.
@Evgeny - There are a few missing steps that would be very helpful for us to know. For example, there's a gap between "Work in Progress" and "Resolved." I understand the difficulty balancing announcing release dates in advance and disappointing customers with delays, but it's very frustrating having feature releases sprung on me. I'm in charge of keeping our staff informed about updates and how they affect our workflow. So to not know until the day of the release exactly which things are implemented (and how they work) is very stressful. It would be useful to have documentation pages available on features before their release, and to at least have a month's heads up about the exact date on which they will roll out to our account. Maybe have a category for "Scheduled for Implementation on [Date]" to be used when you have finished developing and testing a feature, and know when you will roll it out. There are a lot of items on the "Work in Progress" list and it's hard to know which ones we'll actually be getting next.
And similar to what Walt stated, there's also a missing step before "Work in Progress." This would help stem some of the questions on topics about "any forward movement on this yet?" And it would give us a better idea of the general roadmap, without making any promises that can't be kept.
So maybe the categorical progression could be slightly more nuanced, for example:
Under Consideration / Collecting Comments (for when it's been added to your internal roadmap for consideration)
Design & Input Phase
Development / Coding Phase
Scheduled for Implementation on [Date]
Resolved / Done
You also stated that the Wishlist is not the only source of your roadmap. It would be nice if there was a little more transparency about the "behind-the-scenes" considerations. If you help the users see more specifics about how much work is being done on the overall product goals, performance, security, bugs, etc. they will probably be more understanding about why new features sometimes take a while to implement.
Walt, we're considering having one mire status similar (or even the same) as you suggested. Thanks for comments, appreciate it
Walt Bilofsky commented
Evgeny, thanks for your reply.
I suggest that the Work in Progress list is not a complete Roadmap.
The missing part - which I suggest adding - would be a status category for "Under Consideration": those items that are not yet in progress but are being considered most seriously or have been internally scheduled.
That category would give those hoping for a feature more of an indication of its priority, without promising any schedule. And it would allow those of us sophisticated enough to use the Status filter to provide design and priority suggestions before work actually starts.
I do understand the need to balance more accessible information against the staff time necessary to deal with feedback on it. Every hour spent on dealing with suggestions is an hour less on implementing them.
Original comments posted at https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932/suggestions/12479814, but removed as not related to the discussion and posted here.
Robin commented September 23, 2018 3:35 PM
While fully understanding the process in the software development world (I have been involved in that for more years than I care to remember) and that there are only so many resources (people, time and money), it is also important that the enhancements being developed are what the customer want the most and not what the architect thinks are the coolest. And with all due respect to the architect (and I have often seen this), the architect does not use the software every day to support the needs of the customers and sadly is often out of touch with these needs.
Now obviously, I am going to consider some requirements as more important than others and vice versa.
But we 'the user group' of WA really have very little idea of what is in the pipeline and how it is going to be implemented until it is announced as delivered in the latest release.
Your team on the other hand as per your post below, do have a plan. And I understand that it is only a plan and that it may not actually be delivered.
I would however strongly suggest that to be fair to your current customer base, that you publish your tentative development plan of what WA is considering of delivering in the next 12 and 24 months and additionally of any other items in the wishlist if they are still possibly being considered for future delivery or are totally off the list.
Collectively, we the WA customers give WA a very large amount of $$$ every year and as most of us are not for profits - these $$$ are really very expensive for us, even more so for those of us from outside of the USA who also have to face exchange rates.
Are you legally obliged to tell us what you are thinking of delivering? NO. Is it the ethical thing to do? YES.
If you publish this list as a forum item and make sure that you inform ALL users of its existence, you will most certainly get a whole lot of feedback as to what is in the pipeline. It will either verify that what you are planning is what the users want to tell you that you have it totally wrong. Either way - it would be good feedback and if responded to would significantly help to grow your customer base and maybe even more importantly retain your existing customer base. Keeping existing customers is much more cost effective than acquiring new customers to replace those who have left. And while maybe not in these forums, but in the WA Tribe FB page I see way too many comments from people who are saying that lack of certain features are making them look at other platforms.
Walt Bilofsky commented September 24, 2018 10:12 AM
What portion of the WA user base actually participates in the Wishlist? How many of us who do are aware of all the possible enhancements being discussed?
My guess is that we are not a good sample, and not very representative because those of us here are either more interested in the systems, more power users, more unhappy with something missing, or a combination.
If WA is interested in aligning development with what the user base wants, Robin's suggestion to inform ALL users of the roadmap is a good way to do it.
I will also suggest that from a marketing point of view, one way to build loyalty among customers is to instill a sense that the vendor is listening to them (without, of course, raising unreasonable expectations).
Robin commented September 24, 2018 12:55 PM
@Walt, well stated.
The methodology of informing customers has many possibilities. The key thing is to actually inform customers of what is in the 12 month and 24 month pipeline (planned and may not be delivered) and to also provide details before implementation as to how it will be implemented so that customers can provide feedback on proposed solutions before they are set in concrete.
Walt Bilofsky commented September 25, 2018 12:59 AM
I think the developers do a pretty good job of providing details to this group before implementation of complex features.
What is needed from the broader customer base is prioritization of features. So bring back the public roadmap, and be clear on functionality, but not necessarily design details.
Evgeny Zaritovskiy (Product Manager, Wild Apricot by Personify) commented
Walt, Robin, I believe the this Wishlist forum is exactly the tools for the vendor (us, Wild Apricot) to connect and listen to our customers (you). We - I as Product Manager, and all our Product owners, responsible for particular areas of the product - are receiving every comment and new idea posted here. This is basically how my day starts - reviewing all the feedback. So on this regard, I believe we're doing a good job and so far I have no plans to change it.
As for public roadmap: we use the voting system in the Wishlist to guide us on priorities if our customers.