Product change rollout philosophy

@Ealfardan Your example is yet another example of why the developer should consult with the users and get feedback before making major changes as there are so many businesses have different requirements.

I keep hoping that the developer will eventually realise that he needs a feedback panel forum and a development and stable version to avoid frustrating his customers like this. While this particular change works well for me, I can understand that it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.


Concerning the disruption in bookkeeping as a result of major changes like this, I think what we can do as users is NOT TO UPDATE our main usage software UNTIL we are COMPLETELY COMFORTABLE with the new CHANGES. Or have a trial setup on another machine or test system before we TOTALLY MIGRATE. As is still work-in-progress, the developer will keep adding and subtracting from the software, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, there isn’t MUCH USER ENGAGEMENT before some of these MAJOR CHANGES are made. So let’s device deployment means favourable to us as users of such as the one I have suggested, test run new updated software on a separate system before migrating your bookkeeping processes to it or simply WAIT until you are completely sure it’s STABLE to use.

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@Daniel_Arthur I also do a test update before updating the live machine. But I disagree that this should be necessary. The developer needs to understand that he needs to engage with his users before making changes like these. I personally agree with the latest changes, but obviously it has caused a lot of problem for other users who use the payments and receipts differently from the way that myself and obviously the developer uses them.

Manager is a fantastic product, reliable, easy to use and in the main it is clear that the developer puts a lot of effort into thinking how he wants the product to move forward. But unfortunately until he understands the need for a feedback panel and a development and stable track he is going to continue to lurch from one PR disaster to the next, and end up losing people who get tired of constant disruption to their book keeping program. It is a shame, because bad experiences like this for some users ends up giving Manager a very bad review as result, when it is in fact an excellent product.

Poor communication is the main reason why so many businesses fail unfortunately. You have got to involve your customers and listen to them if you want to retain them. Hopefully he will eventually learn the value of a feedback panel before implementing changes and having a development track where changes like these are trialed out before public release into the stable version.


Perfectly agree with you @dalacor

That is very deep and accurate, and applicable to more than just the manager design model.

In my opinion Manager has far more user feedback than almost any other product I can think of. As a result Lubos has a better understanding of users ideas than most other software products.

The critical thing to observe though is there is not just one user and one option. As a result there is not a solution to any of the software ideas which has full user support.

In my opinion the issue is not that the developer does not engage with user, it is the reverse, he engages so much that users believe they are in control of software development goals and priorities. Has anyone had any success telling MYOB how and when they should change their product?

A supplier has to listen and understand their customer base. Businesses priority and development targets are set be business owners and management though.

The forum is a feedback panel. I assume Lubos listen/ reads most users views. I also assume he develops greater respect for some than other (as I assume most readers do). I would be surprised if any one user or panel had the power to veto or otherwise control development.

So I am some what skeptical about a user software development panel. Who chooses membership? Besides the mods already effectively have such a panel.

I don’t think any user here feels they are in control. Do you feel in control?

I think users have their data and use it in a way that manager works for them and most commonly without any consultation, that changes. The only case in recent history (as it apples to examples of what I use) I’ve seen where the developer asked for feedback was on the general ledger engine changes, at which time I was busy running a business and so didn’t see it. And then it broke for me and others.

The only two times I’ve seen reversals of changes is in relation to this precise thread and a year or two ago when he was changing the approach to the application folder and even involved AWS into the game. And it was only because he has received so much feedback that those decisions to reverse were made. TBH, I’m not sure why he reversed this one, it didn’t appear that major to me, but it obviously was to others, because that’s how they use manager.

If he had of consulted and asked for feedback at the time, he may not have gone down those paths to begin with.

But more importantly, I would like for there to be a stable and a development branch, and things don’t progress to stable until adequate users have provided suitable feedback and improvements made in metered “upgrades” instead of trickling them out in this manner. That way irregular forum users, cloud users, and unwary upgraders won’t get caught out by these nightly builds.


You have completely misunderstood my post. Manager compared to say MYOB has quite a lot of interaction between the developer and the users of the product. I am in full agreement with you on this point. The developer is a very active user of the forum and I would suspect reads most topics if not all. Yes he engages with his users quite a lot. No argument from me!

I am also in agreement with you that the developer has a better understanding of the product from a user’s viewpoint that most companies. Again agreed.

I also believe that in the main the product is very well designed as it has very few (if any bugs), is so simple to use and is very reliable - no crashing, performance is excellent etc.

None of these points are in dispute.

I never said that I or any other user expects full agreement in any area and it’s never been the case (generally) where one person expects the product to be changed just for their special use. This is not what I said. I disagree that the problem is that users believe that they are in control of the software development goals and priorities. It has long been a complaint amongst users that there is no roadmap in place and we have no idea when (or even if) any idea will ever be implemented. Secondly, it has been complained that new features seem to be implemented in a very haphazard manner with no bearing on what would make the biggest difference to users (such as batch printing for example).

The forum is being used as a feedback panel and yes I will grant you that the developer listens to feedback very carefully after rolling out a new feature. But my point is that this is not the way to roll out new features and program updates. The problem is that more than once the developer has released an update without warning which caused a lot of problems for many users (many of whom are not wanting to be guinea pigs), with the result that he had a lot of complaints by frustrated users. This is completely unnecessary. Instead of rolling out an update to everyone - it actually makes sense to roll it out to a small group of people who are happy to have a copy of their business imported into the beta version, so that they can provide feedback on how the changes affect their businesses.

Then the developer at his leisure, can tweak the program accordingly to address any concerns raised by the feedback panel before releasing it to a stable version. I see no logic in releasing an update to every single user and then having to deal with lots of users complaining about missing information or incorrect information etc etc. All I (and other people have been asking for) is to have a stable track released to the public and a development track released to people who wish to participate in using the beta version to provide feedback on new features. The problem is that nobody can think of all ramifications of how a new feature would affect every business. That’s why you ask other people. I want to him to get feedback on a new feature before releasing to the public, not after!

I am a big fan of the developer as I think that he has a great product and he does engage quite a lot with his users. But this does not negate the fact that many companies like Mozilla and Microsoft for example have a beta version and stable version - where insiders can choose to use the beta versions and provide feedback to Mozilla and Microsoft. This is why I say he doesn’t listen, because this point has been raised quite a few times. He seems to have a blind spot on this point and I have lost count of how many times an update has caused one user or another grief over the last few years and it does cause a loss of confidence in Manager.

The posts in this topic have been moved here because they are not specifically relevant to the discussion of changes to receipts and payments. It’s fine to have this discussion, but in its own place.

This would be great to implement.
Another big problem is the inability to roll back versions. Surely if there are no changes to the actual database structure itself this would be possible?

Yes, I’m agreed that to release only stable version.
If you need community help for alpha testing, allow users to give alpha release url to test with their own business case
it will be better for both

In the last “Manager Product Updates” the developper wrote:

• The program temporarily includes two versions of the Dutch Concept BTW Aangifte report transformation. The original version remains for continuity. The new version is available for testing to confirm it remedies problems reported with the old one. Feedback should be provided on the Forum

This I think is proof of listening to users. I have tested this “experimental report” and I have reported my findings / conclusions / recommandations to the developper. I don’t know if other users did the same, but it is anyway a step forward. Both in the approach of a problem and hopefully a solution for the problems. Anyway I am very hopeful.

Sometimes the developper has to decide what is good for us and what not. You simply can’t keep everybody happy. We have a way of discussing things in the Netherlands. It is called “the poldermodel”. Things are discussed very broadly with all kinds of (possible) stakeholders. Quite a nice model when you reach concensus, but it leads to very long discussions and it is very time comsuming. Please let’s avoid this…

  • Ensure you have backups of any data files you value

  • Uninstall your current version of Manager

  • Install an older version of Manager

  • Try opening a copy of your data files or a copy of your backups

Yes, BUT, what about all the transactions that have occurred in between versions.
I do keep one or two previous versions along with file backups taken before updating.
The problem is when, after five days of use, I discover something is broken or not working the way it was, I then have to roll back to the previously saved version and re-enter all transactions that were entered in between.
This was a HUGE problem recently for me with the changes to the GL transactions report which I print out monthly. I had no way of recovering over a months worth of transactions by rolling back and I should not have to go through and try out every aspect of the program after updating to make sure it still does what I expect it to.
Also, one of the things that gets thrown at you when you ask questions here is “You are several versions behind, update to the current version and check again”. I have never yet been able to open a file from a later version on an earlier version, so if updating is done you are are stuck with going through everything you can think of to see if the later version actually fixes your problem or even works properly.
I would rather spend my time in my business than stuffing around with an accounting program.

Did you try opening a copy of your current data file with an slightly older version of Manager which has the specific feature you wanted to retain?

It worked for me.

At the time the problem occurred I tried but it did not work.
But even so, to get help here you are always told "You are several versions behind, update to the current version and check again” so what’s the point?

Of more concern is what happens if for any reason the developer can not continue. Without some wider trusted development team there is a great risk that at some point in time there will be no changes made even when times and needs change. As it is not easy to migrate away to another application I realize that I am stuck to whatever is implemented here. As such I also sympathize with those that ask for better communication about the risks when updating code or asking for changes o improve the use (is what this forum is for). No one wants to loose years of accounting data by software that at some point may become obsolete as roadmaps and continuity planning are not clear.

@Hennie The inclusion of the two versions of the Dutch Concept report is about the only time that I am aware of when the developer has done something like this - apart from the old and new custom reports forms. What he did there was a good idea. He released the new feature, whilst keeping the old one and asked users for feedback on how it works in real use.

I think in those two particular cases he wasn’t sure how it would work and required users to provide him with feedback. It wasn’t so much a question of him listening to users, but rather because he couldn’t proceed further without input from customers. However, it is pointless to debate this point as we don’t know and it’s not really germane to the discussion anyway.

I am not expecting the developer to keep everyone happy and secondly, I don’t think that he needs to discuss every single change with users as you are quite right that it would end up in very long discussions and be very time consuming. I work in IT and I have the same issue. I don’t consult with my clients about every single change I made, because I would never get anything done as result.

But there are times when implementing a new feature that it makes sense to have input from customers before rolling it out to all users.

For example the following changes caused a lot of frustrations to users when these changes were just implemented without warning!

  1. Changing the summary page from the old format to the new format - The developer had to spend quite a lot of time resolving all the various complaints from users about the new layout. I still agree with a lot of people that the loss of aged payments and receivables was a step backwards and I am still waiting for this to be brought back! I really hope that the developer brings aged payables/receivables back as this is information that should be on the Summary Page.

  2. Changing tax from debit/credit to payments and receipts - You yourself were affected by this issue and when it comes to tax records, the developer really has to be including end users in the decision making process. You cannot alter previous tax records in the program so it not longer matches the figures that you submitted in previous years. I am hoping that the new solution (which I thought was quite clever) has fixed your problems, but I submit that this whole angst was entirely unnecessary. The discussion should have been had before rolling out the changes, not afterwards. One user actually updated the program just hours before he was due a meeting with his accountant to discuss his accounts. Not good at all. I would have been furious as I don’t need accounting problems hours before going to my accountant.

  3. Linking customers and suppliers to payments and receipts. - I personally am very happy with this feature, but @Tut was hopping mad about this, because he doesn’t use customers and suppliers and he quite rightly pointed out that not every business works the same way. In point of fact, Tut made the exact point that I am trying to make here. Every business works differently, which is why the developer needs a feedback panel to see how new changes will affect all businesses, not just how he would have the business setup. As Tut said, every business is different so you cannot apply a one size fits all solution like expecting all businesses to use clients and suppliers in order to put a payee or payer in the field on the payment/receipt forms. Again this angst would have been avoided with a feedback panel forum.

  4. Adding three new tabs in relation to bank and cash accounts - The changes here could really have benefited from feedback from users before implementation. Many people are not convinced that the current design is optimal. We have lost functionality that was in previous designs and now have more tabs as result. I actually made a post somewhere where I provided a solution to amalgamate a lot of these extra tabs into fewer tabs whilst still retaining all the information. The implementation of this could be a lot better in my opinion. Bank reconciliations I understand had functionality in it that was lost when the new design came out. I speak under correction, but this has still not been addressed.

My suggestion of having a development/stable track would simply mean that discussions would take place on the forum as they have always done, but the difference would be that users would not be upset that their live business accounts have been altered. The new features would be implemented on the development track and any users who wishes to join in the development track beta basically has their live business on the stable track and a copy of their live business on the development track. This means that their live business is safe and they have a chance to provide feedback on new features rolled out onto the development track without getting annoyed because they have lost information or whatever on the live business. Also it would ensure that only people who wish to contribute to the discussions are involved instead of having users who just use the program having to login and complain that they have lost something as a result of the update. The current design makes every user (paying or otherwise) a guinea pig in the development process. The vast majority of users just want to use the program - they don’t want to be on the forum discussing Manager feature changes. This factor needs to be considered. I enjoy being on the forum discussing Manager, but I use a lot of programs and I don’t want to be on the forum for every program that I use to discuss development of it.

Mozilla, Microsoft etc all have insider rings or beta testers. Why does Manager development not recognise the benefits of having a development track that allows new features to be provided feedback on before those changes are rolled onto the stable track. It would make no difference to the amount of discussion because we already discuss all the changes to Manager on the forum anyway. The difference would be that the changes we are discussing would be on the development track not on our live businesses! We could provide feature improvement feedback before rolling out to live, not after!

As for @Patch asking who chooses the membership - it would work the same way as Microsoft and Mozilla and other companies do it. Users can opt to join the development track. Nobody chooses who is on this panel. All users who want to participate can join. The key point is that you have your live business on the stable track and also have it on the development track - I am not exactly sure how the developer would get that to work, but that to me makes brilliant sense so you don’t have to keep exporting and importing your business between the stable version and the development track.

I really hope that we get a live and development track soon as well as a roadmap!

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Yes, it has, in version 20.8.44.

Ok I have not seen the changes because I have not updated since July. I am waiting on Lubos to fix the issue with customers and suppliers showing in the contact field on the new payments/receipts instead of in the new payee/payer fields that have been created. Otherwise I will need to do some kind of find and recode operation.

I am looking forward to seeing these options for Bank reconciliation because that functionality was lost before I started using Bank Recon.