Note: this is a follow-up to Jay B. Love’s blog post:

By Don Prodehl

Sharing Ideas, creating joint requirements and, in many cases, actually participating in co-development efforts with our customers has been a way of life at Avectra for the better part of the 10+ years that I’ve worked here. We learned early on the value of understanding business requirements in a broader sense and pooling all of our resources – customers, partners and staff.

When we first started planning and developing what would be our first .NET web-based membership management solution, we did so with the founding principles of innovation, extensibility and upgradability. Three simple words that I’m sure we have all heard many times over. But, nonetheless, words we took to heart. We knew that no matter how innovative we were, we could not build everything for everyone. So we focused on building a strong foundation and letting others “customize” or “extend” it. We also knew if we couldn’t upgrade the application and keep our customers “current” we couldn’t survive long-term. netFORUM would soon be born, and Avectra would be reborn.

In our very early days – through some trial and error and the occasional misstep – we realized the best way for a young company with a new product offering to be successful was to establish partnerships with our customers. We found the more customers were willing to work with us to share their ideas, shake out requirements and, of course, help fund development, the better chance we had to deliver quality software that met the needs of the widest audience in the shortest amount of time.

As we matured, the continuation of sharing business needs, ideas and requirements by our customers enabled Avectra’s engineering teams to think in holistic terms. Instead of being tasked with developing each and every use-case scenario (we left that to our partners and customers); our time could be better spent creating and strengthening the foundation and baseline of our applications. We developed a philosophy of questioning each major piece of functionality and determining if there was a baseline foundational starting point for a feature. If there wasn’t, we didn’t want to just build the feature and move on, but instead, build out a foundation to support that feature, plus many variations of it. The next customer who wanted something similar could either use our baseline offering, have us enhance it in one or our releases, or extend it to meet their specific uniqueness. Our philosophy enabled us to continuously strengthen and expand our product’s foundation, to enhance our baseline offering bringing it closer and closer to meeting the ever-changing business needs of all our customers.

Ten years later, much of the core functionality of our Social CRM, from pricing control/enhanced billing; special events handling to Moves Management, can be attributed to this approach. We have an over 98 percent renewal rate for our Enterprise customers, with more than 90 percent of them using the latest release of our product. We attribute our success to our philosophy, it’s one we believe in and one that has served us and our customers well throughout the years.

Our goal is to innovate and deliver quality software to our customers. There is a lot to do in the ever- changing world of technology, we certainly don’t have the time or desire to develop the same functionality multiple times over and I believe our customers appreciate that.

Don Prodehl, is Avectra’s Vice President of Research and Development.