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How We Handle Feature Requests

Harvest is nearly 5 years old and serving thousands of customers from over 100 countries. It’s great to be in this position, but with a large user base comes the responsibility of receiving many feature requests. Requests flow in via email, support requests, blog comments, Twitter, and often on our forum. How do we handle such a high volume of requests?

Two Buckets

We categorize requests into two buckets:

  1. Things we plan to work on.
  2. Things we don’t – requests we don’t hear of often, or suggestions that don’t fit our vision.

Feature requests that fall in the first bucket are tricky. We genuinely want to work on a lot of these features, but if something is not in our immediate plan, the best we can tell you is that “it’s on our list.”  Whether it’s through email or the forum, we can only say that so many times before we start to sound insincere.

Whatever the case, we ask each prospective customer to make their purchase decision based on what is available in Harvest today. We are constantly improving Harvest, but we simply cannot promise a timeline for new features. We do not make false promises.

What Are We Working On?

Frankly, I feel like an ass whenever I have to say “it’s on our list” to a customer. So what should we do? One thing we’d like to try is to make our first bucket public. Here’s a list of the 4 big things coming to Harvest in the upcoming months:

  • Reports 2.0 – we’ve done an extensive survey with our customers, and we’re overhauling our reports section based on the feedback. We’re breaking this down to many releases, and the first one will be public by March 8th.
  • The ability to change the start of the week on a timesheet.
  • Better control of user permissions.
  • Invoice customization.

These are, by far, the most highly demanded features from our customers, and we want to get them done.

Kaizen & The Team

Another thing we’d like to make known is that the “list” we refer to is real:

We built our own custom project management application called Kaizen, in which we record every single suggestion that comes in. We save your email address to the request – and once it’s ready, we email you. To the astute observer, you can see that some of the most popular requests are not shown in the screenshot. These requests have already been turned into actual projects.

Oh, and by “we,” I mean every member of the Harvest team. Christopher takes care of the bulk of the incoming tickets, but we all answer support emails and questions on the forum. Your requests are answered and handled by the same people who design and build the application.

Fast & Agile

Today, Harvest has a total of 13 people (we hope to grow that to 18 before Summer). Danny and I cannot be more proud of our small, but nimble, agile and extremely capable team. We execute much faster than traditional desktop applications – have you tried asking QuickBooks or Photoshop for a new feature or to fix a bug? We also release features and updates much more often than our peers – we average about at least one big feature per month, with many smaller updates and improvements deployed throughout the week. What we can do better is to make these updates known to our customers. But really, would you rather we spend our time improving the product, or devote our energy to writing blogs and books?

On that note, I’ll end this blog post and get back to work.

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This was posted in Behind-the-Scenes, New Features, Project Management.
  • Well done Harvesters. I’m impressed with the regularity of your posts here, and super excited about what you’re doing with featured requests. Now if I can just get you to give me a tour of Kaizen! :P

  • Nice post! Yes, please keep us updated on your roadmap (in addition to working on features). Honestly, it will help the community provide more constructive feedback relative to what you’re working on at any given time.

    One feature suggestion for your internal Kaizen app: (If you don’t already) Weigh each feature requests by the requester’s Harvest subscription size (number of paid users), in addition to looking at a non-weighted value. This will give you an idea on the actual business impact on your users. Of course, my suggestion is biased and I think my votes should count more :p

  • I love the note about writing books! I’m waiting for Highrise features since months ;-)

  • Hey, Shawn… Thanks so much for the transparency on this! Makes a huge difference to have some idea of priorities and a general feel for the timeline. There may not be a lot of comments on this post, but I know a lot of users appreciate it.

  • feature request: for recurring invoice: a way to mention automatically the period the invoice is for. For example I send recurring invoice every month and I want ot mention the month on the invoice.

  • Karen Schoellkopf on November 30, 2011

    Got it @Jorg, we’ll make a note of it, and for future feature requests, send them to support AT harvestapp DOT com so we can actually ask you questions about the request (if needed) – thanks!

  • Here is a request I dropped into the recent Invoice PDF blog post but figured I would drop it in here as well:

    I still want to know when Harvest is going to fix the default values for time entry. Why do you not set the default values for website interface and widget to:

    – Select Project
    – Select Task

    Currently it just defaults to the first project and first task (widget) or the value of the last time entry (web interface). That makes no sense. Please fix this. Your support crew said it would fix this about 2 years ago. Your iPhone App folks have figured this one out.

    While I am on a rant, how about upgrading the workflow for user management.

    Example) I want to remove someone from a few select projects. I need to jump into every single project to edit that person’s association with projects. Just copy what Basecamp does. While in a user profile you can simply add a check bix next to each project and give admin the option to: check all, uncheck all, or check / uncheck any project.

    Come on guys!!!!! This is basic stuff.

  • Karen Schoellkopf on November 30, 2011

    @scott The best way to get your feature request heard is to email us at support AT harvestapp DOT com, so our team can ask you questions about your requests, and make sure they have all the details correctly. We’re here, we’re listening, and we appreciate the nudge.

  • Thanks Karen. Just emailed them!

  • Any plans to offer Kaizen as a product guys?

    – Paul.

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