Let’s say you need a feature that’s not available at your version of Advantage. For example, your marketers want to be able to delay charging a customer’s credit card for a period of time after the order ships. (Order today and pay tomorrow!) Maybe you want to receive payment in a different currency than the one billed. Or you want to be able to grace issues based on the subscription term. All of these needs---which were actual requests in the past---can be addressed by working with AdvantageCS to perform a modification to the software.
The first step in the modification “life cycle” is to describe the business need and then submit is a request to AdvantageCS for a rough estimate. Then it goes to the AdvantageCS modification team, which meets twice a week to discuss these requests. They ask questions such as:
- Does the feature exist at a more recent version of the software than what you are running? (If so, you may just need a retrofit of the functionality.)
- Does the requested functionality make sense as a base change to the software? In general, AdvantageCS prefers base modifications---which are also to the client’s benefit---and will propose a client-specific change only when the functionality is not applicable to the general client population.
- What is the best design to achieve the stated purpose? And what are the estimated hours for the change?
How can the group reach a consensus on things like best design and hours estimates, you ask? Well, the modifications team has worked together for so long that they know how the other members think and come to agreement more often than not.
Time to Get Formal
Once you receive the modification team’s rough estimate, you can opt to proceed to the next step, which is to request a formal modification specification from AdvantageCS. The “mod spec” is written from a user perspective, and describes the proposed new functionality, but it also states the underlying software changes (tables, views, APIs) that will be needed. Based on your company’s review of the spec, multiple back-and-forth iterations might be needed until all parties are satisfied with the description of the business need and the proposed solution.
Up to this point, though, nothing has really “happened.” It’s not until you formally approve the mod specification that the development gears start turning. The approved work is assigned to one of the engineering teams, which performs the programming tasks in one of its scheduled development sprints. First the team meets to discuss the modification, review the current code and the necessary changes, and break the work down into its constituent steps. Depending on the size of the modification, the work might be assigned to multiple engineers. AdvantageCS uses such collaborative tools as team workspaces, daily standup meetings, and code reviews to ensure that no one performs these tasks in isolation.
Enter the QA Team
When the engineers have completed their work and installed the mod in one of the local test areas, the AdvantageCS Quality Assurance team steps up and makes sure the modification is complete, consistent, and integrated successfully with the other existing features of the software. Only when the QA team is satisfied does the modification “graduate” to the next available software update (assuming it’s a base mod), at which time AdvantageCS can also perform a retrofit to your Advantage release, if this was requested as part of the approved work.
Your Turn to Test
The mod is installed in the area of your choice on your site and now it’s your turn to test it Only when you are satisfied with the results is the change rotated to your production environment---a task that AdvantageCS normally assists you with.
It Ain’t Over Till The Doco Is Done
But there’s still one more step! As part of the monthly feature updates, a detailed description of the new Advantage feature is published on the AdvantageCS help website---and then finds a permanent home in the current online documentation set. What started as a (great) business concept has finally arrived as a useful and exciting new way to use the Advantage software.