Looking back on 2016, I am really happy to note that we achieved nearly everything we planned and a bit more! We released a whole bunch of new features, rebuilt our cloud platform, launched the Schools product, redesigned the portal, setup the foundation and worked hard on community engagement. Clearly this was a great year for ERPNext, where we focused on making a solid base for the future.
In 2017, we will be two organizations, Frappé (the company) and ERPNext Foundation (non profit). Since ERPNext is an open source product, we truly believe that it should be community driven. And at the end of 2016, we seem to be getting there!
Goals for the Foundation
1. Setup Memberships and Operations
We need to setup the website for the foundation and start accepting memberships. We also need to figure out what do we offer in return of the memberships and mechanisms for spending and resource allocation. Maybe for the first year, we should have a voluntary committee that will decide on the roadmap based on suggestions from the community. As we grow, this could be tweaked.
Other than the activities that are directly managed via the foundation, the foundation must also back, provide a structure for other community oriented events and fund raisers, like the upcoming mini Conference in Frankfurt and facilitate bounties, crowd sourcing initiatives etc. Maybe there could be a sub committee in the foundation that deals with outreach and community activities.
3. Drive Contributions
An open source project truly succeeds if there are contributions from many many people. Wikipedia is an excellent example. An ERP system too has a large number of features for which expertise may be available with anyone in the community. The foundation must encourage contributions either by giving out awards, grant responsibilities or other such mechanisms.
The foundation will also drive the current community.erpnext.com portal, which will soon be renamed as erpnext.org. This portal should become the single resource point for all activities like membership management, job listings, service provider listings, blogs, training articles, etc.
5. Conduct Training
Developers take the product forward and the more number of developers we can train on the platform, the better the growth will be for everyone. More than 60 participants signed up for the training session we conducted with the conference in October, so there is clearly a demand for this. The foundation should plan training events all over the world with the help of members, and facilitate by helping in publicity, providing trainers, manage ticketing etc.
Goals for Frappé
Now that we have a separation of the product and our SAAS / Cloud business, we should focus on growing the subscriber base.
Having X number of companies or paid users has never been our goal so far. Maybe it was because, we realized that ERP is a huge product and it is important that it goes through a maturity cycle before thinking of growth. Even today we are in two minds on growth. Are we there yet? We will never really find out unless we try. So here is the big hairy goal for 2017
3,000 Paid Subscribers!
That seems a pretty ambitious goal of more than 5X from our current base of (400+) but if we look various SAAS companies, this seems pretty achievable (Shopify does 150,000+!). There are whole playbooks on how to covert companies to paid customers and we have not even gotten started. Here are some pointers:
- Search Optimization: Adding pages to the website, more targeted content for search results.
- Search Ads: Drive traffic to the new pages with new keywords.
- Better linking within the pages. We now have three great assets (erpnext.com, documentation, forum) that we can use to drive traffic internally.
- Better emails: Emails bring users back to the product, they can be so much better.
- Building partnerships: Our reseller platform is ready for launch. Now the community has a direct incentive for driving traffic to erpnext.com
- Better support: We already have a great support team and most users are very happy with the quality of support we provide. There is always opportunity to improve the responsiveness and quality of replies. Maybe we can also add chat support. This will drive more users to sign up.
- More outreach: Reach out to blogs and customers to write about their ERPNext experience.
- Focus on conversions from Free to Paid: There are a lot of active free accounts, educate them on the benefits of paid subscriptions.
- Better analytics: Use analytics to identify where users drop off and how to avoid any obvious leakages.
- More content: More blogs, videos and updated documentation maintain user engagement!
Goals for the Team
We have a really great team in place and should be able to achieve 5X growth without adding significant team members. The goal for the team should be that we should be able to afford first world salaries for all of us. We have already lost a couple of developers to the first world, and considering the fact that you can live a very happy and comfortable life in India with a first world salary, this seems like a no-brainer.
I hope this motivates all of us to do what we really can do. Make an awesome product and community that makes all of us proud and happy!