How we build Paperless Parts
In this article:
- Paperless Parts is a Cloud Platform
- Outbound Communication
- Submitting Product Feedback
- What happens to the feedback I submit?
- What if I encounter a bug?
- Discovery & Definition
On behalf of the R&D team at Paperless Parts, we’re excited to welcome you to our family of customers! There are a few things we want you to know as you start your journey with us.
Paperless Parts is a Cloud-Based Platform
Every customer's experience is powered by our one Paperless Parts cloud, which runs a single version of our software. This lets us easily keep our software and infrastructure up-to-date, secure, available, and performing properly. Each customer's data is logically separated from other customers, with strict access control ensuring only your team can see your data. Each user's account is protected with a strong password, optional two-factor authentication, and other controls such as lockouts and strong encryption.Centrally managed software like Paperless Parts has several big benefits over on-premise software:
- You are always running the newest version of our product and automatically receive any new features, security patches, or bug fixes
- We can make changes to our product much more quickly (our team deploys a new version of Paperless Parts at least once week)
- Paperless Parts takes responsibility for ensuring that the software remains available, secure, and stable
- You can access Paperless Parts from anywhere in the world where you have an internet connection, on any device
Because we run one copy of our product, we avoid deviations or customizations and instead are focused on building a flexible, configurable system that can be set up to best mirror your business processes. When considering areas of investment, we look for the greatest impact and added value across all of our customers.
We spend considerable time and effort engaging with our customer base to identify common problems and solutions that work across the board. When we do reach out to you (which we will, if you’re willing!) your input will directly influence our thinking about a given problem or solution we’re experimenting with.
Product Updates and Changes
While the product changes incrementally week over week, major releases (including new functionality, major UI updates, or back-end updates) will be proactively communicated with you. You can expect an email and an in-app notification at least a week before we issue a major change to the platform. As we grow, we’ll provide even more visibility to these changes.
Our updates are also available as part of our monthly newsletter (if you do not receive our monthly newsletter, please reach out to Support) and each release has release notes in the knowledge base.
Submitting Product Feedback
As you use our product, we’re sure you’ll encounter things you love and things you wish were better. Maybe you’re using our quoting platform and have an idea that would make your life easier, maybe you’ve encountered a bug or maybe you’ve got an idea for how we could help you elsewhere in your shop or make your job easier.
We absolutely want to hear this feedback from you!
The best way to report it is to talk to your Customer Implementation Manager, Customer Success Manager, or create a ticket with our amazing support team by clicking the question mark in the upper righthand corner of Paperless Parts.
These requests are fed directly to the product and engineering team where we use them as the basis for making decisions about where to invest our resources.
What happens to the feedback I submit?
Regardless of how you submit an enhancement request to the team, it ultimately gets routed to our Product Management team. This team is responsible for prioritizing various feature requests and new ideas from across our organization internally and from all of our existing customers. There are finite resources and time available for the team to spend thoughtfully addressing feedback and ideas which is why we want to to ensure that the items we work on are creating the biggest impact.
Why can’t every feature I suggest become part of the product?
Developing software is a time-consuming and expensive process. Let’s walk through what a typical feature looks like for us at Paperless Parts:
- Pattern Matching (2 hours): For each idea or feature, we have to spend time understanding if there have been any similar submissions or ideas in the past. This means consulting our database of customer feedback, talking amongst ourselves, and consulting with our peers in Customer Success and Support
- Design Solution (10 - 15 hours): Taking an idea and turning it into something we believe will be useful for you, viable for us to build, and easy to use is a challenge. It requires our product, design, and engineering teams to work closely together
- Validate Solution (10 - 20 hours): Getting mockups in front of customers, internal stakeholders, and our advisory board to ensure that what we’ve designed meets the needs of you and our other customers
- Build Solution (20 - 40 hours): Adding the functionality into the application often requires making database changes and adding new UI elements. We strive to ensure these work on all computers and operate bug-free
- Testing & QA (5 - 10 hours): We have dedicated testing engineers on our team who write automated tests for new functionality and test that the new functionality doesn’t break the old functionality. Additionally, most features are hand-tested by the team
- Release prep (5 hours): Writing / updating help documentation, creating internal enablement resources, and creating external communication to make sure our 120 employees + thousands of external users understand the feature
- Release to production (1 hour): Build and deploy the new code to production
In short, we put a lot of effort into everything we do. A relatively simple change to the platform can take 50 - 100 hours of total time to make sure we build the right thing, build it well, and release it in a non-disruptive way. With thousands of users, you can imagine all the great ideas we hear each week, which pushes us to deliver a more robust and useful platform but we cannot act on all of this feedback so we appreciate your understanding as we work through the task of prioritize the ones which will have the largest impact.
What if I encounter a bug?
Many bugs and issues can be resolved by refreshing your browser, which will cause your computer to fetch the latest version of our product from our servers. If you are encountering an issue, please first refresh your browser by holding down the control key (CRTL) and then pressing the F5 key or R key. This will trigger a ‘hard refresh’ which can often fix issues.
If problems persist, please reach out to your Customer Implementation Manager (CIM) if you’re still onboarding or directly to our Support team . They will make sure the issue is routed to engineering where we’ll look at the issue, assess its impact, and, depending on the severity either take action on it immediately or put it in a backlog for further evaluation in the future.
Severe bugs which inhibit your ability to work within the platform are addressed immediately.
Discovery & Definition
As a team, we try to have multiple customer conversations every week. Those conversations generally come in two flavors – discovery and definition.
One of the biggest contributions our Product team makes to Paperless Parts is helping the business understand the priority of the myriad of issues we could be tackling at a given point in time. One of our largest sources of input is you – our customers!
Our definition process is aimed at bringing clarity to a specific problem or area well in advance of making a commitment to building something in that space. For instance, we may be curious about how we can better serve you with our digital quotes or how we might improve the Part Library. These conversations are your opportunity to help us understand more about the problems you face. While this research may not lead to new products or capabilities inside of the Paperless platform, your participation is incredibly helpful to us and your input has a direct impact on the long-term vision of our product.
The focus of these conversations is about understanding the problems you’re facing rather than bringing any specific solutions to the table.
The other big area of contribution for our Product team is working directly with our Design and Engineering counterparts on determining how a specific piece of functionality should work. These conversations are focused on features which we are actively trying to start work on and will usually focus on showing you a series of mockups or walking you through a prototype in order to get your feedback on our specific solution.
Unlike Discovery, these conversations are specifically focused on getting your feedback to a specific problem we’ve chosen to solve, so you should assume (and the Product team will confirm) that the features you’re providing input on are about to enter active development in the product.