Accounting software development seems like quite a complex and technical thing, and rightly so. Software development of any kind is a highly skilled process.
Then throw in the countless intricacies of modern accounting processes, alongside legislation and laws governing business accounts and tax, the requirements for a modern finance system in 2022 become overwhelming. That’s all before you start considering how best to utilise more emerging technologies such as automation and AI.
While the benefits of modern accounting software and cloud hosting mean most finance users don’t need to worry about software upgrades and maintenance in the same way they used to, when talking to finance system suppliers it’s always good to understand what you will be receiving. How new functionality is built, the extent you as a customer can feed into it and how often you can expect upgrades to be deployed, all vary greatly from system to system.
We picked the brains of our own Chief Technical Consultant and development lead to break down the bluQube development process for you. Lifting the curtain on how we build accounting software in a bid to provide you with a benchmark, allowing you to ask the right questions of your own supplier.
While building the software is highly skilled and technical, at bluQube, we aim to keep the development process itself simple. This is to ensure everyone is aware of how to get ideas into the process, whether that’s feedback from our customers or ideas from internal teams, and what they can expect at the other end. Allowing as many stakeholders as possible to feed into the development process simply, and having processes in place to manage and prioritise those inputs, only ensures a better finance system as the result. That’s good news for our users and good news for us as a business.
Below is a list of how we categorise those ideas and inputs.
Ideas for new finance functionality or software modules can come from anywhere. It might be ideas through internal use (yes, we really do run our business on our own systems), a spark from a chat with a customer or prospect, or maybe a change in the technology stack that allows us to utilise something exciting.
Large new functionality tends to be dealt with by setting up a specific development project. These projects are allocated a project manager who ensures that the project stays on track and that all the steps are completed. It is first properly defined by a business analyst with detailed accountancy knowledge, so that from day 1 we ensure the final product is fit for purpose.
Then development resource is allocated to produce an initial high-level design as to how the functionality will be structured and ultimately built. We then use this to discuss the module internally, as well as with a selection of customers, to understand whether it is something that will ultimately provide our customers with value. In the case of larger tools, we produce a beta version for real-world testing with a selected group of customers, allowing them to utilise the new functionality in their day to day.
Most of our requests for enhancements to our accountancy software come directly from our customers. We have an open enhancement policy and customers can request enhancements via a simple form at any time.
Once created these go through a rigorous process of evaluation. Some of the criteria we use when evaluating enhancements are:
If approved, enhancements will be prioritised based on the positive impact they will bring. Then once built, can be rolled out to all customers almost immediately.
Unfortunately, software of all kinds experiences bugs from time to time. We test the product thoroughly to minimise the chance of them rolling out to customers, but with a large and complex system, there is a chance a customer could find an issue we haven’t previously identified.
Our customers can raise issues with our Support team 24/7. Our support team have a direct phone number and email address manned during office hours, often the easiest way, and outside of that issues can be logged via a short online form. We will then test the raised issue and if it can be replicated on well-defined environments, the issue then becomes a bug.
Bug fixes tend to be small, easily reproducible, and easy to deliver. Meaning we can roll out these fixes in next to no time at all.
Changes to our technology stack may influence the direction of development and what we can include in the product. We are constantly testing new technology a step ahead of the versions in the live software. When that new tech passes our tests, we deliver it to our customers within their live system and we move on to testing the next new technologies, ensuring we’re constantly working to keep customers at the forefront of modern software.
Finally, a word about how we get all these new changes out to our customers. At bluQube we have two key release types. Service Releases (SR) and Maintenance Releases (MR), all of which are deployed remotely to the cloud with no resource required from customers and at no additional cost.
bluQube services releases are delivered every 2 weeks, ensuring customers are never waiting long and the product is near-constantly evolving. These releases tend to roll out in the background and generally include smaller enhancements and any bug fixes.
We have around 4 of these larger releases each year and will be used to deliver larger functionality changes and new system modules.
With the technical world of software development a mystery to many of us, it can be daunting to ask the right questions of your system suppliers, and when you do, difficult to know what answers to expect.
When speaking to prospective software suppliers make sure you understand what their development process looks like. Are you buying a system that’s been shaped by years of use from your peers, or is it going to be difficult to have your ideas heard? And when updates are rolled out, how often can you expect them and what resource will be required from you?
If you’d like to see accounting software that’s shaped by customers, at the forefront of modern technology and constantly evolving, book a demo to see bluQube in action.
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