In 5 years, Didacte has come a long way.
The more the years go by, the more the product is perfected, depending on market demands, technological advances, and the team’s capabilities.
But developing a web application that thousands of people use every day comes with many questions and thoughts.
Are we continuing to meet the needs of our customers? In the future, how can we improve the experience of our customers while respecting our strategic vision?
Léo and Martin share their opinion and their experience concerning the vision for Didacte in the coming years!
Léo Renaud-Allaire is one of the founders of Didacte and the Product Manager. He is very involved in the strategic thinking behind each new feature and guides the work to be done by the development team.
Martin Busuttil is responsible for customer experience and support. Therefore, he is at the forefront of understanding our customers’ issues, needs, and requests regarding the improvements to be made in the application to optimize their user experience.
What is the strategic vision for Didacte in the coming years?
(Léo) We aim to be the benchmark in the online training industry at the product level, first in French-speaking countries, then in the rest of the world. The goal is to continue to grow without forgetting what has made our success so far, including ease of use and exceptional customer service.
It means finding the best balance between developing useful new features for our customers, tweaking existing elements, and developing partnerships with other companies and existing systems.
There are many opportunities for integration between learning management systems like Didacte and HR management software. It's something upcoming.
At the same time, we continue to put a lot of effort into building an efficient and benevolent business. I have always wanted to create a company for which I would have liked to work as an employee, and I don't think I'm wrong in saying that we are on the right track at this level.
How do you manage customer requests regarding the development of the application?
(Martin) We're not a big team, which is to our advantage. It has the effect of minimizing the number of steps a request has to climb before being considered. As we are used to keeping a list of the items requested by our customers up to date, nothing ends up falling between two chairs.
Our customers do not know that it is often already documented on our side when they request a new feature or an improvement! Connecting to the application and our customers daily, we always want to be proactive and ahead of what they might ask us.
There is, however, a difference between a new feature request and an improvement request. The two are treated differently, as they are not of the same nature. As explained below, discussions about adding new features have their dedicated channel.
On the other hand, at each end of the production cycle, Leo and I now make a habit of reviewing the list of potential improvements documented in the previous weeks. Since I regularly speak with our clients, this exercise allows me to identify the little corners that we can “polish” on our platform directly to the right person.
Very often, these choices are simply made based on the volume of demand from our customers!
Is it challenging to satisfy both the customers and the vision of the company?
(Léo) We develop a solution to fix our customers' problems, so those two things have to be aligned.
We have our vision of what we want to offer and where we want to go, but we need to validate with our customers that we are not entirely off track before developing a new feature.
There is nothing worse than spending weeks developing the best screwdriver only to realize that all everyone needed was a hammer.
As Martin said, we document a lot internally the requests we receive from clients. It allows us to quickly contact those who had expressed an interest and ask them more questions about their specific needs or allow them to test a feature exclusively in beta.
How do you go about determining what will be the following developments in Didacte?
(Martin) The approach differs as we are not talking about improving existing elements but adding new features. We keep and always document a list of the features of interest for the platform. However, since adding a new feature takes more time and resources, the parameters are different.
We will always naturally prioritize the requests that come up most often. However, this is not the only element that comes into play.
Our choices are always influenced by our business objectives and our development strategy. My role is to summarize what I see and hear from our clients to the management team. The more we have an accurate picture of their reality, the more the team can make the right decisions depending on the context.
When choosing the feature(s) that we will develop in the upcoming production cycle, we must always ensure that it consolidates the appeal we can have with our target customers. In short, the choice to make an addition must respond to our customers’ already existing demand and attract future customers with whom we would like to collaborate.
(Léo) One of the things that we have changed over time is that while we document a lot, we don't have an official backlog or roadmap. We realized over time that having a roadmap that was too precise didn't give us the flexibility we needed when opportunities arose.
In the end, we were only postponing our roadmap, which fed a feeling of failure, when in fact, it was quite the opposite: we had just worked on things that were more important than those that we had previously planned!
Without going into too much detail, we have a process that looks like this:
1. Writing pitches for ideas for features or improvements to the platform that could become priorities in the short term.
It's a good part of my job as a product manager to figure out what idea deserves to become an official pitch and write it down, sometimes collaborating with other team members.
2. Betting on what we could do in the next production cycle (we work on a 6-week cycle).
Before each cycle, a small team meets to determine which pitches are priorities in the next cycle. This is where the big decisions are made.
We assess the pitches based on the feasibility and availability of the team members but also the interest for our clients and their alignment with our business strategy.
The pitches allow us to think ahead of developments that could fit into our vision but always make decisions on real-time priorities. Some pitches will never materialize because they just will never be the priority, and that's fine.
Where do you communicate what's new in the app to your customers and prospects?
(Martin) In addition to our usual communication channels (newsletters, messages in the application, website, etc.), I also establish a more direct link with our customers and leads. Let's just say I know who to call if we have a new feature they might be interested in!
As we try to document this as much as possible, we already know that some users will want to try it when adding something to the platform.
Interestingly, by contacting customers who have already asked us for a particular feature, we activate it for them first when we release it. It allows us to gradually deploy and ensure that the machine is well oiled a few days before making the feature available to everyone.
In addition, when we know in advance who has an interest in a new feature, we make sure we have "natural" testers. They are in the best position to use it immediately and give us relevant feedback quickly.
It also gives them VIP access to new features in the application, which helps strengthen the relationship we have with them!
Check out the other articles in this series in the Team section of the blog.