While customers only see the marketing pieces prior to a software release, the gears of the development release cycle are working well in advance of that. Customer feedback, an essential part of the release cycle, is continually gathered from our support center with every call they take. These requests are then logged into a database for tracking purposes and reviewed each release cycle. Requests are ranked in terms of demand, significance and scope. Items that have more customers attached are likely to be ranked higher.
The customer feedback is discussed along with requests from dental key opinion leaders. Our marketing, sales, training, support and development teams then work together to develop a final release plan that will satisfy the needs of our customers. This meeting is likely to happen as early as a year or more in advance of the general release for customers.
After the final plan is put together, the engineering and quality assurance teams begin development and testing of the new features, which is followed by the beta testing period. Our software is tested thoroughly before going out to any customers. This includes each new feature as well as the software as a whole. New and existing features are tested inside and out. The beta process can vary in both length and size depending on the scope of the release. The more features added or changed, the longer and larger (in terms of customers) the beta period can be.
Our participating beta site customers are fundamental to the entire process of software development. Each of these customers uses the software in their own unique way to uncover any inconsistencies not found by our own quality assurance team. They also provide unequivocal feedback on the new features or changes in terms of benefits and implementation.
As the development team takes care of wrapping up the beta period for each release, we hand the torch over to our support team. Prior to customer shipments being sent, the support team is fully trained on all features that were added or enhanced for this release cycle. By the time this version starts shipping to the masses, it’s time once again to begin reviewing the database of customer feedback to start the entire cycle again.