At Tigerpaw Software, the customer is not only king, but is now actively involved in the design process.
That change to the design process, even more so than the new features, was the signature element of Tigerpaw’s new version 11 release, which it unveiled last week at its’ user conference in Dallas — the company’s first in its’ 26 years of existence. The software vendor makes a suite of tools that manages, automates and integrates service, CRM, inventory, sales, marketing, purchasing, workflow, and accounting.
“We’ve done this for 25 years, and in the past with every new release it has always been about how many features you can jam in,” said James Foxall, president of Tigerpaw. “We design great software, but what we missed in the past was a real understanding of the customers’ business and what they wanted.
Tigerpaw addressed that by integrating its’ Customer Advisory Group into the design of the new feature set through web-based meeting software, to help determine the best-practices used to address issues from a business perspective.
“Because the customers helped design the software, we built things we would never have built in the past — like a back button — which customers said they really wanted because it makes daily use easier. This let us design what customers needed and wanted, not what we thought they needed and wanted. That’s why Version 11 to us is so monumental.”
This input was key in the redesign of a completely new user interface that stresses usability. Tabs let you open multiple documents like accounts, quotes, service orders, and invoices at the same time just like in Internet Explorer. Many windows in Tigerpaw have been combined to make it easier to find and work with related data. Other interface enhancements include the back (and forward) buttons and a true history list for each tab.
“Letting multiple technicians be on a single ticket is another thing customers asked us for,” Foxall said. “A column next to the task flags shows the amount of time they spent, and how much of that time is billable. Anyone who has touched the ticket now shows up with a summary of what they have done. This would not have happened in the old style of we built things, where we built how we think you need it and you can test it later on.”
Tigerpaw’s relationship with the channel is somewhat unusual in that while VARs do not play a major role in selling the product, they are a key part of Tigerpaw’s customer base. While the company experimented with a channel sales model in the last decade, it didn’t last.
“The channel option wasn’t effective for us, although we do have an affiliate program,” Foxall said. “We are very much a relationship sell. Our meat and potatoes is selling to the end user. ”
By far their largest verticals are the telecom space and the IT VAR space — two verticals Foxall sees as increasingly converging — with secondary verticals like point-of-sale being much smaller.
“VARs are our customers,” he said. “They use us to run their VAR business.”
Apart from the user interface redesign, the new features include overhauled dashboards, greatly expanded ability to set up filters, and an improved workflow engine and email analytics engine.
Tigerpaw 11 remains a traditional on-premise fat client without a cloud option, which Foxall said suits their clients.
“Most of our customers are technology pushers, who may well sell cloud services but don’t want it themselves. It’s the one person shop that wants it in the cloud, not the 5 and 10 person shops. This hasn’t been a challenge for us. It’s something we keep an eye on so we don’t get left in the dust, but right now it’s not a big challenge.
“Tigerpaw is going through a rebirth and it’s a new and exciting time for us,” Foxall said. “We had our first user conference last week, with over 300 people and all vendor sponsors sold out. The convergence theme is key for us, and you will see a different and more visible Tigerpaw going forward.”