September 22, 2014
New ByCommittee Template Feature and Agile Development
Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure | Releases | Company news
If you’re a ByCommittee Promotion & Tenure user and have been setting up new case after new case for reviews at your institution, then you’re in luck. We just made that process much simpler with the addition of easy-to-use templates for setting up future promotion, tenure, or review cases.
The ability to create a template is a nice upgrade for our users, but the process by which we designed the template also shows a bit about how we go about software development at Interfolio.
One of the strongest tenets of feature design we employ on the Interfolio Software Development Team is iterative development. When we create something for our users, we like to gather feedback and data, and then take a second crack at our idea (or sometimes even a third). This particular attitude towards feature development is part of an overall software development philosophy known as Agile Development. We put this attitude into practice with our newest ByCommittee Promotion & Tenure templates feature.
Our goal at Interfolio is to remove complications and friction points for users by providing a seamless workflow that is simple to start, conduct, and finish. We learned that one of the most difficult parts of conducting a committee-based review was the organization and coordination involved in starting the whole process. With ByCommittee P&T, administrators now have the ability to set up case templates to act as starting points from which they can begin the formal process for an individual candidate in the future. ByCommittee users set up case templates just like they would individual cases: templates contain much of the same information as a normal case, including material requirements and custom workflow features.
One issue we ran into early in development was that the process of creating a template was not distinct enough from creating a case. Our solution was to have the template creation look like a distinct workflow. After rigorous testing and analysis of user feedback, we decided that the second implementation was still a bit clunky. There was no easy way to manage case templates, and the language used in the feature was still a bit off. So, we took another pass at it. We went back and adjusted how users enter and exit the workflow, made significant revisions to the language that the user sees, and gave users a dedicated place to manage their list of case templates. Then, after more testing, we released the revised feature to our users.
So, while the first version of the templates feature didn’t quite meet our expectations of a finished product, we didn’t stop there. We set out to give users a way to plan out the logistics of conducting future promotion and tenure reviews, and we iterated on the work until the end product was a fully polished feature that will hopefully make our users lives a bit easier!