Community Development Model

This article discussed the Community Development Model that SupportAbility utilises to determine which development items are prioritised in our development roadmap. 

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The following list summarises the content within this article. Click on the links below to take you to the relevant sections:

Our history

As a software company, we've been building cloud-based solutions to empower Australian Disability Service Providers since 1998.

In 2011, following in-depth collaboration with service providers, we created and released SupportAbility; a web-based Client Management System (CMS) designed specifically to meet the unique and complex needs of Australian Disability Service Providers.

SupportAbility was created to help providers manage the complex responsibilities of providing quality, transparent and accountable Disability Services that empower individuals through capacity building and create true impact.

In 2013, the NDIS was launched in several trial sites and regions across Australia, which revolutionised almost every aspect of the disability industry. As a world-first initiative, the NDIS is very fluid and rightly so. New approaches to Disability Services are being explored, feedback is being provided and continual adjustments are being made in an effort to improve the scheme. Even now, long after the full rollout of the NDIS across the entire nation, the Scheme continues to evolve and change at an unprecedented rate.

Since the introduction of the NDIS in 2013, SupportAbility's primary focus has been to ensure that our subscribing NDIS Service Providers are able to comply with these changing and often complex compliance requirements.

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The philosophy of community software

SupportAbility is not customised for individual service providers but instead uses a community development model. The Australian Disability and Mental Health industry is an incredibly diverse ecosystem of service providers with many distinctly different services and ways of operating. 

As a result, even though feature requests may seem imperative to an individual service provider, we are tasked with designing a system that meets the core needs of our large and growing subscriber base, whilst staying true to SupportAbility's core value of providing a simple user experience.

SupportAbility’s community development model allows us to deliver a quality software product, with regular updates at a price that Australian Disability Service Providers can afford. We can achieve this because we know that every SupportAbility user, in every subscribing organisation, is always using exactly the same version of the SupportAbility product.

Creating customised versions of SupportAbility with exclusive features for individual providers 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.

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Product Roadmap

As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, one of our core responsibilities is to ensure that our software engineering resources are utilised in a manner that provides the most possible benefits to our diverse subscriber base. Whilst a significant portion of these engineering resources are deployed to respond to continued changes to the scheme, the remainder is used to add new features and general improvements.

SupportAbility publishes a product roadmap that outlines how we plan to evolve and enhance the SupportAbility product within the next 12 months. The roadmap is established based on our understanding of the industry regulatory and compliance environment that NDIS Service Providers operate within. Please review The Roadmap Process at SupportAbility and the SupportAbility Roadmap articles for more details, linked below for reference.

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What if our organisation needs custom reports?

Whilst we do not build custom reports for individual subscribers, we do have an additional paid subscription offering that allows providers to access the raw SQL data that underpins their SupportAbility installation. 

This allows providers to connect business intelligence systems to their SupportAbility data for the purposes of creating and maintaining custom dashboards and reports as required. 

Please review the SupportAbility Data Replica article for more details, linked below for reference.

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

SupportAbility is an incredibly complex software product with millions of lines of code and it takes new software engineer employees more than a year to reach full competency in performing development work on the product. This inability to easily scale engineering resources up or down to accommodate fluctuations in demand (inelasticity) means we are unable to accept paid projects from providers. 

Additionally, allowing providers or groups of providers with the financial means to do so to influence the SupportAbility roadmap, paid or otherwise, would be unfair to the broader subscriber base paying annual subscription fees.

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Custom Invoice and Time Sheet Batch exports

The only exception to this rule is when a provider requires a custom Invoice or Timesheet Batch export to integrate SupportAbility with their finance and/or payroll system. In these cases, given that these integrations are an integral part of the value proposition of SupportAbility, any custom export requirements for Invoice and Timesheet batches will be considered upon request. Please review the Finance Integration, Payroll Integration and 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.

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