At a fundamental level, Amazon focused on the processes required to provide products and services. AgileAssets has followed the same thinking and applied it to developing transportation asset software.
When I was in college, I worked in the customer service department of a catalog business and would take phone and fax orders for consumer products, like paper planners, binders, and pens. The minimum price for shipping was $7, and that still took about a week for delivery. We rarely heard complaints about this process because it was the industry standard at the time.
Now, look at Amazon and their Prime program. You order something, and you can get it the same day, or in two days at the latest, and you pay only $99 a year for unlimited shipping – oh, and you get storage, music, videos, and more in that price too. How does Amazon make it work?
One of the first things AgileAssets focused on is continually improving our software development process. We have broken the work down into smaller, consistent pieces and increased the testing – both manual and automated – at all levels of the software development and deployment. For example, we now build an environment for every single client every day using the latest software. While we don’t have test coverage for all the customizations that exist, we have the ability to identify changes that have a negative impact and fix them long before we get to a deployment at a customer site. Are we perfect yet? No – and we will always be working to do better.
Initially, Amazon Prime only offered free standard shipping, then they upgraded to free 2-day shipping, and now you can get free same-day shipping on many items. Similarly, AgileAssets, over the last few years, has focused on speeding up the cadence for delivering features and fixes. Prior to the 7.1 version, our release cadence was unpredictable and often driven by client projects. After 7.0 we started delivering service packs every six months, then with 7.1 we switched to quarterly service packs, and now with v7.2 we are releasing updates every 7 weeks that include fixes – along with new features for web and mobile solutions. By breaking updates into smaller pieces, it is much easier to install them, and recent customer feedback has reinforced the fact that it makes them much simpler and easier to test and roll-out.
Another thing Amazon has done is packaged their service – Amazon Prime – as a subscription. This makes it possible for you to buy many services at one bundled price. AgileAssets has recently introduced an option for acquiring our software and services, that allows an agency to subscribe to the software – upgrades, maintenance, and support included. This way you are always on the latest version. This makes it easier from a planning and procurement perspective and makes sure an agency always has the most recent, most advanced, and most valuable software. We have a handful of customers that are using this service now, and we hope to help others transition.
We are learning from industry leaders how to continuously improve, deliver better products faster, and create easy to use subscriptions. I made the commitment at our International Users Conference last year that I want to make upgrades a non-event… and we have made a lot of progress towards that goal. We want you to take advantage of that and be able to use the latest version of the software you have invested in, without the challenges that have existed in the past.