We're starting 2022 with the same goal for Beacon that we've always had: To build the best nonprofit database in the world.
Despite a 2021 almost as strange as 2020, the past 12 months have been an exciting time for the Beacon product team. We've been really busy and we've released lots of exciting features.
More importantly, we've had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, some remarkable organisations doing really great work in challenging times. It's a privilege to get to work with so many great customers and to shape Beacon with their suggestions.
Two of our guiding values are that we are constantly innovating and we strive to do what we do better than anyone else in the world. In 2022 we'll be putting those values into practice as we work even harder to improve the Beacon product.
Here's a taste of what we're going to be working on over the next year:
1. New timelines
Timelines are getting an overhaul. This feature allows you to see a record's changes and activities over time. We're going to make some important changes:
- Make timelines filterable - you'll be able to find events across different records, or search for all updates made by a user
- Select activity types - only want to see the audit logs of a record? Only want to see the forms submitted by this person? Not a problem.
- More activities logged to timelines - Including document merges and emails sent from mailchimp
- Improved interface - with more features comes an updated timeline interface to handle it all
- Import and export from timelines - all the import/export goodness you've come to expect from Beacon
2. Investing in infrastructure
We've had our fair share of infrastructure challenges this year. As Beacon grows and as the demands of our systems increase it's important that we're way ahead of our own growth in terms of infrastructure. Downtime isn't ok, and we'll be making continued updates to make sure Beacon's systems are healthy and zippy. This includes migrating our main database to a brand new kind of highly scalable database at the cutting edge of Amazon's AWS offering.
3. Forms improvements
We have a list of requests for updates to forms that is as long as my arm, and with the big plans that we have for 2022, we see Beacon forms being used by hundreds more organisations. We'll be investing considerable time in a wide range of improvements to forms to keep them bang up to date and looking and working beautifully.
4. Families and relationships
We'll be improving the way that Beacon handles two-way relationships between records. This will make it easier to configure relationships between people and to filter based on those relationships.
5. Record-level Roles and Permissions
Our Roles and Permissions system is a great security feature which allows you to grant access to different features, record types, and fields in Beacon. This year we'll be taking this system a step further to enable you to restrict access to specific records. This is useful if you have some records which you want to share with your volunteers, or if you want to make sure that your team members only have access to information about people whose cases they are working on.
This year our customer success team released our first comprehensive Beacon tutorials. We'll be adding more to this and making it easier than ever to get your team trained up with using Beacon. We call the whole thing 'Beacon Lighthouse', and it's going to be awesome.
7. Continuing to improve integrations and automation
Before founding Beacon David and Chris were senior managers at integrations startup Tray.io. We understand the importance of automation and integration in the future of organisations better than anyone.
Sometimes we'll integrate with another best-in-class product (like Mailchimp, Stripe, and Zettle) but, as with Beacon's ticketing platform, we also develop features in-house when we think that is the best approach.
Our Zapier integration and import templates provide a generic mechanism for integrating with other tools but we're also working on some more direct integrations:
Aditionally, we'll be making improvements to what is possible with Beacon Workflows, so that you can automate more of your work and make your processes more efficient.
8. Bulk emailing from within Beacon
Something to get really excited about! We have been exploring ways in which emails can be sent in bulk directly from Beacon. It's important to realise that products like Mailchimp are challenging to emulate (indeed, Mailchimp was sold for $12 Billion this year!) but we think there is a lot of value that we could add by enabling simple, elegant emails to be sent to multiple people directly from Beacon.
We're always looking to improve based on your feedback. If there's a big feature you'd like to see that isn't in this list then let us know!