Every two weeks, we send an email with improvements and new features in Tracks to our mailing list. When we can, we write about the updates on our blog.
To reach a decision to build a new feature or make an improvement, we are normally guided by requests or feedback we receive from customers. Normally, if we receive a lot of requests for a feature or improvement then we will add it.
As part of the decision process, we rule out a lot of features and improvements too.
The reasons for not building a feature or making an improvement vary from it’s not possible to build that to it’s possible but it’s not something we think will add value to the customer base.
Deciding not to go ahead with an update always comes after a couple of days research into the practicalities of building the feature, the time spend building versus our perceived immediate value for the current customers and the long term value of building it for new and existing customers.
An example of improvements include the recent changes to the export functionality, which was widely requested and something that we knew would add instant value, and didn’t take that long.
Another example is integrating with Highrise Custom Fields earlier this year. The integration was a major change that took a lot of work but had a lot of longer term (new and existing customer) value, as well as immediate value.
The reasons for not building a feature or making an improvement vary
Most of the blog posts we write cover the updates we’ve made. But we rarely write about why we are not making a change. So I thought I’d write about why we are not building Custom Text Fields into Tracks – the most recent feature that we’ve researched.
Custom Text Fields
Custom Fields in Highrise allow Highrise customers to add extra data against deals from sales stages to the invoice number. With the likes of sales stages, we have built an integration that allows you to set these stages up and then view your deals in the pipeline across the sales funnel.
All Custom Fields created in Tracks and that integrate with Highrise are added as pipeline views automatically and are based on what Highrise calls Pre-defined Values (i.e. the stages in your sales funnel).
However, since Custom Fields launched we’ve received many requests to integrate with Custom Fields that are used as text fields only, like the invoice number of a deal or the length of a contract.
Clearly with the likes of invoice number, which is not a Pre-defined Value, a pipeline view is not required. As a pipeline view is not required and since there are no other features in Tracks related to Custom Text Fields, the integration would just be based on assigning the data against the deal.
There is little value in that (because the data already exists in Highrise), and since we’ve always been focused on only pulling in the data we need from Highrise for the features in Tracks it makes integration with Custom Text Fields unlikely.
But to be more specific…
The main reason for not building Custom Text Fields is that we have no plans or vision to do anything with them. It’s not something we think we would add to or develop further. In fact, by adding it we would be adding workload and maintenance without adding much value to customers. In turn, that takes us away from other value adding work.
But customers have asked for it, I hear you say? Yes true, but there is another reason…
Key to the success of Custom Text Fields (if we did add it) is the ability to export the data i.e. the invoice number. You can export a lot of deal information from Tracks already, so Custom Text Fields would be another data point that you could export. There is value in that, of course.
However, Highrise have said they are considering a CSV export for deals. Whilst this then might make our export redundant, and it may take Highrise a while before they do add a CSV export, it will mean that Custom Text Fields will be exportable. Just not from Tracks.
@lhausermann Not at the moment. We’re considering support to export deals in CSV format in the future, would that help here?
— Highrise (@highrise) September 1, 2016
We never say never to a feature or improvement. What we are saying is not now with Custom Text Fields. It’s just not part of a bigger area of development for us, but with any luck those that want to export Custom Text Fields will be able to if Highrise release a CSV export.
I hope that helps understand our position.
Thanks for reading.
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