It seems like a lifetime ago since our last update on Avanti 5, indeed the world has changed incredibly in that time. It's been a difficult and challenging time for everyone over these last six months, especially for small businesses. Like all businesses, we have not been immune to the effects of recent events and all of our plans have been affected. With that being said we are committed to delivering on all of the plans we have previously announced. While there is lots to talk about and news to inform you of, let's focus on the long awaited Avanti 5 in this post.
Let's start at the beginning of the Avanti 5 story. As we've posted about here previously, in early 2018 we began development of our next-generation Cloud business system, Aspire. Our original plans were that this would take approximately 20-24 months to complete. It became pretty obvious very quickly into that process that to have any chance of meeting this ambitious timescale that we had throw everything behind it - and that meant ceasing all development on the core Avanti product, at least until Aspire came online. We took a calculated risk that if we could deliver Aspire by early 2020, Avanti V4 could hold it's own over the next couple of years. Things didn't quite pan out that way!
Something called Making Tax Digital suddenly entered the scene in the midst of all of this. In the interests of being completely honest with you, we have to eat some humble pie to explain this, it's as painful and embarrassing to re-live it in a blog post as it was at the time. The truth is we were left completely wrong-footed with our heads down in our next generation system. We'd focussed on it to the point where we no longer had the people to even pick up the product & implement MTD into Avanti. We stumbled, made a couple of missteps, trusted people who let us down and in September 2019 found ourselves in no-mans land. No end in sight for Aspire and no MTD or updates for Avanti. It looked bleak and it needed a fresh look and a fresh approach and to do that we first of all had to start with being completely honest with ourselves. With the best will and intentions in the world, we had to admit that we'd messed up! To begin putting things right we had to go back and make things right with the core Avanti product and deliver for our customers. We bit the bullet, brought on new people and developed a stategy to start developing Avanti and make it our priority again - after all it's what pays the bills around here!
A strategy and a plan for Avanti was developed and we got to work. We didn't just want to build in a few new features or even just implement MTD, we wanted to make a pivotal shift in how Avanti operated. As long-time customers had grown with the system and new customers were putting heavy demands on the software, the system was creaking under the weight of massive datasets and heavy usage. To sum up, Avanti simply wasn't performing at scale and we needed to finally address this. So we started the work of completely rearchitecting how the software operated under-the-hood and how it handled large datasets.
I don't think any of us realised what a job we were in for, refactoring hundreds of thousands of lines of code, written over a decade, to work differently and more efficiently whilst plugging into the same, familar user interface that was beloved by our customers was a task way bigger than we could possibly have envisioned. Like most great works, if we'd known then what we'd have to go through to achieve it or how long it would take, we probably would never have started it! It's a tough job to invest time, money and energy into something with no obvious visible benefit - of course if you consider that speed, performance and scalability are all features then we've probably just added the best and greatest new features in Avanti's history!
Avanti also includes some hugely requested new features including Component Assemblies and Back-To-Back Orders, improvements to SOP, search tags and many more enhancements that we're sure you'll be happy to see and make use of.
So the next obvious question is WHEN? Well we're now in the final stages of internal testing so we're almost there. We'll make the preview/pre-release available to everyone as soon as possible and we'll work on the feedback from that. We'll then announce an official release date but we're not quite there yet - it's important, with the huge changes involved, that we get this right. We appreciate your patience and ask you to just bear with us a little longer. However we will be releasing more content and videos about Avanti 5 very shortly to prepare for it's release. So keep a look out for those.
To finish off let's talk about some of the other things that are in the pipeline. What about Aspire I hear you ask? It's still very much in the works and it's looking great. Once Avanti 5 is out-of-the-door and working for customers, we're going to be making decisions about it's release strategy. Aspire is a mammoth project, very rarely is something like this undertaken by a small software firm without outside funding, so we're very proud of what's being achieved. Our original plan was to release once it has full feature-parity with the core Avanti software but, with Avanti being developed again, that's a moving target and unlikely to be hit in the short/medium term. We'd welcome your feedback on this but we're leaning toward tying up what we already have done and releasing it earlier, gaining market attention, feedback and traction and develop from there. As we've announced previously Aspire is not just "Avanti in the cloud", it is a fundamentally different offering, developed from the ground-up as a next generation Cloud business solution and ERP - not just as the next generation of Avanti. With that said there will obviously be a data migration path from Avanti to Aspire for existing customers who want to move to a Cloud solution. We will publish more posts about Aspire in the coming months once we're clear on a strategy for it's release.
As a last piece of news, I want to mention a technology we've been working on to compliment the Avanti desktop/on-premise software. We call this Cloudflow and it's a service to help "cloudify" your existing Avanti system so you can utilise a web app to access your On-Premise Avanti data when working remotely. We'll discuss this in future posts and we're going to make this service available for preview in the weeks immediately following the release of Avanti 5 so keep an eye out.
Finally we'd like to say a huge and heart-felt Thank You to all of our customers who have stuck with us during these last few years during which news and updates have been a little thin-on-the-ground. We're going to be changing all of that in the last 3rd of 2020 and into 2021. Keep an eye on your Inbox and our YouTube channel (and of course here on our blog) for more info coming up. Thanks again :)
* This post includes a forward-looking statement regarding product update timescales. Please note that all such statements are provided as present estimates only and, until final release, are subject to change.