Redesigning Crunch software

We’re redesigning our software

Posted on 7th May 2019

Our Crunch online accounting software started life ten years ago, providing the first-ever online accountancy, business support and software solution to contractors, freelancers, and small businesses. Even today, no one else has been able to provide such an integrated, real-time service at an affordable price point.

With our accountancy client base growing beyond 10,500 subscribers and our Crunch Chorus membership rapidly growing beyond 22,000 members, we’ve been busy behind the scenes refining our service and our software experience. In the last couple of years, we’ve made bold leaps into new technology, new software architecture, and new design systems. Now, from October 2019 all our clients will see the first visual changes as we roll out our newly designed navigation and Help panel.

Over the last 10 years, our clients have constantly shared feature ideas, pain points and improvements that would help make their lives easier, and we’ve listened intently to what matters to them. Simpler bank reconciliation and bank integrations, better mobile experience and an easier way to get help with more complicated accountancy matters are often mentioned, so we’ve been busy planning how to best improve these areas - among many others.

To give you a glimpse of what's under the bonnet, our new software will be built as a lightweight single page application using ReactJS technology. We use the Seam framework for our current software so there will be a gradual transition over time. We’re completely rebuilding the frontend UI as React components and building up a library so that we can accelerate the rebuild by re-using these components as we go. We’re also moving to a new backend architecture and building out business micro-services. Coupled with a shift towards continuous deployments, this will mean quicker improvements, faster load times and more scope for new features. We’ve also completely redesigned our security and authentication system so that we can implement role-based login and dynamic UI, content, and support for our different types of clients.

We know we can’t improve everything at once, so we decided to start with a software beta programme that we made available to a small number of clients initially. This allowed a controlled group to try our new software as we were building it, and helped us to get it right (by telling us what was working well and what wasn't so good) as we went. In October 2019, we'll move all of our clients over to the first release version of the new software.

We've started with a new type of navigation and a help section that will blend with our existing software, and we're already working on our next steps, including new expenses, sales (invoices), and banking areas. We'll follow a similar beta rollout for each of the stages.

Feedback from our clients, as always, is critical as we redevelop Crunch, so we've made sure there's an easy way to share ideas and issues (as well as telling us what works well!) as we progress. Many of our clients are software engineers and designers, so we expect that you'll not only be interested in being part of the ongoing beta phases, but you'll also want to know what we've been working on and how we've been working on it. For that reason, we'll be blogging about our journey (in fact, we've already started!) and sharing updates as we go.