Product Roadmap

LAST UPDATED: December 7, 2017
Jennifer Escamilla, Escape Online Product Manager

The purpose of this Product Roadmap is to discuss with you the planned development of the Escape Online 5 system.

We are breaking this down into these areas:

  • Core Functionality
  • New Functionality


At the end, we will review completed roadmap items.

The items listed here are not to be confused with those on our Infrastructure pages, which deal with third party software employed by our system, mainly Microsoft products. Also, enhancements required due to government regulatory agencies are discussed on our Regulatory Changes page.

Core Functionality

Core functionality is our system's "activities." Journal entries. Requisitions. Employee records. Calculating and running payrolls. Generating W2 files. There are more than 250 of these activities that our users are using day in and day out.

Each year our software releases contain a mixture of new functionality and fixes or enhancements to existing functionality. Ditto for reports. We anticipate continuing our past year’s productivity of 50-75 individual fixes/enhancements each month.

New Functionality

With the basics covered, we are now in a place where we can begin adding "the fun stuff." This includes both some great user productivity tools and resources for employees, as well.

Employee Online Portal. Status – Underway, scheduled for several releases in 2018. Our Employee Online Portal continues to be developed. Upcoming functionality includes: 

  • Finance Approvals
  • Benefits Open Enrollment
  • Enhancements to timesheets
  • Demographic Changes
  • Expense Reimbursements
  • Leave Requests
  • Onboarding

Enhance Leaves. Status – Underway, scheduled for 2018. We are working on reorganizing leave setup in order to support some of the complex rules involving leaves. 

Dashboards. Status Planning. We are planning on creating the ability for users to define dashboards as a part of our new browser based client. As an introduction to this we have added some features in the Employee Online Portal and are in the process of adding the ability to display graphs.

Browser Client. Status – Planning. This is our most exciting project in years. We are planning for a browser-based interface to our system that will provide a user experience even better than the Escape Online 5 client. This new direction provide a more graphical and flexible user experience. The re-architecting on Escape’s back end for the browser client will also provide for simplified system administration, as well as stronger scalability/performance. We are planning a phased rollout so that users will be able to utilize Escape Online 6 before all development is completed.

Vendor Online Portals. Status - Future. Add a new portal for vendors to be able to access their activity with the organization. This will include the ability to view their purchase orders, invoices, payments and much more.

Review of Completed Roadmap Items

In this section, we briefly recap the status of recently completed roadmap items.

Search on Blanks Status – Completed for Employee Management in 2017. Added wildcards for searching blank for fields or no detail records. For example, searching for a blank Bargaining Unit field or for an employee that does not have a Seniority record. Also, included searching for exceptions (e.g., employees that do not have an addon or selection of addons).

Shopping Cart Technology Interfaces. Status – Completed in 2017. In 2016, the first phase of this was delivered with the integration between Escape Online 5 and Office Depot, allowing our users to create Office Depot orders directly in Escape. In the spring of 2017, we added Amazon, School Specialty and Frey Scientific. In upcoming releases, we will be adding more integrated vendors, and the ability to submit online blanket purchase orders and perform online invoicing. In the winter of 2017, we added Southwest School & Office Supply, CDW-G, and Give Something Back.

AP Vendor ACH. Status – Completed in 2017. Send AP payments to vendors via ACH.

Additional Mass Changes. Status – Completed in 2017. Add additional records to mass update. In previous versions, we have added the ability to mass update employee demographics and evaluations. In 2017, we will be adding mass update options for employee contribs/deducts and vendor records. 

Employee Online Portal.  Status – Completed, various versions in 2016 and 2017.  Now, every employee has access to a great deal of their HR information via the Employee Online portal.  The Employee Online Portal, which is integrated with Escape Online 5, includes two-factor authentication and is responsive on any device. We have delivered several new activities in the Employee Online Portal including:  viewing W2s, pay stubs and 1095s; viewing leave and benefit details; submitting W-4 and DE 4 changes; approving HRAs; viewing team member information; viewing and acknowledging documents; and much more. In 2017, we added addon and assignment timesheets.

Escape Online 5 – Deliver documentation and tutorials via web.  Status – Completed, 17.01. Now, users can access documentation and tutorials over the web and without Adobe Acrobat. We have moved all of the tutorials to a new platform that eliminates the Adobe Reader. Now, the tutorials will play on the Wistia platform that will allow for more control and access. The same is true for documentation. We have moved all of the documentation to a documentation web site. This biggest benefit of this new format is searchability! Users will be able search across the entire spectrum of documentation. Another great advantage is that the documentation will be displayed in the user's default browser. That means it will be displayed faster and across all types of connections, including Citrix and VPN. Users will continue to use the How To option to access the documentation.

Escape Online 5 – Mass change fields in employee.  Status – Completed, 17.01.  Now, you can mass change employee requirement tracking fields for employees. The new Mass Change - Employee Details task on the Employee Management list creates an editable line item batch for changing fields on the Employment tab for employees on the list.  This new feature makes changing numerous fields easy, including everything from driver license requirements to FBI/DOJ/NLI fields to skills and training to the new immunization requirements. All you have to do is create a list of employees and select the Mass Change task. The software will quick link to the new Mass Changes - Employment Details activity (under the Processes group activity) where you can set defaults for the majority of the fields and/or change individual fields in an easy to manage direct edit list. Once you have completed your changes, you can export your detail to an Excel spreadsheet to send for review or you can post the batch immediately, whichever matches your organization's standards. The activity also includes the ability to import a list of employees with the new employment details.

Escape Online 5 – Support alternative rollup account structures.  Status – Completed, 17.01.  Now, any account component type (e.g., program or location) can have a rollup value, providing a flexible alternative account structure for charters and other organizations that need to report non-SACS accounts. The data entry uses a direct-edit list, allowing system managers to set up account structures quickly, moving from field to field with the Enter key.

Email Purchase Orders. Status – Completed, 15.01. We have been emailing employee payroll advices for years. Now, we added POs to the list of documents that can be emailed automatically by the system.

SSN Tokenization. Status – Completed, 14.03. We added an optional higher level of security to SSN. We now can store the SSN in a “tokenized” format, which means the SSN cannot be determined unless someone has the proper “key,” which is part of our programming and not available to anyone that could potentially hack into the database. Our system can “de-tokenize” the encrypted SSN field for purposes such as file-based interfaces with government agencies as required. Not many users are creating reports with actual SSNs anymore, but even this is still possible.

Additional Finance Module WorkflowsCompleted, Release 13.03. The advanced Vendor Requisition workflow model has been widely implemented by customers. We enabled several other Finance module documents to use this more powerful workflow capability.

New HR Module WorkflowsCompleted, Release 13.02. One of our largest efforts for the year, HR Workflows are being made dramatically more powerful and flexible.

Child ExportsCompleted, Several releases in 2012. In our research for more export options, we found that users wanted to get at the detail of records, like seeing all of the seniority records for a list of employees or the affected accounts for a journal entry. In several activities, if you select Items from the Export menu on the list, Escape Online launches Microsoft Excel, opening a spreadsheet containing one row for each detail record of the master (e.g., account for a journal entry).

Report FavoritesCompleted, Release 12.02. All of our Search screens allow for "favorites" or a preset group of criteria. Each user can develop up to 20 of these for every activity. We are extending this functionality to reports as well. Each user will be able to save report filter / sort criteria and recall it at will.

Report Drill DownCompleted, Released 12.1. Users can “drill down” from one report to another. For example, in a Fiscal01 report, which has account data rolled up by fund/object (or whatever the user wanted), one click will launch the Fiscal02 report for that rollup. Where an individual record is shown (like a JE#), the drill down is to the associated snapshot report.

Multiple/Undocked Report ViewingCompleted, Released 12.1. Users asked for the report viewer to launch in separate windows so reports could be compared to one another on screen.