Wild Apricot Software News May 2010

Dmitriy Buterin 06 May 2010 0 comments

Whenever I hand out my business cards, people frequently notice my title: "Chief Apricot". I enjoy that it makes people smile - and many people do ask me to explain what it means. It actually means many different things – I have a number of different hats I have to wear here at Wild Apricot, including:   

  • Product Manager hat
  • Customer Service Champion hat
  • President/Leader hat
  • Marketing hat
  • Office administration hat
  • CFO/Accounting hat
  • and probably a whole bunch of other hats!

However, the hat I most enjoy wearing is the Product Manager one. What exactly does that include? Quite a few things:

  • Interacting with our clients about their feature suggestions (and gripes!) by participating in support tickets processing, getting feedback from our customer service team, through discussion forums and biannual client surveys
  • Working with other departments to integrate their needs into product plans – things we might need to support our marketing efforts, ways to automate various billing interactions and accounting processes
  • Working with our team of analysts and designers to prioritize various features, analyze the underlying needs, and design the solutions
  • Working with our development team during the actual implementation of each feature in the product

During the past month, the two biggest areas of my Product management focus were:
  1. Upcoming redesign of Financial management functionality in Wild Apricot
  2. Review and revision of Wild Apricot roadmap
I talked about Financial management a fair bit in last month's post so I will just mention a few things:
  • Because this is a very substantial change in the system functionality, we will prepare and publish a Financial management transition guide well in advance of the new version. We will provide a conceptual overview of the new functionality and a comprehensive list of changes from the current version so that our clients can help us ensure we have not missed any important aspects. Stay tuned!
  • We are considering doing preview/beta testing of new Financial management functionality – in two ways. First, we want to bring together a number of clients based close by in Toronto to do demos and get feedback. Second, we will select a small group of clients to do hands-on review. We will be looking for people who are quite experienced with Wild Apricot and especially the financial management aspects. If you are interested in participating – please contact our tech support and let us know.
  • We are still firming up the dates for the next release but our current target is the end of July or very early August.
Sneak peek at Financial management screens:

 
I am really happy to see all the progress our team has been making in this area – we aim not just to add stuff to Wild Apricot to make it more powerful, but also to rationalize many current limitations to make Wild Apricot software easier to master and use at the same time!

(And I do know that even with our best efforts in development and testing the transition will inevitably cause some pain, but our support team will stand by to assist people with any unexpected issues.)

Now, about the product roadmap: Around the end of 2009, we did a lot thinking about our product development plans for 2010. We reviewed many hundreds of items and selected the top 50 items for our 2010 roadmap (read more here). And then life happened.

So we have conducted a regular quarterly review of the roadmap, taking into account things like:

  • What we have already released in version 3.4
  • Work in progress in version 3.5
  • Timelines of several most recent releases
  • New feedback collected from our clients through discussion forums, in the bi-annual survey back in January-February, and through our support team interactions

We are now updating our roadmap discussion forum so that it reflects our current development plans to the end of March 2011.

Here's one of the key tools in my office I use for the roadmap work:

In a nutshell, our major thrust is still the same, with the primary focus on small associations and charities/non-profits in the US and Canada. Wild Apricot core functionality – membership management and contact database – will still get the most attention and priority, with event registration and website management following close after that (which does mean slower progress on some other modules – e.g. blog and discussion forums). Our ambitions to provide robust built-in social networking functionality will have to stay on hold.

Please do keep your suggestions coming through our roadmap and wishlist forums to help us shape the best course for Wild Apricot software! It is especially important now as we start picking the top candidates for the next release 3.6. (By the way, one of the big items coming up soon is an online store  – our analysts and designers are working on it at full speed already  – so expect to see regular updates on the forum and we would highly appreciate your ongoing input.)

I also want to mention that we have just added two more people to our development team and will be soon going through the process of helping them to figure out what kind of Apricots they are, so that they can pick their Apricot nicknames. On a serious note, I am excited about having more development muscle so that we can speed up our never-ending process of enhancing and improving Wild Apricot software!

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Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Thursday, 06 May 2010 at 1:43 PM

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