Deciding to build your own in-house solution is not a decision you make overnight. It takes a lot of investment. But sometimes, it is completely worth it. And thankfully, that’s the case for eve Networks and the eve portal the team and I created.
Creating an in-house solution
In simple terms, we created a place (the eve portal) where you can log in to find everything you, as a reseller or end user, need. It’s everything you need to supply and support your customers in one central location.
Whether that is ordering hardware, setting up hosted voice seats, ordering broadband or ethernet, or supporting any of those things, it’s all there.
Why create our own?
I’ve used a lot of portals over the years, and something that always stood out to me was they didn’t think with the channel in mind.
Let’s take hosted voice as an example. There are a lot of associated services that come with hosted voice-number porting, hardware, new numbers, etc. Portals I’ve worked with in the past didn’t include these aspects, so you had to go to another place to find these. It always felt clunky and not designed with the user in mind.
Where did we begin?
We started where I believe any project like this should, with the user experience (UX). We took all our combined experience and thought about the best and worst parts of those systems. Starting here allowed us to clearly define what we wanted this to be. Getting this written down and agreed, upon meant we had a clear vision that we could refer to throughout the course of the project. If at any point we felt we were drifting, we could pull ourselves right back to the vision.
The single running thread was that what we created had to be intuitive, but without compromising functionality. From all our experience, this was the one key thing we felt was lacking in other portals and something that we could make outstanding.
Where we are now
At the start of the project, we had a clear aim of what a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) looked like. This would be the point at which we went to market.
That was in 2016 and a lot has changed since then. That’s personally one of my favourite things about this project, it is always evolving, and probably always will be. The team at eve Networks who work on improvements and new features day in day out are always hungry to work on making our in-house solution better, without ever losing sight of that vision – to be intuitive, always.
There is always something new coming up – whether it’s big new features or small but important changes we make along the way.
No project comes without its challenges
I would be lying if I told you everything ran perfectly from start to finish, that’s just not how projects work. And that’s a good thing, the tough parts are where we really learn and improve.
I’ll give you an example of a challenge we faced.
So, initially, we used in-house developers exclusively, but as time passed and the deadline for reaching MVP crept closer, we considered outsourcing a part of the project.
It quickly became clear that this wasn’t the right move for us – and that’s okay. Every team of developers has its own way of working and uses different methodologies and if they don’t align you come into some difficulty.
I truly believe challenges in projects are good, embrace them, learn from them, and grow.
The benefits of having an in-house solution
I’ve worked with suppliers before where you need a change made so you contact support, request the change, and then wait months to hear back if you hear back at all that is.
As a customer that is immensely frustrating.
But, where there is frustration, there is often a solution.
Having our own in-house solution means we can respond to customer requests, quickly. And it means if a customer comes to us with a new feature idea, or an update that would help them we can, within reason, implement it.
It allows us to be closer to what customers need and want.
We’re proud of what we’ve made, but what do other people think?
The most common thing we hear when we run a demo of the eve portal is “it’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it’s going to make my life easier”.
That second point there “it’s intuitive” is something I’m proud of, it’s what we set out to be so to hear that directly from the people that use it is incredibly rewarding. It’s also a great motivator to continue to improve, to never sit still, and to always evolve this to be the very best solution out there.