How We Choose Features for Ballpark

By Calvin Morris

At Simple Focus, we use Ballpark every day. We’re lucky to have a product that meets so many of our needs as a creative agency, but we’re always asking ourselves what we can do to make the product better.

But what does “better” mean for us?

More Better

All product companies say they want to make their product better. We’re more than a product company though – we’re a creative agency that has clients, and those clients expect us to help them make their products better. One of the ways we do that is by aligning and familiarizing ourselves with our clients’ vision.

We take the same approach to our work on Ballpark that we take when we work on client projects, the only difference being that, with Ballpark, we’re both the agency and the client.

So, what’s the plan?

Part of vision-setting is deciding what we want to work on, and in what order.

We’ve obviously got the redesign chugging along – slower than we’d like, but hey, the client has really high standards. The primary goal of Ballpark’s redesign is to set up an app that is more scalable and easier for us to build on.

After we deliver the redesign early this summer, we’re planning to tackle expenses (the crowd cheers) as part of a big push to make Ballpark better at budgeting. Budgeting has to be, as one of our designers likes to say, “so easy it hurts”. If it’s not easy, folks won’t use it, and they’ll be missing out on an opportunity to make their business more efficient and profitable.

Once we’ve got budgeting right where we want it, we’re going to move towards building cash flow management tools into Ballpark. These tools will give you deeper insight into the health of your company, and growing healthy companies is a huge part of where we see Ballpark in the future.

ballpark-todos-ha

And that should take us right on through the end of 2016 (I’m an optimistic guy).

Priorities

In case you didn’t notice, I way oversimplified our game plan. Getting all of that stuff done is a tall order. Here’s the face I make when I look at our todo list:

If we’re going to get it all done, we have to prioritize. There are several factors that help us decide what to do next:

  • We’re Users, Too: We use Ballpark every day. I mean, our whole team of 20 people uses it. So every glorious nook and cranny of the app – from timer-only users to the admin side – we know it. If there’s something we need it to do to make us better at running our business, you better believe that’s going on our todo list.
  • User Feedback: Our users are great about letting us know what they think about everything we push and everything we’re planning, so a big part of setting priorities is listening. If lots of people are asking for the same thing, then it moves up the list.
    However, there’s a caveat to this method: the requested feature must line up with the vision and the roadmap. If we’re not working on that part of the app yet, then we’re going to put it in the icebox.
  • Only So Many Minutes In A Day: Finally, we determine priority by  bandwidth. We’re a small company, and we have to balance our work on our products with our client work. Just providing support, pushing bug fixes, and regular maintenance on an app like Ballpark takes lots of time. Somewhere in all of that hustle, we clear out blocks of time to design and develop new stuff that we’re proud of.

Conclusion-y Things

We’re pumped up about the direction we’re headed. I get to see all the cool stuff before everyone else, but I love sharing.

If you’ve got a question about our direction, want to talk more about how we balance client work with product work, or just want a screenshot of the new hotness, shoot me an email: calvin@getballpark.com. You can also tweet us @ballparkapp.

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