Software as a Service / Starting to seem like a scam
The entire point of software as a service / at least the sell-case to the customer - is continual releases, continual service improvement without long waits for big bang upgrades.
I'm not seeing this with Ynab, nearly a year in. The 'improvements' in release notes are marginal UI tweaks and bug fixes (which should be part of ongoing maintenance, not represented as an improvement. If my car doesn't drive correctly, I don't consider a wheel alignment a 'service upgrade').
Alternatively, basic asks that clearly resonate with many members of the user community go unanswered. Printing reports is *still* broken - columns amputated from what is screen displayed - 3 years after requests show up in these forums. Instead, we're given helpful alternatives on how exporting into Excel (another software purchase) can cure Ynab's persistent deficiencies.
I'm not sure if this is an issue where developers are driving the train instead of product management (as someone working in the industry, this is always a poor idea). Speaking for myself, I'm nearing the year mark on returning to YNAB, after the poor initial rollout. I don't know if I'll continue, if this product stagnation does.
blackdiamond Imagine you own a restaurant and hire 10 food analysts, critics, researchers and connoisseurs. Additionally, you have a team of 15 chefs at your disposal to cook what that expert team has told them to. That team of 25+ experts that you pay full time decide to cook pizza for your guests. The new customers coming in rave about it and there is no doubt, your pizza is the best in the country! Now imagine I'm a customer coming in weekly for 3 years. In fact, there are a lot of regular customers that have great feedback to give you. They find your pizza excellent and the price worth it, but there are a few things that they think would make their experience better!
You see, after 3 years of being a regular, they've started to notice a few areas of improvement that other users haven't noticed or don't care about. They don't want you to touch the pizza that you excel at (YNAB's budgeting aspect) but, they've found that pizza tastes so much better with beer, so they'd like to suggest that in the menu. Yet, everything stays the same. Don't get me wrong, as a customer, I'm still gonna enjoy your pizza. But I'm definitely gonna wonder how the hell you're managing your team of 25 experts and why you're not using them to their full extent.
Enter YNAB, they have a team of 10 product managers and 15 developers. This amount of resources would make a lot of companies jealous. YNAB is the best in the budgeting software category, the money you pay monthly is worth it, no doubt about that.. Yet, imagine you've paid for 3 years worth of services and see no notable changes, aren't you curious on why they're not taking advantage of that team of 25 experts? You don't have to pick one or the other. You can very well find that the money you pay is worth it. And yet, still wonder how they're handling priorities and why, in the eyes of more veteran YNAB users, they're not maximizing their potential.
And as I said, we don't know what's happening behind the scenes. And past years are not necessarily indicative of future ones.. So hopefully YNAB will smack us with the biggest updates in years in 2021 😄
Ironically, actually, I think the SaaS model has hamstrung the company. When it was announced, Jesse said that they were excited not to have to wait until a major release to create big changes. But one thing that has happened instead is that *because* there is no major release cycle, they can't make big changes.
For instance, Stealing from the Future is fixed in my budget because I helped test the fix. At least, it's fixed pretty well. If I budget more this month than I have next month, this month turns red as soon as next month does. There's some wonkiness if I release money in a given month and then go backwards. But a lot of budgeters were taking advantage of SFTF and using it as part of their workflows. So even though there's actually a pretty okay fix, they can't release it because it will mess up workflows. There's no way to say, "Hey if you want the old workflow, stick with version 5 but in version 6, we're doing it differently."
Same thing with the credit cards. About 80% of the things the CC does oddly really are bugs. For instance, if a payment takes the card positive, the budget should be able to handle that--it should have an upper limit on what the available for a card can be. But the CC functionality was built in under two weeks and it went live to customers three days after it went to beta because they were rushing to get a release for New Years' resolutions. There was no time to really investigate what happens when you do a freaky transaction like receive a return which you split to a gift card while also taking out a cash advance. But to fix the behavior of these edge edge cases would require a massive overhaul of the CC system, and they just can't do that anymore. Too many people have invested too much time into learning the weird quirks which ostensibly shouldn't even be there.
I still think YNAB is the best thing out there in this space, and I was the web app's biggest champion when it was released. Since then, I've become increasingly dismayed. I still find it worthwhile; the ROI is pretty huge. I still find it well worth my time to help others learn how best to take advantage of the software to leverage the method. But it's not somehow mean to say "this software is not as good as it obviously could be."
As @Superbone said, it is what it is. This is what we're paying for right now, and it's best not to have unrealistic expectations so that, like a good YNABer, you're aware of what you're paying for.
I preferred the original standalone software versions (and the old method), but I have no doubt that I get my money's worth on a yearly basis even though we are not using it to the fullest.
The only method change is Rule 4 which can easily be mimicked using a holding category.
Thanks for bringing this up! I admit my initial response was to get defensive on behalf of YNAB (because of how life-changing it has been for me), but in reality the premise is sound, and the complaint is reasonable. Furthermore, this is an incredibly informative thread, and I appreciate the knowledge shared here.
There are two things I want to mention.
1) To the folks who say that YNAB isn't listening and won't change things based on user feedback - that's simply not true. They've implemented changes based on feedback in just the year I've been here. It takes a fair amount of time to implement them, but changes do happen based on feedback from the community - importing pending transactions is one change in particular that stands out in my mind.
2) I think the insight into SaaS being a hinderance to progress (can't just tell people to hang on to the last version of the software to keep doing things "the old way") is spot on. Making big changes affects "ALL" their users now, and so they have to make damn sure it's exactly what they want to do, because they're going to have to answer to a portion of their loyal user base as a result. That's going to slow things down from a development standpoint (both from above and within dev, as they tweak and polish and second-guess more than they may have otherwise).
Anyway, great thread. Thanks again!
I've been a user of YNAB and now nYNAB for years. There's no way around it: this company and their employees are lazy, incompetent and BLOATED!
I work in software and I can tell you, with the amount of SDEs they have, they should be pumping features out MUCH more frequently than twice a year. Mind that stuff like "adding apple login" is not a feature. That's literally a 2 hour job copy-pasting Apple's own code in your own code base. I am talking about ACTUALLY USEFUL features for the majority of EXISTING customers.
Their "roadmap" is a complete joke with nothing of concrete substance (save maybe for 1 or 2 bullet points). The reason they don't display publicly upcoming features is because... well... they're actually not doing much work to begin with. Most of their time is spent di**ing around and "maintaining" the current software.
To make a long rant short: is SaaS a scam? No. Is the company behind YNAB incompetent and greedy, asking for 80$ yearly for features that 90% of the existing YNAB users don't actually care about? YES!
"Oh but they have server costs"... Please... if server costs were a concern, they could have stayed a non-SaaS company no? Yes, they have server costs, but not 80$x1000s of users server costs (clearly). Considering they are not actually doing any additional work since YNAB 4, the 80$/year is a pure cash grab from people (like myself) that have other things to do than to migrate to a different software.
Look it up! They actually teach you this in business school. If you jack up the prices but the amount of clients you lose is not more than the overall income coming from the remaining ones, that's actually a sound business practice!
For those that say "just find a competitor". Sure, I could spend the time and figure out a YNAB alternative. But the grandfathered price (60$) is not high enough for me to actually spend the time to migrate to an alternative. But rest assured, if a competitor came out tomorrow with an easy "import from ynab" feature, I'd take it in a heartbeat.
Has anyone here also received the cheeky email from YNAB about what they accomplished so far this year?
Oath? Wow, that must have been hard....
Themes? Jeez, coming out with those CSS codes must be ridiculus
...and that's about it.
Well gee, thanks for using my money so usefully. I sure am happy you moves to a subscription model...
Anybody that thinks he's not being ripped off deserves to be. And notice how nobody from YNAB does anything about it? They have 0 excuses for lack of product development. A product I'm following closely is almost there in features with YNAB and it's been out for like less than 1 year. YNAb has been out for years yet it took someone else nothing to copy all the features.
This tells you how hard is doing something like YNAB lol.
Thanks for bumping this, Powder Blue Octopus . I had missed the thread while taking a 2020 forum break.
Since we're all airing grievances (Festivus celebration?), I have a really big one. Like to me, REALLY big. And I submitted it five years ago multiple times, figured others would too, but apparently it's just me.
I cannot STAND the freaken vignettes written about an update to a font change in the goals dialog. I actually READ release notes of most apps. I don't auto-update my iOS apps because I like to scan down the list and see what has been changed of note. I am not looking for mindless entertainment when I do this.
It is patronizing, immature, unprofessional, and a waste of time. A waste of MY time and perhaps that of the programmer or unemployed wannabe comedy writer responsible. There is an irony to seemingly more time spent on a corny release essay than actually coding said update.
I actually get stressed out when I see release notes and debate whether to click, because depending on my mood it can really make my blood boil. Yes, call me an insane woman concerned with such trivial nuisances. That's valid. I just wish it would stop already.
Maybe they ARE releasing important features, but who can decipher it from all the insipid jargon? Just STOP. You are NOT amusing anyone. There's a reason NO one else does this. Take your pricey software as seriously as we do our finances. I, for one, would feel more appreciated.
There's a reason NO one else does this.
Spotify does this on the Google Play Store :)
I do get your point though. I like to read release notes and Google Play is so bad and Google doesn't require any. Most just say not provided by the developer or minor improvements or a bug fix. What did you fix maybe I am still experiencing it but think it's how it is supposed to work.
Hah, spot on! Cartoons and jokes on the website, newsletters, tutorials, are fine. That's the marketing and PR culture. But technical stuff can have a friendly and accessible tone without being patronizing and self-flaggelating.