A love letter from Keela's Product Manager, Laura Taves
You’re sitting at your desk, plugged into Keela, when BAM! inspiration strikes. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Keela could do this really neat thing? Your brilliant idea is not only going to revolutionize your own work, but is sure to help make every other Keela user’s life easier too.
You know that new ideas can be submitted online, and so follow the prompts and you end up in the Product Portal. You write up your summary of geniusness, press that submit button and whoosh, you’ve shared your idea with Keela.
At Keela, we proudly state that we’re built by the sector, for the sector. But hey, you’re the sector too. So why hasn’t your idea been built yet?
We’re here to give you a behind the scenes look at the many steps (and hours) that happen after you share your idea with us.
What is the Product Portal?
The Product Portal is the place where we store every idea for enhancements and new features to the system. This includes everything from End of Year Summaries (we heard you loud and clear) to niche email marketing enhancements (we’ve got those filed away for future consideration).
Keela’s product team uses this system to help keep everything organized. But beyond that, we use it to ensure all our customers are heard and that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
This is why it’s so important to log all your ideas straight to the portal - it’s your direct connection to the movers and shakers that build Keela. Though it may not be apparent, your ideas go straight into our workspace where we prioritize what is coming out next in the system.
… But Laura, you still didn’t answer my question. Why hasn’t my idea been built yet?
Let’s walk through this process in a bit more detail.
Submit an idea: It starts with your spark of genius, and either submitting your sector-changing idea, or up-voting a similar, pre-existing one. After it goes whoosh for you, your idea makes it to a dedicated inbox where the product manager (yours truly) reviews Every. Single. One.
Yes, every single idea gets looked at. Even the one where you asked us to send you cookies for your awesome ideas. Still baking those btw.
We’ve had over 3,500 fabulous ideas come through since January 2020! That’s a lot of cookies.
Check out our inbox where all your ideas land.
Review by the Product Manager: You’ve done the hard part by ideating something great. Thank you. Now it’s my turn to test it.
If it’s something that has come in before, we make sure they are all grouped together. If it’s new, we create a brand new tag to start storing similar requests going forward.
If we notice there’s a trend, say a bunch of you want to start sending virtual cupcakes to your donors, we can make that idea public in the Product Portal below the Under Consideration tab. Not all ideas are made public, but rest assured, they are safely stored in our workspace so our product team can continually review and carefully consider it for a future release.
“Why aren’t all ideas made public”, you ask? A lot of this has to do with...
Research and prioritization: We love each and every idea that comes in and we know they’re important to you. But just like you, we have limited resources, so we need to prioritize!
This is called Product Discovery, and there are a variety of different factors that come into play when we decide what to move forward with, such as:
- Common themes in the product portal
- Common themes in the support queue
- Trends in the nonprofit world
- What are our competitors doing
- And the big one: is this even technically possible?
The really cool thing about your idea is that it doesn’t just get considered once. If we decide not to move forward with it right now, we always keep the ideas alive in our workspace and are constantly re-evaluating them for if and when the time is right!
Planned: Coming Soon
Once the initial research is out of the way and if your idea is something we want to build, it gets moved from Under Consideration to the Planned tab under the Coming Soon category. Congratulations. Your idea is one step further in the pipeline.
Although we’re not going to start working on this tomorrow (sorry!), we are certainly interested in building it when time and resources allow.
Now is when the real research begins. The Product Manager will do a deep dive into your great idea to determine the nitty gritty details of what exactly we need to build when the team is ready to go!.
At this step in the process, we will revisit all the comments that came in from customers to get an idea of exactly what it is you need and how we can bring that to life in Keela.
Myself and everyone on the Keela team, whether they’re in Product, Customer Care, or Marketing absolutely love details. Keep this in mind the next time inspiration strikes. Don’t just include what you want us to build and why. We want to understand how you use Keela and how we can help you get more out of it.
The best ideas come from customers that give us that insight.
Alright, now we’re cooking with gas. If your idea finds itself in this stage, it means it’s ready to start being built. An asterix* here, this DOES NOT mean it IS being built. There’s an important distinction that I’ll explain below.
This is when we move your idea into the In-Development tab and share our excitement with everyone that voted that we are moving forward!
So what happens when we “develop” your idea? While only three points long, this stage can actually take months depending on the size and scope of the project.
- Design: First, our product designers Alex, Joanie, and Allan, get their hands on the idea and create mockups of how it will look in the system. They make sure the new feature is user-friendly and that it fits well with the rest of the system.
- Development - After some back and forth where the designers tell me I’m silly and of course the button can’t live there, the design is finalized and the developers finally get to build this into the system! They review the design requirements and build the code. This also involves a pretty hefty back and forth between myself, the development team, and the designer to get things just right.
- Reviews - Okay, the code is now built! It’s on the development site (our testing playground), and now we need to do all the checks and balances to ensure it will actually work as planned. Just like writers have editors, developers will thoroughly review each other's work, provide feedback and make any changes. At Keela, we have a rigorous review process so by the time your idea is slotted for the next release, it’s as clean and smooth as we can make it.
At any point in the building (or even the discovery process!), we can hit certain road blocks. This could be anything from: Where does this fit in with our current user interface and other tools? Does the integration partner allow this with their API? Is this still even technically feasible? Or after building the idea, it’s just not working as intended but upon testing.
This can push our expected timelines as we take a step back, get creative, and come up with the right solutions to ensure we are meeting customer needs in the best way possible. You know when you take on a new task and think it will take no time at all but then KAPOW! your small task actually requires a 4-year degree’s worth of time and education, $500 in software to get it off the ground, and a small army of support to make it possible? Yes, that happens to us too - no matter how dedicated we are to getting new ideas out as quickly as possible!
Quality takes time.
Now that all the research is complete, the design has been created, and the code has been built and reviewed, we deploy a dedicated QA team who complete final testing. This is our last chance to find any bugs and make tweaks to our creation before we push this live to the Keela system for you to enjoy. It’s been a minute, but we’re almost there!
Yippee! Your idea has gone through all the hoops to make it live in the system. It’s been touched and vetted by nearly every member of the Keela team to ensure we continue to provide the best technology solutions to nonprofits. For the sector, by the sector, remember?
But the work doesn’t stop! Building a product like Keela is a continuous cycle, and who knows better than yourselves the tools you need to thrive? If your idea hasn’t been chosen yet, don’t be discouraged. We are constantly reviewing, chatting internally, and prioritizing what comes next.
So please, keep sending in your ideas so we can continue to refine and build the best darn Fundraising CRM to empower nonprofits everywhere!