Making a Good Product Even Better: Buy or Build Decisions
The National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution (NCTDR) CyberWeek conference for 2023 launched on Monday. ADR Notable was invited to present its product last year as an introduction to the marketplace. We were invited back this year, but instead of doing a simple product demo a second time, we focused the conversation on how technology service providers go about adding features to an existing software product.
How do new features get added to a software platform?
Essentially, this starts with the identification of the feature or service that you want to add say, for instance, digital signature, based on feedback from your clients, assessing competitive products and any other market data you can find. Then the service provider investigates the full scope of the requirements – what exactly the clients need that feature to do, and the variety of circumstances in which it needs to do it. This is not as simple as it sounds. For example, in adding the billing feature ADR Notable discovered the vast array of ways in which practitioners bill for their services: hourly, with differing hourly rates, flat fees for half day, full day or full case, combinations of flat fees and hourly, reimbursement for expenses, all paid in advance, in arrears or some of each. The billing feature needed to accommodate overpayments, underpayments, late payments, varying fee split arrangements between the parties, sales tax in a few jurisdictions and more.
When to build…
Once a full set of requirements are in hand, ADR Notable could survey the market for an existing product to accommodate all of the needs of ADR practitioners related to the specific feature. In the presentation, we noted that we were unable to find a suitable billing feature, and thus designed and built it ourselves, recently adding the link to move data into QuickBooks.
and when to buy
In contrast to billing, we looked at the scheduling feature included in ADR Notable where we were able to find a product to integrate into the ADR Notable platform. The requirements again included more than you’d expect on the surface, but the key pain point we were solving for was the ability to efficiently schedule several people for a meeting or mediation session, avoiding the back-and-forth email process too often used today. We found CalendarHero, a Canadian company with a product that met all of the requirements, including the group scheduling. CalendarHero was integrated to make group scheduling seamless, and to offer embedding a calendar link in a website or email signature to allow parties to self-book times to meet.
We offered short demos of both features to show how each can become a seamless part of the ADR Notable platform, and offer solutions to two key tasks that are a part of every practitioner’s administrative tasks.