Update (December, 2015): BizDox has been acquired by ConnectWise
Founder Ricky Phipps came to Tecture with an idea and a few sketches. As a former IT service provider and well-known industry consultant, the problem was clear to him: IT documentation was hard for service providers. It was never done consistently, it was always outdated, and it could not be relied upon. Yet, everyone in the industry knew that documentation was vital.
Phipps set out to create and launch BizDox, which was to be a simple and secure way for IT service providers to create, maintain, and visualize documentation for their clients.
“We immediately recognized that BizDox was a tremendous idea. Not only would Ricky’s vision automate the most tedious parts of the process, it would also help users document the stuff that really matters most, through its proprietary applications database. Best of all, it connects everything in a way that isn’t possible with existing solutions, and empowers IT to help business owners make smarter decisions. Truly great stuff.” – Ben Rowland, Founder, Tecture
The challenges were many, however. There was a good reason this had never been done before, despite a very clear need for it across the industry: the sheer number of different types of things that could be documented in any given environment, and the variety of ways in which those things can be configured made the task daunting to represent and visualize in a web app.
Phipps engaged Tecture to help him bring BizDox to life. Tecture immersed themselves in the problem and fleshed out detailed wireframes and requirements for the application.
The centerpiece would be a visual depiction of a network, called the Network Host Architecture, which was designed to be an extremely flexible way to automatically visualize the equipment in any network.
Tecture did a great job taking the early, rough ideas and bringing them to reality.Rick Phipps Founder and CEO, BizDox
Phipps’ ultimate objective, though, was to empower IT professionals to understand the relative importance of each application used by a client, understand how and where each component of that application is hosted (no small feat), and ultimately use this information to help IT professionals to identify what IT system risks might translate to business risks for their clients.
The solution was the Business Application Architecture, a flexible representation of any kind of application imaginable, coupled with a database of known applications. IT professionals can use this to document and configure each application used by their clients, see what equipment on their network may play a part in making that application work, and then determine which users rely on that application to do their jobs.
Auto-diagramming from configurations is brilliant – our techs got a real kick out of that. Lots of time saved here.BizDox Customer
The knowledge resulting from this architecture is truly empowering for IT professionals, who until now “fly blind.”
Launching the BizDox SaaS brought numerous technical and usability challenges. The sheer breadth and depth of features envisioned for the web application push the boundaries of what is possible in a web application, and would require the use of both cutting-edge technologies, and the invention of some new techniques.
With an incredible amount of information and power at a user’s fingertips, quick access with a few clicks as possible is essential. We offered an instance access search feature, which provides sub- second search across a customer’s entire database. A sophisticated menu system provides similarly fast access, but with grouping and context, in case the user doesn’t know the exact name of the item. “Tecture’s approach to the BizDox application’s user interface carefully managed usability concerns. The interface is vast and complex, and designing an interface that performs quickly, is easy to use, and is flexible was a great challenge for us.” – Ben Rowland
With an application consisting of so much power and feature complexity, documentation must be designed into the application, and not an afterthought. We provide a contextual help system to orient users, with glossaries of terms, explanations of icons, and step-by-step instructions.
When a new customer starts in the application for the first time, we wanted to make sure we guided them along the right path. We designed a wizard-style guidance system to guide the user through the entire application, ensuring they experience all of the features, while also learning how to properly create documentation in BizDox.
I LOVE it. You managed to make documentation fun, and I have a feeling this is going to significantly reduce my IT Biz owner anxieties.BizDox Customer
A 3rd party data import and synchronization infrastructure would be required, allowing users to automate a great deal of the tedious work necessary when creating their documentation. A difference resolution tool makes it easy to address inconsistencies in the documentation.
“Ricky’s vision and focus for BizDox never wavered throughout the process, even when we were met with challenges. His ideas constantly pushed the envelope.” – Ben Rowland
The entire SaaS platform would need to scale at a variety of levels, including the web application layer, the database, the search system, the billing task, and the synchronization infrastructure, as the customer base grows over time. We carefully architected and performance tested the applications layers to ensure plenty of future scalability.
Finally, a marketing website would be needed to pitch the product, allow users to sign up for a free trial, and a custom ecommerce system would handle the billing. The system allows for various plan configurations, coupons, automated invoices, overage calculations, and billing-related notifications, while being integrated with an electronic payment gateway and an accounting system.
Early in the development process, a major software company in the industry, ConnectWise, took note and made a significant investment. This gave BizDox both access to capital and a strong partnership it can leverage as it brings its product to market.
BizDox debuted at the IT Nation 2013 convention, where it was publicly demonstrated during the convention’s keynote. It subsequently won the Biggest Buzz Partner’s Choice Award.
The reception that our product has received from the industry has been very positive. BizDox is still a young solution. There is plenty we need to do, but the excitement over our initial release has helped sustain the energy and focus we need to keep doing what we love.Rick Phipps Founder and CEO, BizDox
More than half of the beta customers went on to become paying customers when BizDox was released to the general public. The feedback from customers has been overwhelming: