Written by: Simon Warren, Managing Director
Following the successful launch of the Solicitor’s Rules products last year, 2019 is going to bring a number of exciting new CaseWare Cloud applications to the market. As part of our release plans we’re looking for client firms that want to become part of our Beta Programme. It’s a great opportunity for a firm to gain early insights into our product direction, and a chance to influence some of the decision making on a product’s direction and feature set. It’s a full collaborative process that provides close contact with our Product Management team, and helps your firm prepare early for any cloud product adoption.
If you’d like to find out more there are contact details at the end of this article, along with the products planned for full or beta release from March onwards that you may want to engage with. But first, here is a brief explanation of our product release process to help you understand how you fit in.
As part of the continuous software development lifecycle software goes through various stages of usability, from an idea and feasibility studies through building content and features to a final release version that works. Some of these stages will be kept wholly in-house but others will be opened up to small groups of customers for their feedback, as an ‘Alpha’ or ‘Beta’ release. Their input is vital in helping us not only test the products, but also to judge if the content, features and direction of the products is right. Ultimately of course the entire product is distributed, or made available, as a final release version.
So how do we decide what stage our software has reached? This can be a very subjective decision, but in general we use these definitions;
An alpha release usually means that the application is working, or aspects of it are working, or it contains useful content, but some of the functionality or content is likely to be missing and there could be a number of known and unknown bugs which are likely to surface.
The main purpose of an alpha release is to allow users to test an idea for user satisfaction so that they can pass on feedback to the product owners in terms of:
- Bugs found (ignoring known issues)
- Desired changes to existing content or functionality
- Additional content or functionality that should be developed
- Overall usability
Alpha versions are not for live use because almost anything (content, features or functionality) could change without warning. It is for testing and feedback purposes only.
A beta release usually means that the application has had all of the major known issues fixed but has not been signed off as an official release. It might not be “fully-featured” but would have sufficient content and functionality to provide a good basis for usability testing.
The main purpose of a beta release is to provide a second opportunity to garner user feedback. This second round of feedback means our Product Owners can:
- Make user-led modifications to existing functionality
- Capture any ideas for additional functionality that might be implemented at a later date
- Resolve any other bugs or performance issues that would prevent a fully signed-off official release
- Deal with any unforeseen issues amongst a smaller user group rather than the entire client base
Significantly, beta versions can generally be used for live clients as content, features and functionality should be maintained following updates. However, the product could still change depending on feedback.
How do you provide feedback?
The feedback mechanisms vary depending on the nature of the product and the phase it’s reached. They can be short group webinars with the Product Managers, but usually via online collaboration using the same CaseWare Cloud portal that all of our cloud clients have within their own firm. Each beta group is therefore a collaborative community, sharing their feedback freely. However CaseWare Collaborate allows us to control visibility of any conversation or information that individual firms may wish to provide confidentially.
What's coming up from CaseWare Cloud in 2019?
This is the list of products that you may wish to get more closely involved with in the coming months. Some are closer to completion than others, but we’d welcome your involvement with any of them.
- CaseWare Cloud Audit (Mercia) – the limited company audit pack with Mercia content
- Companies Act Checklists – A full set of disclosure checklists in the cloud
- Personal Tax – CaseWare’s first full personal tax application
- CaseWare Engage – a client collaboration/Prepared-By-Client application
- Cloud Financial Statements – First versions of the cloud financial statement system
How do we get involved?
If your firm would like to be part of our Beta Programme please contact:
The Product Management team are excited to hear from you.