Let us start by saying that we love receiving customer feedback and ideas for new features. This has always been and always will be a driving factor for the success of Cloud Retailer. Occasionally, we are able to put some of these requests into production quickly, while others may never make it there. While we strive to meet the needs and wants of our customers there are many factors that play into which features are adopted and when.
For each Feature or Change Request, we have to evaluate the full life-cycle of the change and consider multiple phases that we go through in order to develop the best possible product before it ever ends up in a user’s hands. Because of these factors NOT ALL REQUESTS WILL BE APPROVED.
You have two options for Step 1:
Option 1: Make a post in our Feature Request section of the helpdesk
We suggest you enter your request on the Feature Requests section of the helpdesk. This section allows other customers a chance to upvote feature requests they want as well, and gives us a way to measure interest in a feature. For some guidelines on the best way to log your feature request, please check out this sticky topic.
Option 2: Customer Input Survey
The first step of this process is to get your feedback. Your recommendations are how we identify the areas we can improve. We capture your feature requests through an online survey. The survey is seven questions long, is fairly quick and painless, and can be done by clicking here.
Whether you go with option 1 or option 2, this is the only step you need to complete. The next step is for your information only.
Development, Testing, and Implementation
At this point, IF the request is approved, it will be added to a future Cloud Retailer update. New features and requests will be given priority based on a few factors:
- Overall Impact- Will this benefit a few CR users, most users, or everyone?
- Time- How long will this take to develop?
- Resources- Do we need any additional resources to make this work?
- People- Is this something one person can create or do we need a team to create this?
Depending on the request, this step can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. Every request is different, but here is a general outline of what this step looks like:
Planning how / where the feature will fit into the overall system
Prototyping user interface design and workflows
Development of the actual feature or change
Peer review the code to ensure the implementation meets our standards
Running the new feature through automated integration testing (Cloud Retailer's "immune system").
Regression testing the new code (to ensure it doesn’t break something else)
Compile a release for the QA team to manually ensure the feature works as expected
Repeat steps 3-6 as needed
Create documentation on the changes
Training the technical team on the new feature
Prior to updating the client, the tech team clones their instance and tests all major features to ensure a smooth upgrade
The actual upgrade is coordinated with the customer and rolled out.
After time passes, we have to ensure that documentation, training materials stay up to date and that our staff continues to remain knowledgeable on the feature. The new feature interacts with other features of the system creating developmental complexity and maintenance to a degree. This means continual investment. Each new feature bears "tax" in these ways.
So, while features that we develop do add value to our product, you can see there is always more going on behind the scenes. As Newton said, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” One of the best things you can do to help us decide which features are the most important for our users is to submit your requests! Also, be sure to watch for new features as they are released by checking out the Release Notes Forum.
Having multiple customers request the same feature tells us that this is something people really want and can bring more immediate value for multiple users. On the flip-side, if there is only a single request for a more involved change, it may not make the cut or it may take some time to make its way in. In the end, we must always consider what is best for all users.
Another opportunity for our customers, if you feel your request may not be realized (or realized in a time-frame you desire), we do also entertain feature requests as custom development work. If that is of interest to you, please contact one of our sales reps today!