One month. Just one more month and we leave this crazy year behind. I don’t know about you, but me... well, my wife and I have already started planning what we are going to have for a family dinner on the 31st of December. That’s quite early, considering that there will be just the three of us, including our baby daughter who will hopefully be sleeping the whole night. I do want to celebrate the end of 2020!

Nevertheless, 2020 was a good year for Workshop Butler, at least from the learning perspective. We ran many experiments, failed miserably with direct cold sales, and finally built a small yet very capable team able to move the product forward.

After analyzing our actions and mistakes in the last six months, we looked deeper in order to understand what kind of product and what relationships with our clients we want to create.. Based on that, we formulated five principles that will shape our processes and priorities from this December till at least the end of 2021.


Solving a customer’s problem is the most important task

We are going back to the roots :). Workshop Butler has always been known for its fantastic customer service. Unfortunately, it has degraded over this year partly because of team expansion, and partly because we selected the wrong priorities.

We were aware of that, and we constantly worked on improving the quality of our support and the transparency of what we do. However, we decided to take one step further and make it an official policy for the whole team. You’ll see later in the article how this influenced our approach to work.

If the functionality, requested by customers, is in line with our vision for the product, we deliver it before everything else

Even though we switched our focus to training companies at the beginning of 2020, we didn’t pay enough attention to what our early adopters were saying. We pushed too far with what we believed was important, instead of listening carefully to our clients.

It doesn’t mean we didn’t deliver value to you. I’m just saying that we are going to deliver much more in the upcoming months.

Our customers are our partners

This principle is two-sided. On one side, we understand how challenging it could be running a successful training business can be, especially during this pandemic. As a technology partner, we commit our expertise to make your life easier and your business more successful. As most courses moved online these days, and since many of them won’t be returning offline in the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever to have a good working training management platform, which doesn’t cost you a fortune.

On the other side, we invite our customers to participate more in the development of Workshop Butler, not only by requesting features but by actively collaborating with us in the development of the appearance and functionality of these features.

Existing customers before new clients

We spent three months, from August to November, trying to establish direct sales. We learned so much in the process, that it is really difficult to call this a failure. Yet we got zero sales, had to slow down our development efforts, and temporarily decreased the quality of our service because of the lack of time. So a failure it was in the end :).

None of us are good at direct sales. None of us love the process. We know that referrals and recommendations work way better, especially in the training market. Instead of taking advantage of our strengths we chose the wrong approach and tried to do something we are not good at.

Personally, I finished the experiment with a sour feeling that we exchanged our loyal existing customers to new non-existing ones. Though temporarily, it was a bad feeling.

From now on, we are going to play a different game. We start with existing customers - valuable educational content, product improvements, various collaborations and events. We hope that this approach will bring us more paying customers than simply knocking people out on LinkedIn.

Focused development of “themed” 1.5 - 2 months long increments

Workshop Butler is a product still searching for its product-market fit. We have a number of loyal early adopters who are eager to help us make the product better. At the same time, we didn’t release much in the last three months, and the overall development effort throughout the year was not concentrated. We’re changing that as well.

Our team will work in 1.5-2 months long “themed” increments, putting together features around a certain theme. For example, money collection, registration process or email sequences. We are going to invest about 70% of our time in “themed” tasks. The rest will go to bug fixing, some minor tweaks or small important features which cannot wait for a few months.

During an increment we will continue to deliver new functionality on a daily or weekly basis. No worries here - we are not switching to long development phases.

We expect that this approach will bring more clarity to our clients, make the progress on the product more visible and tangible, and allow us to deliver considerable updates on a regular basis.

These principles touch on all processes inside Workshop Butler. Maybe you’ve already noticed some changes if you have contacted our support recently. One of the areas influenced a lot by them is our roadmap. From changing the priorities based on client requests to themed increments, not only it’s much more clear right now but also extremely customer-oriented.

Product Roadmap

Dec 2020 - Jan 2021, Easy-to-Get Reviews

One feature that people love in Workshop Butler is the ability to convert attendees’ feedback into reviews with just one click. We also talked to many customers and found out that reviews on your website are the main driving force behind increasing the number of registrations.

Unfortunately, there are limitations preventing some clients from using our feedback forms, UX issues making the process of feedback-to-review conversion difficult, and other issues. During this increment, we are going to remove all known obstacles and make the process of collecting and displaying reviews from students as effortless as possible.

The most important features of this increment are:

  • Removal of Approval step for some (not all!) evaluations
  • Customizable feedback form
  • Better review management inside Workshop Butler
  • Reviews on integrated event pages
  • Improved design for website integrations

Feb - Mar 2021, Payments

We will focus on making the payment process easier to configure and use.

The most important features of this increment are:

  • Support for PayPal
  • Discounts
  • Refunds
  • Correct representation of tax amount

Mar - Apr 2021,  Multisession Events

Regardless of whether the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna can bring the pandemic under control or not, online workshops will stay. We didn’t make urgent changes this year as we wanted to see how training companies and trainers would organize their online classes. Now we’re ready to move.

The most important features of this increment are:

  • Support for sessions in events
  • Ability to track students from session to session
  • Ability to register to various sessions

May - June 2021, Learning Journeys

Both certification brands and training companies will be able to create a learning journey for students, combining various modules and defining the rules of the journey (which modules are required and optional, what certifications and badges students get after the completion of several modules, etc).

I expect that Learning Journeys will take more time than we anticipate now. It’s okay. We’re ready for this :).

Of course, these increments themselves are an experiment too. We cannot guarantee right now that we will deliver everything from the roadmap on time. After all, the roadmap is just our assumption of how things will play out.

If you’re excited about the whole roadmap or some particular themes, hit us up so we can discuss with you how to make the next step more valuable for you. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them via email.