Arjen Robben Sprint

Coworking spaces and why they rock (& Sprint Report 5!)

Rik Visser Lean Startup, Software Project Management, Sprint

Even though it’s only been two days since our last post (about the upcoming Online Dispute Resolution Conference in The Hague), we felt it was time to catch you up on all the cool stuff our designers and developers have been working on. As always I don’t only want to brag about the great things the team has made, I will also give a short overview of how we work.

This week I want to talk about where we work: WeWork and coworking spaces in general. (Last time was all about communication within FastPortal, using tools like BitBucket and Slack!)

Coworking and WeWork: what is it & why does FastPortal believe in it?

Let me quote Wikipedia for the what: WeWork is an American company which provides shared workspace, community, and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and small businesses. […] As of December 2015, WeWork had 54 coworking locations in across the U.S., Europe and Israel. […] WeWork designs and builds physical and virtual communities in which entrepreneurs share space and office services and have the opportunity to work together. The company’s 30,000+ members have access to health insurance, an internal social network, social events and workshops, and an annual summer retreat.”

Rik & Falco at coworking space WeWork Amsterdam

I’m the guy in the white shirt! The guy in blue is friend-of-FastPortal Falco Tibben!

As for the why:

  • The philosophy of coworking aligns very nicely with our aim to bring cocreation between client and service provider to tradtional service providers.
  • Mostly everything is arranged for us: internet, cleaning, furniture, coffee, meeting rooms, beer (yup, really) and iced water all come with the membership. That means we only need to bring our ideas and laptops.
  • The high density of inspiring, impressive and knowledgeable people: WeWork attracts like-minded individuals from many different disciplines. That makes it easy to connect with people at the coffee machines and other communal spaces. Those connections have lead to customers, advice & collaborators.
  • Flexibility: some days we need a meeting room around the clock and at other times we only need it for an hour a week. Likewise, we might have two people working at our Amsterdam office or five. And who knows, maybe we will have twenty by the end of the year? The flexible facilities and contracts allow us to scale up, down or sideways at any time.
  • Great place to receive visitors. It is great that we have a wide variety of meeting rooms. We can go very formal for the first meeting with a large law firm or very casual for a catch up with one of our investors.

So is everything perfect? Nope, but close enough. At times WeWork Metropool can feel a little sterile and formal. Coworking here isnt (yet) as strong as it is at the Weteringschans building. Also, having to renegotiate contracts every couple of months is a bit of a hassle. I think the basic price is simply too high considering the very limited amount of space you get per desk. And certain basic facilities are not in order all the time (no clean mugs, hand towels in the bathrooms, window blinds not working). Overall, though, these are small inconvencies considering all that we get out of it. And I have faith that these things will be sorted out quickly by the motivated team here at Metropool.

Long story short. A concept like WeWork takes the hassle out of so many anciliary tasks that I would otherwise have to spend time on, that I have more time to focus on building a great product for our customers and their clients.

Sprint Report

What I wrote last time is still true: we’re secretly working on a few very cool (and big) features that we will only announce when they’re really done. A lot of our development capacity has again gone into those things. As a result this sprint report does not really represent all of the things Maxim & Theodor have been doing.

Primary Features: Improved the Payment Workstep & Subclients

We updated our payment workstep to not only look a whole lot better, but also to have much more functionality. Team members now get the option to check or alter an automatically generated invoice prior to sending it.

Paid Invoice!

But that isn’t all! It is now possible to make an existing client a subclient of someone else. This is great for, for instance, tax advisors who do someone’s personal taxes as well as his company’s taxes. Those two accounts can now be linked, so that the client only has to login a single time. Much more convenient!

Other features & fixes:

  • It is now possible to add a workstep to allow a client or employee to rename a started workflow;
  • We made a lot of buttons look better;
  • A nasty little bug related to previewing documents was fixed;
  • Employees can now skip (but not complete) the approval workstep;
  • A handful of cosmetic fixes to the month old dossier page (responsive takes time);
  • We updated our terms and conditions in the application;
  • Some tweaks to how invoices look;
  • It’s possible (again) to agree grant approval in a task after having previously disagreed without intervention from an employee;
  • It is now clearer in the timeline when a task was skipped rather than completed;
  • The link to get to our API documentation from the Portal Settings was broken. Now it isn’t.

Suggestions?

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve FastPortal, please let us know. Just send us an email at support@fastportal.com or stop by our offices at WeWork Metropool in Amsterdam (The address is Weesperstraat 61, but please call ahead so we can make sure we can have your favorite drink ready for you!)