We rewrote our BambooHR Integration. Unfortunately it sent misleading digest mails instantly. Please disregard.

We’ve overhauled our BambooHR Integration, making an already successful integration even better.  Details below. Unfortunately, the code triggered confusing status mails to all admins at companies that were already using the BambooHR integration.

Please ignore the mails we just sent you

We took the new importer code live yesterday, and it was supposed to be a silent migration. Unfortunately, the new code triggered digest emails to many administrators, letting them know that SI had supposedly updated all their users. We’re now also importing the employee ID field, which is a good thing, but the digest didn’t communicate this well, and it should not have appeared in the initial import at all.  No “real” changes (like core fields or reporting structure) were made to your user base, so you can disregard the mail.

To make things worse, the digest accidentally listed a “deleted user” as the author of the change, not the “BambooHR Import” as it used to. We’re sorry about the confusion this has caused. In effect nothing happened and all is good.

Here’s why the new import is a great thing anyway

The BambooHR integration is our most important integration by far. It has been working reliably since 2011 and saves our customers tons of headaches by keeping BambooHR and SI in sync. We rewrote the integration to make a great feature even better. It is that central to us. Here’s what changed:

More interactive

Especially if you’re a larger company, you’ll love the fact that the preview table can be sorted by any column, and you can use the bar chart at the top to drill into the changes that you’re most interested in.bamboo2

Audit trail, and more secure

Each successful import now leaves an audit trail entry, so you can go back in time and get a detailed explanation what changed at what point. Click the details button for the nitty gritty of “what user changed in what way exactly?”

bamboo4

We’re storing your API key as before, but we’re not displaying it beyond the first couple of characters anymore. Not unlike a credit card you entered into an online shop, you’ll be able to identify which API key you’re using, while it’s not possible to extract it anymore, since only a few characters are displaying.Manage_the_BambooHR_Integration_-_Small_Improvements

More scalable

The old import had some inherent technical limitations that meant it could only preview up to 300 changes at once, which was especially annoying when a larger client wanted to preview the initial import. Now fixed. Preview as many changed users as you like.

More intuitive for new users

When visiting the screen for the first time, you only need to enter your credentials, and then you save them. Only then you’ll get to see the preview screen and the history tab, and you won’t end up in the config tab anymore by default, but in the history tab.

That’s how it should have been right from the start, but the “old” BambooHR Import had grown over time, and while it worked it was just a bit clunky to use. Now fixed.

Built with future integrations in mind

Truth be told, the old import was a technical mess internally. It worked fine, but we couldn’t reuse any of it for what we’re planning. So we made sure that new import is the perfect basis for future integration. We’ll rewrite the Google Apps integration next, and we’re aiming to allow self-service CSV and Excel import later this year. And we’re hoping to provide a convenient Workday import as well soonish.

As always we don’t promise any exact dates (our roadmaps do change) but we’ve come a long way already, so fingers crossed!

We’re streamlining our pricing: Less plans, better volume discounting

Short version: Starting April 15, we’re simplifying our pricing for new customers. All features are available under one plan at our previous Gold plan price of $6 per user/month. We’ve also expanded our volume discounts to 3 tiers at 200, 500, and 1000 users so Small Improvements remains affordable for our larger clients. Existing customers are unaffected, your price will never change, but it could make sense to upgrade for some.

One unified plan instead of three

Since our inception in 2011 we’ve had 3 payment plans: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze had all the core features, Silver added many product integrations, and Gold featured convenience features such as custom design and single-sign-on. Our reasoning was that we wanted to give everyone a chance to use SI at a very low cost, and only charge for features that make SI even more awesome.

We’re now scrapping that model and dropping the Bronze and Silver plans. In a nutshell, we feel every user should experience the Gold plan goodness, or not use SI at all. Our tool has grown so comprehensive that $6 per user is even more of a bargain than 2 years ago, and that there is no point selling an artificially reduced plan.

We had expected that most Silver and Gold plan features would be attractive mainly from an administrative perspective (like SSO via Google Apps, or custom design). But in reality all Silver/Gold features are also great for end users (like SSO or custom design), and we don’t want end users to miss out. We’re growing by word of mouth, and our buyers are the most happy when their staff are happy. No point making staff less happy just so finance can save a few bucks. We want every user to love SI, be it the intern or the CEO, and artificially removing features is simply not a good idea.

New volume discount tiers

While at it, we’re also adjusting our volume discounts. Our “old pricing” had two tiers: Up until 500 users you paid $60 per user per year, and for every user above 500 you paid $30. We’re changing this to include 4 tiers.

Users Price per user per year Price per user per month (when paying monthly)
10-200 $60 $6
200-500 $40 $4
500-1000 $30 $3
1000-2000 $20 $2

It looks slightly more complicated, but even in the worst case (if you have over 1000 users) it’s just a sum of 4 values. For instance a company with 1500 staff would pay: 200*$6 + 300*$4 + 500*3 + 1000*$2, in total that’s $4900 USD per month. You can calculate your exact price on the pricing page too: http://www.small-improvements.com/pricing

Grandfathering: No change to existing customers

All existing customers can stay on their current plan for as long as they please. So if you signed up for the Bronze plan, you can stay with that until you quit using SI, whenever that is. You can switch to “old Silver” as well. We’re keeping the old pricing page online for your reference. You’re welcome to upgrade to the unified pricing whenever you want, though.

Only if you leave SI for more than 2 months and then come back for a renewal, the new pricing applies.

Transitioning period

If you signed up for a trial on or after April 15 then the new pricing applies instantly.

If you are testing SI already and have signed up for a trial account on April 14 or earlier, or you requested a quote already, then you can still get the “old pricing” until the end of May. From June 1 onwards, the new pricing applies to you as well.

Edge-cases and fine print

There will be no “refunds”. Meaning, if you signed up for 1000 users on the Gold plan in December 2014 for a year, you would have paid $45k. On the new pricing, this will only be $39k. There is no “refund” of $6k since you didn’t “overpay” – you simply paid a price that made sense at that time. This is similar to when you buy a new car and a month later it is offered at a lower price, your car dealer isn’t going to issue a refund. However, we don’t want you to feel unhappy either, so we’ll consider extending your license by a month or two for free if you’re very unhappy about our product getting better and cheaper at the same time. ;) Also, keep in mind that you will benefit from the new pricing when renewals are due.

If you are on Silver and have more than 400 users, then we’ll switch you to the unified plan automatically, since it’s around the same price point, and the unified plan has more features.

Please welcome the new Objectives overview screen

We’re proud to present an overhauled objectives overview screen: It follows the new visual style of the reviews and 360s overview, and is much more interactive than the “old” version. The new screen allows for easy sorting on each column, there’s the quick user search in the top right corner, and all admin actions have moved to the top right.

What’s more, we’ve added bar charts to display the distribution of objective categories, ratings and status (if you use them) This saves a lot of vertical screen estate compared to our old pie chart approach, and makes filtering a lot easier and accessible. The following cycle uses the status feature (but not the categories) so only one bar chart is showing. You can click any segment to filter.:

Objective_Overview_of__Objectives_Q1_2015__-_Small_Improvements

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How to give and receive peer feedback – the startup way

Ongoing communications are vital for employee engagement and productive teams. We all know that without feedback, neither our peers nor we can learn and grow. Just an annual performance review feels like scarcely scheduled feedback overload. So how and how often should feedback be best provided? How much does company culture play a role? And how can we improve on requesting and being open to constructive feedback ourselves?

In an insightful and honest hangout, the SUPPORT OPS team discusses team member reviews. Below are some learnings with regards to feedback:

Buffer is famous for their radical transparency. Revenues, salaries, purchase history, it’s all public. They are now taking this a step further. Carolyn Kopprasch, Buffer’s Chief Happiness Officer shares how they are exploring Small Improvements in their quest for ‘transparent performance feedback’.  Continue reading

We’re streamlining our roles & permissions

Roles and permissions in Small Improvements are deliberately simple. We used to get by with 2 roles only: HR Admin for dealing with sensitive data, and regular Admin for access to non-sensitive data plus system administration.

While our intentions were good, the regular Admin role got bloated over time, and was used for entirely separate purposes: On the one hand by IT staff to set up integrations, and on the other hand by HR staff to help managing reviews while not having access to review content. No matter into what camp you fell, you always had “too many” permissions, which is never good from a security perspective.

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We’ll phase out support for Internet Explorer 9 in June 2015

After dealing with a couple of annoying bugs in IE9 recently, and having generally been slowed down by having to support the quirks of IE9,  we’ve decided it’s about time to drop support for this very old browser.

We won’t do this as a big bang right now of course, but starting in June 2015 we’ll not test SI on IE9 anymore and mark that browser as deprecated. End users will see warnings starting in May, and most likely SI won’t work at all with IE9 from August 2015 onwards.

Keep in mind that IE9 was released in March 2011, so it will be over 4 years old by the time we deprecate it, while modern browsers auto-update every 2 months. We simply can’t support IE9 anymore as also some tools we rely on are dropping IE9 support now.

Other major players like Google have stopped supporting IE9 in 2013 already, and even Microsoft will start cracking down on older browsers in January 2016. So we’re in good company. But please do let us know in case you have any major concerns – you can always reach us at support@small-improvements.com.

Postmortem: 2 hours of downtime on October 23rd 2014

We encountered a downtime of roughly 2 hours today. It lasted from about 5:45am to 7:45am CET (8:45pm PST to 10:45pm PST, or 1:45pm to 3:45pm Sydney time).

We’re very sorry for the inconvenience it caused. Here’s what happened and what we’ll improve:

Cause and solution
The problem was that we had exceeded our daily budget for our servers, so the application started failing with a “quota exceeded” exception, resulting in our generic error screen. Increasing the budget was the quick fix to get the servers back up and running.

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