Community Development Model

Our history

SupportAbility is a web-based client management system designed specifically to meet the unique and complex needs of Australian disability service providers.  We’ve been building software for disability services since 1998, however, no one understands this industry like the service providers themselves. Therefore, we partnered with several Australian providers to design SupportAbility.

SupportAbility was built to help providers juggle the complex responsibilities of servicing clients, communicating with families, boards and government, along with managing staff, whilst helping them collaborate as a team again. Today, SupportAbility still follows this community development model, meaning that our development roadmap is largely forged on the compliance requirements of the industry and the feedback we receive from SupportAbility subscribers who are disability service providers just like you. 

The philosophy of community software

SupportAbility has the benefit of being a very feature rich and stable product at a cost-effective price, whilst also evolving constantly, with new versions released regularly. Most software products can only provide two of the three following attributes: good quality, regular updates, or a good price. So generally speaking, you can have rapid feature releases, and have great quality but at a higher price, or, regular updates and a low cost, but in a system full of bugs.

SupportAbility’s community development model delivers all three. We can achieve this because we know that every SupportAbility user, in every organisation, is always using exactly the same version of SupportAbility, in exactly the same hosting environment. Managing and supporting a single version of SupportAbility for all providers, allows us to deliver a quality product with regular updates and lots of new features at a low price.

Creating customised versions of SupportAbility and exclusive features for individual clients would mean those organisations would lose the ability to upgrade and would miss out on all the great new features that we are continually adding to SupportAbility.

What if we need something developed?

SupportAbility has a published product roadmap which outlines our schedule and plans to evolve the SupportAbility product over the next 12 months.  The roadmap is established and reviewed based on regular consultation with our subscriber base and a good understanding of the industry regulatory and compliance environment that NDIS Service Providers operate within. 

When we started out, SupportAbility occasionally entered into a development partnership with providers, to create custom reports, make enhancements or to expedite development of items already scheduled in our roadmap.  With over 100 Service Providers subscribing to SupportAbility, this practice is no longer feasible nor fair for us to continue. Instead, it is imperative that we use our finite Engineering resources to work on features that benefit as many providers as possible. 

Why can't we just pay for changes and the additional Engineering resources to develop them?

SupportAbility is an incredibly complex product and it takes new Engineering staff up to a year or more of onboarding before they are able to work on the more complex areas of the system.  With this in mind, we cannot accept paid projects from clients because Engineering resources are not easily scaled up or down (supply cannot easily be adjusted to match the fluctuations in demand). Additionally, allowing individual providers or groups of providers to influence the SupportAbility roadmap, paid or otherwise, would be unfair to the broader subscriber base paying annual subscription fees. 

Custom development for Invoice and Time Sheet Batch exports

The only exception to this is when a custom export format is required for invoice or timesheet batches for finance or payroll systems. In these cases, given that these integrations are an integral part of the value SupportAbility can deliver, any custom export requirements for invoices and timesheets will be considered upon request. Please review the Finance and Payroll Integration and the Custom Finance Integration articles for details on the information required for this. 

It is important to note that, if a custom export has been developed and is suitable for use generically with a specific finance or payroll platform, those exports will be made available for use by all SupportAbility subscribers. This ensures that we can continue to maintain a single and unified code base for SupportAbility, reducing the costs and increasing the product stability for all subscribers.

What if our organisation needs custom reports?

We do have an additional paid subscription offering that may assist providers, that allows the Service Provider to access the raw SQL data that underpins their SupportAbility installation.  This allows Service Providers to provide or contract their own development, or business intelligence resources to create and maintain custom reports as required. Please review the SupportAbility Data Replica article for more details.

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