Client-Driven Development and 3 New accesso Siriusware Features
As a member of the QA team at , I spend most of my time testing enhancements and fixes that are requested or suggested by our clients for our accesso Siriusware . It‘s rewarding to help our clients with these specific requests, and often, the resulting improvement is something that all clients can utilize. Here’s a glimpse into client-driven development and three recent features that have come about as a result of requests from our customers.
What does Client-Driven Development look like?
Companies with a client-driven development philosophy are committed to their software never being frozen in time. While we do a lot of research and development behind the scenes based on where our industry is headed, we want our clients to feel empowered to submit requests to us no matter how large or small. Before joining the accesso team, I worked at a where I trained call center staff on the solution. Each year, the Director of IT would solicit requests from our team for changes, enhancements, improvements, or fixes to our sales software. We used two different applications, and it was my understanding that we budgeted a certain amount for requests each year and also had a limited number of get-out-of-jail-free-card type requests that could be submitted without an associated cost. I would poll my team and see what “pie-in-the-sky” enhancements we could come up with, knowing that perhaps we’d be requesting something that wasn’t necessarily within the standard scope of the interfaces, but thinking that with some crazy customizations, we could better serve our customers. Some of the requests were squashed and some were championed. I specifically recall a request that an error message should present if the operator inadvertently scheduled an activity in the scheduler on a date that didn’t match the actual item date. When the change came back from development, it ended up truly improving our ability to provide better customer service, since these potential errors were caught before they even had a chance to be made. For us, it was money well spent for sure.
Now that I’m on the other end of enhancement requests, it’s interesting to see what various clients are looking for with regard to improvements to the software. I have had a few real “aha!” moments where I thought – “jeez, why didn’t I think of that?” It’s also been eye-opening learning and participating in the process. While I’m not in the steering sessions where new development items are prioritized, I know that a lot goes into gauging the feasibility and prioritizing the importance of specific items for each of our development sprints. After a first round, we have design meetings where management, R&D, development and QA team members work with each other to ensure buy-in and comprehension by all involved. Work items are then scheduled and assigned for development. Completed work is code reviewed and tested, and if all is well, the work is documented and posted to the portal for clients to begin using. This timeline is of course somewhat simplified, as much of the work requires development across numerous pieces of the software that are frequently divided into smaller chunks that can be completed in the appropriate sprint cycle with a challenging matrix of dependencies, but for the most part this is our process!
A few items I have tested lately that came about because clients requested or suggested enhancements include timed ticketing, group inquiry forms and a better online photo upload tool. As a one-time user of our solution, I can understand and appreciate where the customers were coming from in each of these important enhancement requests.
1. Timed Ticketing
Throughout the last several years, the need for relatively complex timed – including packages with multiple timed events – has been on the rise. Our solution has always been to configure an item (or category) for every entrance time and then control it with Max4Sale/Points4Sale. While this method works, it can lead to a lot of overhead with many items, many Max4Sale restrictions, tedious package configuration, and complex and often sub-optimal item menu configuration (for both sales and eCommerce).
The basic idea for our timed ticketing enhancement is that instead of creating an Item (or Category) for each entry time, we can now create a single Item (or Category) and set a Start and End Time within the Max4Sale/Points4Sale configuration. This allows our clients (and implementation staff) to significantly streamline the items that have timed admissions and capacity controls by simply creating the base items and using max4sale/points4sale to drive the session times. Packages become super simple. You just package the single items together and let the system prompt for a session time selection – with checks to prevent selecting session times that may conflict with one another inside of a given package.
Fewer clicks and less effort required to get items set up and selling? Sounds like a win-win! While improvements to the UI for system administrators are always top-of-mind, getting feedback on how clients would like to see those improvements rolled out can really streamline the process while pushing planned development forward.
2. Online Group Inquiry Form
Similarly, our group inquiry form was created based on a specific request from one client, and then subsequent requests from other clients for a solution that could be used to generate leads and gather information online without processing a credit card. While the concept seems rather simple, there was quite a bit of new logic that had to be built into the pages, as well as getting our existing survey functionality to display in the eCommerce pages. We also added a feature that sends an email to both the customer and the client as inquiries are completed, which was another challenge we had to overcome.
Now that this feature is available, it is working beautifully to allow leads to be seamlessly generated and flow through the Web Sales Host and into Sales, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive!
Here are the customer impact notes from the new module:
A new, licensed product has been created which is called the Online Group Inquiry Form. Clients can direct their customers to a dedicated URL where information can be gathered and submitted without processing an actual sale. This is ideal for groups and other bulk purchases that can be processed online where a lead needs to be generated rather than an actual purchase being made. The group contact information is collected and processed through the web sales host and back into our accesso Siriusware solution and attached to a reservation header. Additionally, existing survey functionality has been improved upon to allow detailed questionnaires to be included in the Form and efficiently displayed in Sales. Email confirmations can be sent to both the customer and the internal point-of-contact. Once this occurs, a booking agent can access the group record via Sales and contact the customer to work out the details of the actual booking. This will speed up the process of lead generation and automate much of what has been done manually in the past.
We had a big work-around in place at my client-site to handle inquiries of this sort and it certainly required extra effort. In hindsight, this solution was exactly what we needed to gather more and better leads, and now it’s out there.
3. Online Photo Upload Tool Enhancements
Finally, I’ve recently worked on testing our improved online photo upload tool as clients were looking for something more modern and mobile-friendly. Developing solutions for Android and iOS can be a real can of worms. Frequent updates and changes can leave what were once responsive design elements downright unresponsive – literally. But not working with mobile when so much of consumerism is heading that way isn’t an option. So now we have this:
Enhancements have been made to the eCommerce pass photo upload interface. If the key GetPassPhoto in the SiteConfig.config is set to 1, then the GuestSelected.aspx will have an Upload Photo button that when clicked will direct the guest to the GuestPhotoUploadAng.aspx. The new photo upload tool allows photo file uploading or use of a camera to capture and subsequently crop an image that will be attached to the guest profile and can be used for passes and tickets. Custom text can be added to the interface to instruct guests in how to capture acceptable images. The GuestPhotoUploadAng.aspx is fully functional with current mobile operating systems and features responsive design elements.
Users can upload, resize, crop, rotate, and delete photos from their computer, webcam, or phone. Again, the clients asked, and we delivered.
I’m not sure what the next big thing on the horizon will be as far as requested enhancements go, but I’m confident that the design and development teams are keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground. Whether it’s a paid enhancement, general improvement, new module, or a bug fix, we at accesso want to keep our clients happy by enabling them to keep their customers happy and provide solid service while using our solution. Because, after all, customer satisfaction is at the core of our business.
To get the ball rolling on your next enhancement request or learn more about what our accesso solutions can do for your venue,.
Jef Rahmeyer — QA Tester, accesso Siriusware
Jef lives in the mountains of California with his wife and daughter. He joined the accesso team in 2015 after almost a decade working in the ski industry. He is now a member of the quality assurance and testing team for the accesso Siriusware solution. When he’s not poking holes in the software, Jef likes fishing, skiing, surfing, traveling, and pretty much anything else that involves the outdoors.