Q1 2020 Announcements
Introducing the Product team
I’m Mike and I’ve been leading the Product Team at HomeGauge since June 2019. This is the first in a series of regular quarterly updates I’ll be posting in order to help keep our customers in touch with the work we are doing.
As Paul mentioned in his last Letter From the GM, we have been investing heavily in our core products as well as new innovations we know you’ll be excited about. I echo Paul’s comment that we haven’t always had the processes in place before to accurately forecast product updates, but changes made throughout 2019 improved that, and we made significant progress on the product in the second half of 2019.
In 2019 not only did we make changes to the product team, but we also increased the size of our engineering team to accelerate product development. The product team is based in our home office in Asheville N.C, and in Chicago.
You might ask, well what is a “product team”?
The product team sets the overall direction for our products, sets requirements, prioritizes initiatives, always working very closely with our team of talented engineers. You may have seen us at conferences asking questions about how you use our software and how it could be made even better. You may have spoken with us on the phone as we gathered your thoughts on the key pain points you’re experiencing. Or you may have let us ride along with you on an inspection so that we can better understand how you use our tools. We do this to identify software improvements that will save you valuable time on the job and help improve the quality of the services you are able to provide your customer, the home Buyer, and your key partner, the real estate agent.
We take all this information and work closely with the engineering team to ensure HomeGauge is building the right things in the right way. We also manage the pipeline of projects and the allocation of resources.
We will continue to leverage the expertise of our teams and our customers as we build the next generation of report writers, and the latest in web and mobile technology. Our mission is to not only provide you with the most comprehensive solutions on the market, but also to save you time when you’re creating and distributing your reports so that you can focus on growing and marketing your business.
I want to dispel some rumors about where our focus is. HomeGauge is a home inspection software company first and foremost. We prioritize work on the core products and on requested features. The time invested in some of the newly introduced capabilities (such as Extra Care) has been comparatively minimal, as can be seen in the resource allocation chart below. Building the capabilities of Extra Care is relatively straightforward from an engineering perspective, meaning that we have made good progress with a small amount of effort, whereas our home inspection software is significantly more capable (and therefore more complex from an engineering perspective), requiring much more time to update.
Quarterly Product Update
Looking back at Q4 2019, our expanded engineering team developed fixes for many high priority bugs, and rolled out software improvements, including:
- Companion App release on android addressed long-standing issues, including fixes for a possible application crash when opening other applications, and improved memory management (which might not mean much on the surface, but it leads to better performance for you).
- Rolled out fully-licenced NPMA-33 forms
- Home Buyer Dashboard rollout brought optimizations for Buyers accessing it on a mobile device (currently 53% of all report views). It also made Inspector branding and property photos more prominent, and makes CRL more accessible to Buyers and agents.
- Launched 2 closed beta programs – one for the new web-based report writer, and the other for our new scheduling functionality. (Details are below on how to learn more about our beta programs and how to apply).
- A total of 277 bugs were addressed in 2019, out of which 100 were dealt with in Q4.
- Improved load time of ‘My Reports’ page for Inspectors and REPs by 40%.
The total engineering time allocation was as follows:
Some of the most requested bug fixes completed include:
(This is not an exhaustive list)
- INSPECTOR DASHBOARD: Removed the customer system-generated password from the Inspector view when creating a contact
- INSPECTOR DASHBOARD: Improved site performance on Inspector dashboard for large volume multi-Inspector teams
- INSPECTOR DASHBOARD: Resolved an issue where Buyers/realtors were able to create CRL in some instances where CRL was disabled
- DESKTOP WRITER: Resolved issue where data folder could not be found
- ANDROID COMPANION: Addressed top reliability issues as reported by support team
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Resolved issue where reports could not be forwarded
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Improved payment experience by preventing double click on payment button (previously caused an error message to be displayed)
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Numerous updates to support changes introduced in iOS12 and 13
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Improved CRL experience to only display the link for appropriate documents, even if the Inspector incorrectly lists the document type
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Resolved issue where full screen video wasn’t available in report
- BUYER DASHBOARD: Resolved issue where users were unable to review Inspectors
Reviewing Our Roadmap
A roadmap is how we prioritize and schedule the engineering resources we have. Any time something new comes up, we come back to the roadmap to understand what impact that would have and then make the best decision.
A roadmap is always an approximation. We typically expect that the items included in a current quarter, and then the following quarter, can be mostly relied upon to meet a set release date.
A roadmap becomes more of an estimate the further out we look. And of course, engineers do sometimes start working on a project only to find that it is easier or harder than they expected, and we adjust the roadmap accordingly..
Q1 2020 Major Roadmap Items:
(This is not an exhaustive list)
- Revamped scheduling functionality for single Inspectors – ON TRACK
- Desktop update #1 addressing the top 5 support requests – COMPLETE
- Desktop update #2 focusing on reliability and bug fixes – ON TRACK
- Companion update for iOS, addressing data loss issues – ON TRACK
- Expanding Beta Programs for Web Writer and our scheduling tools – ON TRACK
- Urgent update made to Buyer Contacts functionality – COMPLETE
Q2 / Q3 / Q4 2020 Major Roadmap Items:
(This is not an exhaustive list)
A roadmap will evolve for future quarters dependent on what our customers need, but as of the time of writing the following are scheduled as major items (not necessarily in release order).
- Revamping how contacts work
- Launch scheduler functionality for multi-Inspector teams
- First public release of our Web-Based Report Writer
- Milestone release of the desktop writer, focused on reliability and highly requested features
- Adding call center support
- Reimagined mobile app for the new web writer
- Requested features for enterprise customers
- Extra Care value-added services (beta tests)
Partnering with the HomeGauge Product Team
One way HomeGauge collects information and input from our customers is with beta programs. We tend to have several running in order to provide live feedback. We’re always looking for participants, and if that interests you, you can apply to the program here.
If you have a general comment or concern regarding our products, you can provide feedback directly to the product team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to the volume of feedback, we cannot respond to every message and do not provide support via this channel, but we can assure you that every request is read and taken into account when planning anything new we develop.
Meet The Product Team Q1
The team and I have been attending industry events, and we will do so during the coming year as well. We were at FABI in January and ASHI in 2019. Our next event will be the upcoming training in Asheville during the week of February 10th.
Vice President of Product Development, HomeGauge