One of the most successful internal applications at Readify is our timesheeting system that has been built (mostly) by Darren Neimke. It is running on an under resourced virtual machine which also happens to be hosting Team Build – this was the best resource that we could pull together at short notice to get this application out there.
I can say with some certainty that the system has been successful because in the past our timesheet entries could lag anywere up to a month behind whereas today it would be unusual for them to be more than a week out, and in most instances it is less than a day or two. The end result is that our invoicing process can happen on a more regular basis – in fact, there was a goal of weekly invoicing which I think we have all but achieved.
I think that one of the real successes that we have had is actually just getting the system out there and just slapping the big ol’ BETA sticker on there. Being a BETA forgives a multitude of sins, but it also encourages people to provide feedback. There is no point going live in BETA-mode with a system for which you are not going to accept any user feedback.
One of the things that seems to have emerged out of the whole Web 2.0 space is a “beta culture” which consists of developers releasing software that is stable, but perhaps not complete and then listening intently to what their users are telling them. Users seem more willing to try a BETA, especially one on the web that doesn’t require a download – the barrier to entry is extremely low when all you need to bring is a web-browser.