2016 has arrived! First off, I want to wish all of our customers a happy and Less Annoying New Year. Just like people set resolutions for themselves, it seems like a natural time for us to set a few New Year’s resolutions for LACRM. But first, let’s take a look at what we accomplished in 2015.
What happened in 2015?
We moved into our first real office
A year ago we were working out of T-Rex, a startup incubator in Downtown St. Louis. We loved it there, but it got a little bit cramped trying to squeeze as many people as possible into a tiny little office. So last spring we moved down the street into our very own office. Now we have plenty of room to grow!
New members of the team
We welcomed two new CRM Coaches to the team in 2015. Robert Landis and Eunice Koo both started in the summer and have been doing a great job helping our customers get the most out of LACRM. We also had an awesome batch of interns helping us out over the summer.
Growth from our current team members
Mitch Eagles started the year as a CRM Coach, but in the fall he decided to make the switch to software developer. If you notice more little improvements to LACRM than usual, you can thank Mitch for that. As he continues to grow as a developer, he’ll start tackling larger projects.
Emily Schwab added to her CRM Coaching responsibility by leading our recruiting efforts. It’s thanks to her that we can continue to add more great CRM Coaches to the team.
This just happened a few weeks ago so you might not even have noticed yet, but we just switched to a new server technology called HHVM. This makes certain parts of the CRM much faster. We also made a number of smaller tweaks to improve database performance.
While 2015 was a great year for us, I’m afraid that it’s not all good news. Our top development priority right now is to put out a new version of the calendar, and we were hoping to have it finished by the end of 2015. Unfortunately the developer leading that project left recently which means that project is going to be delayed. But not to worry, I’ll personally be taking over that project. It might be a bit delayed, but I’m confident it will be worth the wait (more on the calendar later in this post).
Our largest project is delayed, but that didn’t stop us from releasing tons of smaller improvements. There were too many to name them all in this post, but here are a few :
- The first stage of calendar improvements - The new calendar isn't ready yet, but we did release a major improvement to our old calendar earlier in 2015.
- Charging in British Pounds - Now you can pay $10 (USD) per month, or £7.50/month.
- Enhanced some advanced filtering options - We made some small improvements to how our report filtering works, including adding more birthday options.
- Improved exports - We added some extra fields to the export format to make it easier to run mail merges. We also added the ability to export your task report.
- New API function - We added the "UpdatePipeline" API function so that it's even easier to build integrations with LACRM.
We've had a blog since before we even had a product to sell, but we haven't always been good about updating it. Last summer we committed ourselves to posting regularly, and since then we've added a ton of great content to help small businesses succeed. As you you'll see below, we have plans to take the next step with our content in 2016.
Goals for 2016
Note: as you probably know, small businesses like us need to remain flexible and agile. This post outlines some things we hope to accomplish in 2016, but it’s very possible that our priorities will shift around during the year.
I already mentioned this above, but getting the new calendar finished will be our top priority in 2016. The new version will add recurring events, better Google Calendar syncing, color-coded events, a better UI, and much more.
Moving our software to React
Going forward, we’ll be building our software using a new framework called “React”. I won’t bore you with too many details, but React basically lets web apps work like traditional native (aka installed) apps. This means that new features written in React will be a bit faster and more responsive.
The calendar will be the first feature that uses React, but once we’re done with that, we hope to migrate most of the existing functionality over to React. In addition to making things a bit faster, this will also provide us with an opportunity to add minor improvements all over our software as we move things over.
This isn’t set in stone, but I expect the next major project after the calendar to be a re-write of how custom fields work. Once we’re done with this, you’ll be able to create different types of custom contact fields (dropdowns, dates, etc.), hide default fields, set different fields for contacts and companies, and have custom dates show up on the calendar.
More product improvements
It’s hard to know how quickly we’ll be able to finish the projects listed above, but if there’s still more time in 2016, we have a loooooong list of ideas for other improvements. This includes a redesign that will make the app work better on different sized screens, a much improved mobile experience, beefed up tasks and project management functionality, and much more. I can’t predict exactly how we’ll prioritize things or what we’ll be able to finish in 2016, but I can assure you that there’s no shortage of ideas or ambition when it comes to product improvement.
CRM Tips Newsletter
Our goal has always been to help small businesses succeed, and I’m happy to say that we just launched a new way to do that: the CRM Tips Newsletter. If you join the newsletter, we’ll send you emails about twice per month with great tips on how other small businesses are using LACRM effectively. We’ll be working hard in 2016 to put together great content to help you grow your business.
A bigger team
Julia Zasso was one of our interns last summer, and she’ll be joining us this summer as a CRM Coach. We’ll also have a new crop of interns working throughout the year. Which brings us too…
Continuing to offer the best customer service in the industry
Customer service sometimes gets left out of posts like this because there aren’t any flashy new announcements to make. But I want to include it here because even though it isn’t sexy, customer service is a top priority at LACRM, and it’s what the majority of our team spends their time on. I’m incredibly proud of how our CRM Coaches performed in 2015, and I’m confident it will get even better in 2016 and beyond.
Well, that about covers it. We’re really looking forward to the coming year, and I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of it. As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions (or if you just want to share your own New Year’s resolutions with us).