Upshot - The Product

Upshot was initially built back in 2012, and over the last decade the system has been continuously improved to meet the needs of the sector and organisations looking to measure their impact. 

As users of the system will know, Upshot does not have 'versions' or hidden 'extra/paid for' features. What you see is what you get - a complete system where new developments are available to all! 

Hopefully this article will give you a little bit of an insight on how this process works... 

Where do 'development ideas' come from?

Ideas can be big or small and can take the form of improvements to existing Upshot features or something completely brand new. 

There are four main sources of feedback for product development ideas on the system: 

1. Existing Upshot users - this feedback can come through our analysis of general support queries, feature requests and the annual User Satisfaction Survey

2. Prospective Upshot Users - feedback from organisations that comes via system demonstrations.

3. External trends: 

- Within the Not-for-Profit sector - What will existing system functionalities need to look like in ten years' time? Or what will need to be developed? 

- Within technology itself - For example we developed Two-Factor Authentication in 2019, giving users the opportunity to apply an extra layer of security when logging in, which has become common place in the last few years.

4. Upshot Team - there are ten committed team members who are heavily invested in improving the product for the benefit of the organisations they work with and the wider sector. The team works on the system daily and have years of combined experience testing product developments. 


How do 'ideas' become developments?

Ideas, from the various sources, are discussed within a product sub-team, led by our 'Head of Customer Success' but also involving our CEO and several other team members. 

Ideas are considered based on their value both to existing and prospective organisations. What potential problems will this solve? How many organisations would benefit from this solution? 

The Upshot system is used by over 1,000 organisations across a wide range of sectors in the non-profit community. It's important to consider developments that bring the most benefit to all. 

A big part of this process is understanding the use case thoroughly so a true assessment can be made. To do this, a member of the Upshot team might contact a user who submitted a feature request to get more of an understanding of the issue. 

Some ideas might be moved forward straight away, whereas others will be reviewed in more detail and fed through to consideration for a future Product Roadmap. 

The roadmap forms the basis of our developments, giving clarity on what changes we plan to make to the system over the next few months.

Ultimately, the Upshot team are guided by our four product principles, these are: 

  • Benefiting the community over tailoring to the needs of a few organisations.
  • Enabling data in and out over trying to do everything within the system.
  • Maintain high standards of data security, even over improved user experience. 
  • Maintain system availability for users, even over speed of devlopment and deployment.


How do developments actually happen?

Once ideas are decided upon, they are raised with our developers. 

We are pleased to say we have worked with Torchbox, an ethical digital agency for non-profit organisations, for over 13 years. 

From their Bristol office they originally built the system and over the subsequent years we have formed a close working relationship. 

The suggested idea is built by the developers and then tested in a sandbox environment (a fake Upshot account) by the developers and the Upshot team. 

Depending on the size and nature of the development this is sometimes shared with interested organisations/users for feedback in the development phase before being launched on the 'live' system. 

The whole development process happens continuously in the background so users can continue to work on the system seamlessly, rather than having to 'update' or download versions. 


How are developments communicated?

Developments are communicated in three main ways: 

1. What's New? - We added a change log into the system in July 2019, allowing us to update users more frequently when notable developments have been added to the system. These usually give a quick summary, but also have a guide or video attached so the user can understand the development more fully. 

As pictured below 'What's New?' can be accessed by all users in the top right-hand corner once logged in to the system. 

2. Quarterly Newsletter - This is sent out every three months and features a dedicated Product Corner section. This newsletter is also accessible to non-Upshot users and they can register for this here

3. Direct communication - The Upshot team will directly communicate with organisations/users that they feel will benefit from this development. 

What's new?
What's new?

After Launch

Once the development is live, we will look to analyse whether the development has had the desired impact. This might be from a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data sources. 

We will see whether trends in terms of support queries around the issue have changed. 

And/or it might be a case of gaining feedback from organisations using the development on whether this met the need or what could be further improved. 

If there are further ideas once the development is live these are collated and then moved forward into the process outlined above. 


To wrap up!

Hopefully that gives you a little bit of insight into the product development process here at Upshot, a better understanding of how and why development decisions are made as well as how they go from idea to development.