Even though Less Annoying CRM is over a decade old, our product team is still a relatively new addition. In the early days it was just my co-founder and me writing all the code. As the company grew, it became clear that we'd need help moving the product forward, but we had no experience hiring, mentoring, or delegating this type of work. To be honest, it's not something that we were immediately good at. Four years ago, the first member of our current product team joined, and we've been learning how to run a product team ever since.
In my opinion, 2019 was the year that it finally clicked. We now have six engineers, not counting me (4 software engineers and 2 devOps engineers) and a much more mature system for planning, project management, and deploying new features. As a result, we were able to make more product improvements in 2019 than the last several years combined.
Since there were so many improvements last year, I wanted to write this blog post to summarize everything in one place, just in case you missed anything. So here's the list of everything we improved in 2019:
This one was hard to miss. We released our first significant redesign since 2012. There are too many small improvements to list them all here, but just to name a few: We rethought the navigation, improved the layout of the settings section, made the calendar full-width, increased text size and contrast to make it easier to read, made the pipeline reports more intuitive, made it easier to access the search feature from every page, and added a new integrations page which shows you all of the integrations options in one place.
If you aren't on the new design yet, click here to upgrade. We'll start switching everyone over automatically soon, so I'd suggest doing it yourself so that you can control the timing.
The most important reason for the redesign was that it allowed us to make our main app work well on mobile devices. Gone are the days of a fully-featured desktop app and an extremely limited mobile app. Now you use the exact same app on all devices, and the interface automatically adjusts to fit the screen size. There are many things the old mobile app couldn't do that the new one can, but just to name a few: editing contacts, filtering reports, viewing the calendar, managing settings, and more!
Outlook calendar integration
We were releasing things around the end of 2019 that you might have missed this, but we finally added the ability to integrate with Outlook! This has been one of our most requested features for years and it feels great to finally have it finished. If you're on the new design, you can head over to the integrations page (it's in the settings section) to set up two-way syncing with Outlook calendar.
You remember how in the old version of LACRM you could create different field types (dropdowns, dates, etc.) in pipelines, but not on contact records? You remember how you had to have the same custom fields on both contact and company records? You know how you couldn't reorder default fields? Well good news, none of those things are true anymore! The new version of custom fields fixes all of those limitations and more.
Many of the things we work on aren't visible to customers, but they're important nonetheless. Our two devOps engineers are working hard every day on our infrastructure, performance, and security. We had less downtime in 2019 than any previous year since we started measuring it, and there have been a number of improvements to how we deploy code and diagnose server problems.
I can't count the number of times I've pulled up a contact in LACRM, then gone somewhere else in the app, and then I've needed to get back to that same contact. In the past, I'd have to do a new search every time, even if I'm checking the same handful of contacts over and over all day. We now have a recent contact list which will let you quickly jump to the records you've viewed most recently.
More export options
All the data you enter in your CRM is owned by you, not us. We've always aspired to make it as easy as possible for you to control that data, but our original export options only exported certain types of data. This year we added exports for all kinds of new things including notes, calendar events, and emails.
Other small improvements
We worked on a ton of other small projects during the year. It would be impractical to list them all here, but just to name a few: we improved the granularity of export permissions for different users on your account, improved bulk merging and the format of exporting for mail merges, and we gave our help site a makeover.
What's coming in 2020
Our product team has more momentum now than ever before, and we're excited to keep it rolling into 2020. We try not to make specific promises about timelines because the world of software development is unpredictable, but here are a few things we're hoping to work on in the coming year:
- Finishing touches on the new design
- More custom field improvements
- Task improvements
- Re-building our Mailchimp integration to work better with their new workflow
- Making lots of small improvements to existing features to make them even easier and more useful
Thank you so much for being a part of this! We have the most supportive customers in the world, and everyone at LACRM is motivated by that support. We feel great about the progress we made in 2019, and we're confident that 2020 will be even better. Happy new year!