From the CEO: The Top 19 Improvements We’re Making

When I left my last company, I decided that any new project would have to meet five specific criteria before I’d pursue it. The most important of these was that I wanted to solve a problem I’d personally experienced.

The idea for Grow came from my own experience managing teams and data, spending hours creating the reports I needed to run my business, so our goal for customers has been to create the easiest way to pull data, build reports, and share that data with your team so you can be data-driven and accelerate your growth.

We’re trying to solve a complex problem.

When we launched Grow, everything was pre-built. We believed companies only needed to look at specific data reports if they were using Quickbooks or a CRM, so all we needed to do was create a few simple templates.

What we’ve found through customer feedback and our own experience using Grow is that everybody is unique. Everybody has different data sources. Everybody wants to see the data differently. Everybody has their own structure.

In short, the problem we want to solve is much more complex than originally anticipated.

When I realized this, I was seriously tempted to throw in the towel. But instead of giving up, we buckled up, and became obsessed with solving the problem.

Hyper-growth has caused some challenges.

Data is not magic, and to solve that problem, we had to re-architect everything and go heads-down because nothing mattered but finding the perfect solution to empower our customers.

Today, what we’ve built is more powerful, technical, and sophisticated than I ever expected. Grow is delivering real value to customers, and our hard work has been validated by seeing customers succeed—and fueling our own insane growth.

In a very short period of time, we’ve gone from 0 users to 4,300 users. There are 8,000 BI dashboards currently in use which are populated with almost 56,000 metrics and reports. We’ve gone from providing only pre-built metrics to our customers using customized metrics almost exclusively. Grow has become an incredibly powerful tool.

The process hasn’t been without its growing pains. With that hyper-growth, we added tons of  new features for customers and piped in enormous amounts of data… which has come with app speed issues, performance issues, and an accumulation of bugs to resolve.

It frustrates us sometimes, too.

It’s been exciting to see this company grow, but as a user of the product, I’ve been frustrated. We built Grow specifically for the non-analyst, and since I’m in that category, I feel I should be able to use Grow successfully and easily.

And yet, I’ve struggled with many of the pain points our customers experience within the product. So has the rest of our team. (When it comes to eating our own dogfood, we’ve feasted.)

We recently sent out an NPS survey, and we loved hearing that Grow is helping so many businesses succeed. We also got great feedback on pain points that our customers were experiencing—and found that they were often the same difficulties we were having.

Solving these specific problems has become our number one priority. We are completely focused on creating a better experience for our customers, to make Grow something that a non-analyst can succeed at very easily.

We’ve prioritized our next moves.

This week, we gathered our core team and some of the heaviest users of our app. We had everyone write down 25 things that drove them nuts in the app. After everyone read off their list and we consolidated duplicate items, we had a list of 100 unique pain points or improvements to make.

Our dev team rated each issue by difficulty on a scale of 1-5. A 1 was a really easy fix, and a 5 was very technically difficult. On the business side, we rated each issue by priority on a scale from 1, “do this immediately,” down to 5, “not that important.” We then multiplied the two ratings to get an overall priority score.

This process revealed items that were both very important and very easy to do. One of our company’s core values is something we call “Make the Offer.” Through experience, we’ve learned to make quick decisions and just get stuff done, that “done trumps perfect” every time. This idea helps us identify quick, impactful wins.

Here are the Top 19 changes we’re making…

Our list of things to fix is about 100 items long. But to give you a taste of what’s coming down the pipe, here are the top 19 changes we’re making:

  1. Currently, we load data all at once, which is a big strain on the system. To improve this, we’re splitting the front end code into different modules so the app only pulls certain data when it needs it. This means your dashboards will load faster, and when you need to edit a metric, the app will be much snappier.
  2. We’re pinpointing what slows down chart loading and refactoring the javascript code to increase speed.
  3. We’re refactoring several pages on the site to improve performance.
  4. We’re cleaning up the code when pages load.
  5. We’ve set up a separate staging environment to improve the QA testing process.
  6. We’ve restructured the bug testing process and are doubling our QA resources.
  7. We’re improving documentation for spreadsheet functions so you can clean up your data just like a spreadsheet. There will be better documentation to help you work through the formulas you need, so you can do it faster.
  8. We’re changing metric tile interactions to create a smoother, cleaner experience.
  9. We’re changing default colors and styles on visualizations so it requires less customization to build something beautiful.
  10. We’re revamping table charts with a new code language called React which cuts the load time to serve data by 80%.
  11. We’re adding more and better documentation to help users in different areas of the site.  For example, if you’re in an SQL box, we’ll provide an SQL language article with instructions on how to use it.
  12. There are several bugs that we’re working to reproduce so we can get them in the queue and solve them as soon as possible.
  13. We’re improving the dashboard manager features so that it’s easier and more intuitive to switch between dashboards and save them to your favorites.
  14. We’re making UI changes to improve the overall look, including icons, font sizes, and padding issues. For example, when you expand metric options, some of the icons are confusing. We are making them clearer and more actionable.
  15. We’ve often wished we had a support member next to us when we’ve run into issues or gotten stuck. With that in mind, we’re going to identify where people tend to get stuck and provide tips so they can have a better experience.
  16. We’re changing some default data formats to provide a more intuitive experience. For example, we’ll recognize a date and automatically format it to a shorter, cleaner style instead of the database format, YYYY-MM-DD.
  17. Right now, tiles can be stacked on top of each other or placed anywhere on the canvas, and it can get a little messy. So, we’re bringing back mosaic-style toggling on the dashboard so that you can move tiles around the dashboard and automatically slide other tiles out of the way. This will make it easy to organize the flow and the layout of your dashboard.
  18. We’re improving presentation mode with better UI and visual experience so that it’s easier and clearer when you present metrics and reports in staff meetings, department meetings, board meetings, etc.
  19. Sometimes a data source will get disconnected and require you to re-authenticate the account. That’s a standard process for many apps, but it can be frustrating when it disconnects unexpectedly. We’re adding an immediate disconnection notification with a one-click link to reauthenticate the app so you’re up and running again in no time.

We’re measuring our success.

We’re measuring success toward our objectives with a few key metrics which we’ve displayed on our Grow dashboards.

First, we’re clocking the number of seconds it takes to load a very heavy dashboard twice a day. This is one of our main metrics because app slowness has been a frustration for so many customers. As we’ve implemented changes and fixed more bugs, we’ve already seen the seconds come down.

We’re also tracking app stability and the number of bugs being logged against bugs being finished and closed out.

The last metric that’s determining the success of these projects is our NPS score. We hope that as we continue to make these improvements to the app, we’ll be able to see more of our customers become promoters, and fewer become detractors. We want Grow to be something you’re excited about and satisfied with.

For our customers who are having challenges…

We know that Grow isn’t perfect (yet), so most users are going to run into challenges and frustrations. We’re in that bucket too—after all, internally, we’re one of the heaviest users.

We know that the technical learning curve is less than ideal. We’re working to solve that. Until we can improve it, we have a full support team and data analysts on staff that are standing by, waiting to help you.

More than anything, we want you to remember that although the process can be hard, it’s worth it. For example, we had one customer this week who experienced Dropbox syncing issues. She said:

“It’s funny to me how this new tool is suddenly SO important to everyone and the minute something isn’t working like it should, it throws everyone into a panic. We survived all these years without it, but now we can’t survive an afternoon! It’s a good problem to have, I guess. It shows that I am doing something important!”

We know Grow can empower your team, but we understand that good problems are still problems. When you run into a challenge, know that we’re working hard to solve it.

Thank you.

None of this would be possible without customer support and feedback. We love all of our customers, and the feedback we’ve received has been insanely helpful. We appreciate your patience as you’ve experienced bugs or other performance issues. It’s our number one goal right now to lessen those frustrations for you.

We plan for Grow to become an even more amazing product that adds tons of value to your business. At the end of the day, our mission is not about the data or the reports. It’s about accelerating your growth and helping you creating a data-driven culture.

We truly exist to serve customer problems, and we want to do whatever we can to solve yours. We’re here to support you and build out anything you need to reach your goals.

Thank you—

Rob Nelson
Founder & CEO