In 2016 we added 582 new features into Regpack. I know it is less than the 673 features we added in 2015… Are we slacking off and not working since we are bigger now? Actually the opposite!
At Regpack we have a motto that repeats itself all the time: “Getting Better!”
This is something that I personally believe in. Also as a CEO, I think this mindset creates the right atmosphere for any company. What does it mean when I constantly say we are “getting better”?
- It says we do not suck, since we just need to get “better”.
- We know that we will never be good enough. It is a constant process where we need to see where we can get better all the time.
- It says there is always room for improvement. We always need to question our assumptions and get out of our comfort zone.
- It means that anything we do, we can do better, regardless of if we are the leader in our field.
This is what we focused on as a development organization this year, on “getting better!” This included killing more than 3,476 bugs. Just FYI Linux, the system that powers the internet has more than 100K bugs so even though having 3,476 bugs might sound a lot but actually it is not. It also included updating 36 modules and frameworks that help power Regpack and building 582 new features.
These updates, features and solutions can be broadly put into the categories below. Obviously there where a lot of other sections we worked on such as fixing any “why did you let me do that?” issues. These are issues that come up when the system does not notify or prevent you from doing something that might have big implications. We also worked a lot on usability and making the system as intuitive as possible. It is very easy to balance the need for a lot of power and customization and at the same time for it to be KISS – “keep it simple stupid”. Finally we worked on more and more automation and speed optimizations. But these are all boring and minor compared to the 4 below!
Making payments and autobilling totally seamless.
One of our most popular features is our autobilling functionality. The autobilling feature allows organizations using Regpack to create personalized billing plans for their attendees, campers, students and clients. Checkout the video below or if you are someone that prefers to read you can find all about our autobilling in this post.
Autobilling is a great feature that is used by more than 70% of the organizations using Regpack. Because so many are using it, it made sense to “get better” in this area in 2016. We focused a lot of energy on adding new autobilling features and improving the functionality to make it even more seamless!
Like all features we add in Regpack, what we decide to build comes first from client demand. We don’t believe in building things just because they are cool (as most Silicon Valley companies think). In that sense Regpack is more like Amazon and less like Google – we want to solve client problems and not engineering challenges. We believe that building something people actually use and that solve their real life challenges is as cool as it gets.
A lot of our clients wanted autobilling to do something that sounds a little crazy at first. They wanted to allow someone to be on multiple autobilling plans (for example: one plan for session A and another plan for session C). Then they wanted the system to create a single plan for them that they can see the exact payments they will be paying and when.
This might sound simple but from a programming perspective, it is really complicated since there are so many factors to take into account. Add to that that payments is a “zero tolerance for mistake” field and you can understand why this is complex. The system needs to calculate all possibilities and then bring forth the structure that makes the most sense for that specific client.
All that in less than a second, actually a second would be too long for that! Well… “getting better” is doing just that! In order to make this actually work seamlessly we had 2 developers work on the autobilling feature year round. They generated more than 76 features to allow the above. Not only is this great for Regpack – we can market this feature as being even more awesome than it already is. But it’s great for our clients too! They now have even more power when it comes to payments and get even more bang for their buck by using Regpack.
Another option that was added into autobilling (that is also connected to the solution described above) is the ability for autobilling to be for sections of the order and other parts will not be included. Let me give you a scenario: a course student registers for 6 weeks of courses. You want to charge them automatically a week before each course starts but you want to charge them right away if they are ordering books or maybe a private lesson with one of the teachers. What needs to happen here is that the system should automatically put them on the right payment plan for the courses they selected. But at the same time, charge them right away for the books or other products outside the scope of the payment plan.
This scenario also applies to camps, events or basically any situation you are offering something that is spread out through time and at the same time offering something you actually give the client right away. Add to this need that they can be on multiple autobilling plans based on their orders and you see how complicated this can get.
But our clients don’t really care about that. They need a solution that will cater to this need and cash flow structure they have in place. Since we are all about “getting better” we managed to do it! In spite of the fact that it took a lot of sleepless nights trying to solve really complex programming puzzles, but it was fun, I swear!. Like I always say “it is about the solutions, not the features”. Here too, one solution demanded we develop 58 new features, but no one really cares about that, you care only that is “just works” 🙂
Some other new things for 2016 included setting unlimited autobilling plans so you can offer a wide range of plans to clients. Our clients using autobilling in 2016 saw a:
- 35% increase in completed payments.
- 25% improvement in cash flow.
Making the admin know what is going on all the time with reactionary messaging.
We learned a long time ago that each organization is different. We understood that since the organization is different most likely the client base is different. But I think we did not fully comprehend this and how different client bases can be until this year. I guess it is because the crazy amount of registrations we took this year [over 5 million to be exact] and that the better you get the more people demand of you. Yeah, I know, it is sort of an oxymoron.
As we started to learn the differences between the client bases we also understood that thinking “a camp is a camp is a camp” just doesn’t cut it. The same for events, schools, courses, non profits etc… For one camp it makes sense to allow the family to pay for all the children at once. Whereas for another, the parents want to pay for each individually. For one camp they want to make sure the applicants go through the process of adding all the children first and then adding the sessions for each all together and for another it is different. Furthermore, the results for one camp doing what another does are not the same. This is correct also for events, courses and so forth.
Some of these changes included simple things like controlling the visibility of the progress bar, editing landing pages, editing text for the login and register buttons, uploading logos, etc. And some of them included major edits like how payments are made, when forms are considered complete and what flow the system defaults to.
We learned that “getting better” is also letting go!
So we gave the power to do all these changes and updates to the admins themselves. That way they can play around with their registration process and see what works best for them. In order to do so we built more admin tools, configuration options and presentation features and abilities. All this so admins can customize their registration without having to come to us. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to help. But many admins wanted the ability to make some changes (even very advance ones) and customizations themselves, and we listened!
Products, services and everything in between!
I have said this more times than I can count. Actually I can count since it is just a web search away . “Your registration system is your onboarding process and is essentially your store front”. This means that a good online registration system is just out of the way. But in addition to that, it should allow your applicants to select the services you offer in the most seamless way possible.
Sounds obvious, right? So let’s look at a few scenarios. A lot of organizations allow you to order specific services based on your age, grades, and location. The famous Regpack conditional logic engine took care of all that. Easy! But what happens if you want to allow people to order specific options or add-ons only if they order another product? This means you basically want to extend the conditional logic engine into products and have it happen instantly when the product is selected. You asked, we delivered!
As people come in time and again into your “store front” (which is your online registration system) you want to allow them to see only their current order. But you want to control when the current order is complete and when it is not. Basically you want the system to understand when an order is a “past order” and then it is still an active order. You asked, we delivered! Regpack automatically archives orders according to rule sets you put in place. It knows when to activate the rules in a smart way based on the specific applicant’s situation.
There are a lot more abilities we added to how people can order things and how it is all taken care of. Overall we added more than 174 features into the services and orders mechanism in Regpack. Again, the number of features does not matter, what is important is the solutions we supplied.
Making payments automatic, easy, and secure!
Another awesome admin update we included this year is the ability to enable or disable payments in your system. You can also edit the payment description that shows up on an applicant’s credit card to lower confusion around payments.
We also focused on a better flow for group registration. Now users can automatically move between applicants and pay more quickly for a group. These updates make the admin’s life easier when it comes to group registration. More completed applications and on time payments!
Some other awesome feature additions include:
- Charging clients that call in easily.
- The ability to select from a number of payment processors.
- Group pay and individual pay.
- Allocating payments to previous orders automatically to allow users to focus on current orders.
- Auto archiving of payments and products.
- More control in project setting.
- Introduction of template users for events based registration. This allows the applicant experience to be tailored based on what URL/webpage they are registering from. The correct forms, products, time units and more will be displayed to the applicant. In essence it allows you to use one Regpack system for all your various applicant types and they will all be managed in one back end for your reporting needs.
2016 for Regpack was really all about making life for our admins easier and making registration more seamless for users. Here is an example that happened not long ago and I think is very telling. In November of 2016, we made a small update for admins on finding excluded users. Basically if an admin does an initial filtering for users, it will check for archived users as well. Then it will present a message if that filter applies to archived users. The system will then give an option to click and view those users in your results.
This update was an idea that came out of a small chat I had with a Regpack account manager about a client having an issue not finding archived users in their filtering searches. After 5 minutes of plotting out how we could easily make that seamless, and about 90 minutes of coding, we had a solution! Not only does the update give one more productive functionality, it lowers our own support cases of other clients having this issue.
I wrote an email to the whole company about this case. I said “We can never just say ‘that is how it is’. This case is a great example of how we can do small things to get a lot better!” I truly believe this and this idea is at the core of everything we do at Regpack!
I am first and foremost a developer, that is my background and what my Ph.D. centered on. As a developer I know the mindset of developers. It is not always in sync with that of the other departments in the company. Luckily I am also the CEO so I can change that by taking to the dev team in their language. I believe today the dev team is totally in sync with the goal of getting better by solving real clients and real life problems, addressing client pain points, and making Regpack seamless, intuitive and easy to use for everyone. That includes us, our admins and their clients! Sometimes it only takes an hour or two to make a big difference. Sometimes it takes a month, either way the goal is the same – to get better!
Looking forward to a great 2017 full of hundreds more amazing feature updates!