By Geoff Irvine, CEO on Friday, January 09, 2015

We are hardwired at Chalk & Wire to never make bombastic, self-serving statements. Also, as Canadians, we tend to understate practically everything we do—it’s an odd cultural trait some American observers have gone so far as to call self-deprecating. That being said, 2014 was the best, darned year we have ever had! So there, eh!

woot wootOur staff and I spoke with countless schools explaining how the combination of know-how, technology and support would give them a unique assessment edge and that the journey was not the stuff of Don Quixote. More leaders than ever accepted the challenge and placed their trust in the processes we advocate to deliver near-term valid data derived from irrefutably logical and systematic assessment system design.

News about our thought and technology leadership in the field and our success appeared in the media nearly every month. At the same time, we maintained our 99.7 % annual renewal rate. So, public knowledge about us was way up (without pouring money into marketing), debate on the topics we think vital got hotter, and confidence in our work remained high.

We also grew our greatest asset – our talented staff. We added our first CIO, Rob Millard, who brought a wealth of industry savvy to our operations. We expanded our administrative staff, help desk, and our QA team. We also lured to our roster of exceptionally experienced educators a new Senior Assessment Solutions Specialist, Dr. Gregg Kirchofer, who has broad experience in assessment at the institutional, state and national levels.

Our technology and its hallmark integration gained serious traction. The mobile-ready interface had an excellent first year especially when placed in the context of our full LTI support for all LMSs. This all meant more people were able to do more work with less effort.

2014 also heralded the return to our development roots as AGILE developers. Our signature development approach has always been to respond to school requests for new features and enhancements in a constant cycle of development and at no fee. Over the years, this resulted in very large upgrades each July. While this worked, we felt it put too much into each iteration for users to absorb.

Therefore, we decided to go back to our approach of working with a large, constantly prioritized list of requests, pick small packages from the top of the pile every 3-4 months and “sprint” to develop, test, document, and then release upgrades. This, we feel will result in manageable increments of change and improvement for our users without lowering expectations of innovation.

All in all a win-win year! Now, bring on 2015!

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