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Early Birds Of A Feather: From CTPs To Waved Rollouts

2c980cd0eb61dab85e0ce3f51675fd21-huge-biWith the recent limited release of a new email marketing designer with role-based permissions, several have asked why only some received the feature out of the gate, and how to be among the first to adopt new developments in Raiser's Edge NXT. Between customer tech previews (CTPs), early adopter programs (EAPs), and waved rollouts, there are plenty of opportunities to play the early bird catching the worm — or (more likely) a possible bug.
Customer tech previews. For some features, your organization may be one of a few hand-picked to try out a new feature on a very limited basis as part of a customer tech preview (CTP). Based on your experience, Blackbaud can learn from your feedback and iterate on the feature's development to help ensure it fits the needs of your organization and others. Since CTPs often include only a very small handful of customers, organizations are picked based on their use of related features or other criteria to help ensure insightful feedback that benefits everyone using Raiser's Edge NXT.

Want to participate in a CTP? Since Blackbaud often picks participants based on their familiarity of Raiser's Edge NXT features, simply continue to use web view features in your everyday processes to be considered when related features come up for a CTP.

Early adopter programs. For other — often larger — features, Blackbaud may need a larger pool of organizations and feedback to work with. While a CTP provides a very limited preview of a feature, an early adopter program (EAP) requires more heavy usage as part of your normal day-to-day activities. EAP participants are expected to use the feature for several hours a week and actively provide feedback based on their experience — including identifying potential bugs or workflows that could be improved — through a special Community or direct conversations with product management.

Want to participate in an EAP? Keep an eye on the Community discussion threads for posts from product managers or user experience designers looking for possible EAP participants. Note that while it's tempting to want to take part in every EAP and enjoy early access to features, remember that each EAP comes with its own time commitment, and there are only so many hours in the day. As you decide whether to participate in an EAP, be sure to consider the feature being tested, any potential gaps that may hinder your use in the short-term, and the estimated weekly time commitments.

Waved rollouts. For major changes to the experience, features built on new technology, or completely new innovations such as the recent email marketing designer, Raiser's Edge NXT may release a feature to customers in incremental waves, rather than to everyone at once. As Product Manager Michele Stender explained, this is largely out of an abundance of caution. Even if a feature has undergone an EAP, a waved rollout enables Blackbaud to:
  • Better gauge its impact on the larger user base based on feedback and analytics
  • Make adjustments to the feature in real-time as any issues arise, without affecting all organizations
  • Continue to release to organizations in additional waves as confidence in the feature builds
Want to catch the initial wave in a rollout? Similar to a CTP, Blackbaud may pick who first receives a feature based on their use of related Raiser's Edge NXT features or other unique requirements to ensure optimal deployment. In other cases, who receives a feature in each wave of a rollout is purely random. For the best odds to be included in an early wave, simply continue to use web view features in your everyday processes to be considered when related features start to roll out. In the meantime, thanks for your interest in new features!
Posted by Steve Stegelin on Jul 18, 2018 8:21 AM America/New_York

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good explanation of your process for testing and rolling out new features
  • Posted Mon 22 Apr 2019 11:33 AM EDT