MRA needs to get back to basics?

  • When I first found MRA, it seemed to be a great business idea and a terrific product. Create a simple and effective route-planning system that could be used on a computer or a phone. Do that in a way that was better than the competition and do it in a way that was easy and effective to use. It looked very promising.

    I saw the Great Suggestion List announced in February 2020 and in March 2020, users were able to vote to prioritize how MRA might develop in what was called the road map. Again, all very promising. I was initially very happy with what I saw.

    I tried to use MRA, but at the time found too many features were missing, but encouraged by the Great Suggestion List and being able to vote for how things should develop, I signed up for Gold Membership. It seemed this route planning system had many advantages, but wasn't quite ready for me to use. I decided to leave it a few months and see what developed.

    Prompted by a marketing email yesterday about MRA video, I dived back into MRA to see how things have developed. I am sad to say, I was very sad to see very little change.

    I was keen to see the new MRA video, as this after all, was going to be something pretty good, right? After eventually finding the well-hidden examples, sadly, after months of development, I have to be honest and say it is disappointing - it is little more than a fixed line on a 3D map, where you can add photos if you wish. Even worse, I found lots of questions about why people were having to pay for it when they had believed Gold Membership would have given it to them for free.

    Finding a forum post about the Future of MyRoute-app was even more worrying. Lots of information in there about sub-contracting out parts of MRA to 3rd parties, but it then became very confusing, calling their product MyRoute-app, MyRoute-app WEB, MRA Video, MRA navigation, MRA Route Planning. Wow, come on guys, this is crazy-confusing for users! The post went on to discuss drastically reducing the number of bugs and a big backlog of problem need fixing - not very encouraging stuff either!

    Then came another confusion - it seems there are now Gold Members and All-in-One members. Huh, what? Why?

    Then came the biggest blow. "Shortly after the opening of the second stage of MRA video, we will finally release the roadmap for MyRoute-app." Really? It has been SIX MONTHS since this list was talked about and people voted! What have you been doing with this list?

    Finally, I read "Having a great route-planner is important, but so is having a high-conversion shop to buy products from." At present, I am afraid to say MRA has neither. The route-planner is okay, but has too many bugs and not enough features. The way you promote your product, or different parts of your product to differently-named types of members is highly confusing.

    I believe you need to go right back to basics and do four things.

    1. Sell one product that includes everything and give it one simple name.
    2. Fix the bugs quickly. It sounds like you are hoping to do this.
    3. Develop the route-planning software to (where possible) to give users what they have asked for and release the suggestion list very soon. The list should be a firm plan, with guide timescales, so that users can see what will be coming in time.
    4. Drop MRA video future development until 2 and 3 are finished.

    I hate being negative, but guys, you really need to get back to basics. You have managed to turn a great idea into a vague set of confusing promises and what-might-be ideas and also made lots of things confusing to users. Above all, we want a simple, easy to use, better featured route-planning software that works well. Until that happens, nothing else matters.

    You talk very well about transparency, but then you are very opaque. At the simplest level, it would be very helpful to your users if you tell us roughly what will happen next with the route-planning. Even in terms of something like 'the next phase of development is likely to include these things'. I can understand why you wouldn't want to be specific, but after six months of waiting, we are growing impatient!

    Yes, I know this all might sound very negative and yes, you will no doubt defend your position, but the fact is your users need to see more progress than this. I look forward to the new beginning that the 'Future of MyRoute-app' post promises, but please stick to the basics!

  • @Gary-France

    For me, this forum gives me huge pleasure as it reminds me of past times in a very recognisable way.

    The original "we launch MRA video" post from Timo, loaded with technical information, and now your answer (making a few very good points by the way) and a few other comments on the forum are catapulting me back in time and similar circumstances.

    Just fantastic!!! definitively because I am not involved, not responsible ...

    You are right, "MRA must get back to basics" but as one says over here "In between dream and reality, there are mother in laws and other practical inconveniences". In fact, Timo explained (or at least tried to) in his MRA Videa mail that MRA is currently getting the resources, and undergoing the re-organisation to do just that: clear the backlog of bugs, issues and half baked new features and make a plan for the future.

    I can guarantee you that this plan will fail (no plan ever survived the first confrontation with reality) but this failure will still deliver exciting features, and will teach MRA, as a growing company, some valuable lessons preparing for the next re-organisation.

    As regards users, luckily they have no idea how much effort it costs to implement even the smallest bug fix or feature and can't understand why it all takes so long ... and that is very good. Their role is to ask, demand, request (all in a friendly way, of course) and challenge the developers into becoming better. I think you do an excellent job here.

    But first, let's celebrate that an important stone in the MRA backpack (video) is finally released, and can move to maintenance making room for basic stuff to be repaired.

  • Let me give you an example of the confusion MRA have caused and why getting back to basics is so important. Lets just look at the ‘Shop’ section of the MRA website. There are 5 products anyone can purchase.

    1. MRA Gold Lifetime. “Lifelong access to all current and future features of MyRoute-app Web, including all updates!” The use of the word ‘web’ must be important to mean this is access only to the web version of MyRoute-app. That is confusing because it is called an app, which is the term normally associated with software on a phone. There is no link to explain further, so its not clear what this is. Web or app? Computer or phone use? Both maybe?
    2. MRA all in one. From €6.92 per month. Clicking on the link creates huge surprises. At the top it says €8.25 per month. Wait, the previous page said €6.92 per month, so which is it? The pictures show MRA on a computer and a phone, so you should be able to use it on both, but the ‘Features’ section says it is “Specially designed for mobile phones” which presumably means it was designed for a phone, but it also runs on a computer. I think that might be correct because the features also says ‘One platform. All devices.’ A bit confusing. I think this MRA all in one is the same as MRA Gold Lifetime, except the difference is how you pay for it? It is a bit confusing as the two have different names. Are they the same actual product?
    3. MRA RoutePlanner Gold. This must be a third product because it has a different name to the two above, but I cannot find what it is, because the link doesn’t work. The pictures show a computer and a phone, so does this do the same as All in one, but somehow is cheaper? Again, very confusing. Is MRA Route Planner Gold a different product to MRA Routeplanner, or is the difference only in the way you pay for it?
    4. MRA Navigation. Okay, this is slightly clearer, as this is cheaper and appears to be only for use on a mobile phone. Surely this is the product that should be called an app, because apps are for phones, right? But confusingly, the web version is called an app as well? Huh?
    5. MRA Video. Okay this must be clearer. This costs €1.65 per month, but clicking on the link tells me it is more expensive if I pay for it yearly, at €2.04 per month. Huh? Why is it more expensive to pay yearly? The features section tells me “Works perfectly with MRA Route planner and MRA Navigation”. This makes sense as MRA Navigation is the mobile phone version and I am guessing MRA Route Planner is the product I cannot read about in 3 because the link is broken, but it maybe works on a phone and on a computer.

    So, you see, all these different products are very confusing! In fact, are they different products that do different things, or is the difference mainly in how it is paid for? Confusingly, it seems it might be a mixture of both!

  • @Drabslab It seems we are on the same page. In reality I know nothing about how MRA works as an organisation, but it seems to me something is not right with it. We are all sometimes guilty of fire-fighting the day-to-day issues that we get deflected from strategic goals and we get swept along with events and so we get carried further away from our strategic goals. In my previous career running a global mulfi-billion dollar business, the leaders of that business would twice a year take ourselves away for a few days to do a reality check to ensure the business was heading in the right direction and our strategic goals were not being deflected by every day operations. We found this a very useful tool to make sure we were steering the business in the right direction.

    As users, we can only guess why things seem to take too long for us and why development seems to be taking, well lets call it an unusual path. You are right, our role as users is to ask, demand, request and challenge the developers into becoming better. They might not like what they hear, but it is very important they listen. Like you probably do, I believe users just accepting what is happening does no good in the long-term, so speaking out our opinions is important, but I do realise that comes with some degree of frustration by the developers.

    Our strong opinions should not be regarded as criticism, but more as strategic suggestions. We only want to see what is best for MRA and the users - as both will benefit in the long-term.

  • @Gary-France : Your statement Go back to the basics is also my opinion.
    I used MRA-Web for planning and started to use MRA-Navigation for about 1,5 years ago . Until October 2019 MRA-Navigation was updated with new features and bug fixing frequently. This was the reason to buy a 3 Year subscription additionally. After october 2019 no updates are released. I wrote many support tickets with bug descriptions and feature requests.
    Answers were given, but nothing happens for one year.
    I was very dissapointed and a little hope came up with the voting of new features in march. Now its september and nothing happens and now there is a new product MRA-Video, which can be bought.
    For me it seems MRA wants to make fast money with half finished products, but will not support the customers with new updates and features for payed products.
    And MRA Guys you can write a counter representation, but the only thing convincing me is do your job and update your current released products.

  • @Ruediger-Hoffner said in MRA needs to get back to basics?:

    MRA wants to make fast money with half finished products, but will not support the customers with new updates and features for payed products

    Sorry, but I fundamentastically (I know that word does not really exist 🙂 ) disagree. I know you mean well but this does not completely qualify as being "constructive criticism". You are undboubtedly correct that not everything is perfect, and users should take the opportunity to remind MRA of what is not perfect, but always attempting to be as constructive and respectful as possible. It is the best guarantee that complaints will be taken seriously and something will be done

    Also developers are mortal humans who may not react well to shortcuts like "they only want to make fast money". In addition, we can only write these words because MRA made this forum that allows us to discuss. Money hungry companies usually don't waste money on such folleys.

    @Gary: this is not (yet) a multi billion company.

    Talking generally, SME grow in cycles with lots of growing pain. It starts as a very small operation and when circumstances and product/service are right it grows, and technical/ business working methods get stretched until it all grinds to a halt and nothing happens anymore;

    Many SME fail under these circumstances because the owner who had the skillset to start the company does not want to see that his skillset has limits and stubornly continues on the same distructive path, other SME are sold to a multinational, often to get killed, and some SME reflect and take the correct measures.

    MRA Video may well have been what made this MRA lifecycle burst, it was delayed for almost a year and seems to have taken so much effort that the team no longer could maintain the already released products, bugs pilling up, users starting to complain ... Me, i have a support ticket open for longer than one year now ...

    The beautiful thing is that they take corrective action, and, if I read Timo his post, are re-organising to reduce the open bug list, to improve the products, .... This seems to be the start of a new life cycle. The funny thing is that preparing that new life cycle had to be done by the only team available, the same one that was almost collapsing under the weight of the previous life cycle.

    And consequences are visible: messages on the forum that are not so very well thought true containing information that attentive users don't understand, links to products that are missing, links to MRA predecessors that don't exist anymore, a confusing products page...

    As I wrote before, it is all sooooooo familiar, and it gives me great joy to witness this (and thank you MRA for giving me the opportunity) as it brings back very good memories.

    I am on this forum for slightly longer than one year, you are here since February. In that year, I have seen the forum being introduced, and the altitude meter in routing, and MRA Video, and now a rather thorough re-organisation.

    My guess is that it will take them up to X-mas to digest this re-organisation and it will take 1 to two years for them to outgrow their new organisation again. Then it will break and hopefully lead to a new life cycle.

    I will keep watching, keep criticising (hopefully always using the right words, I am not famous for being a diplomate 🙂 ), and keep enjoying myself.

  • @Gary-France I agree with you so much... I'm one of those confused customers with a lifetime gold membership who can't discover the difference between the explenation of lifetime gold and all in one!
    I'm still trying to get an awnser that wil satisfy me...

  • administrator

    Dear @Gary-France thank you for your post. I'm glad that even though you're on the more critical side of MyRoute-app, you're still part of the community. It is important to hear what users have to say, even if this is in the form of criticism.

    I'm surprised you were able to conceive such negative news from our post regarding MRA Video and the rebranding of all products: we've undertaken this because there has been confusion about naming since the inception in 2013. There's two choices to make there: either stick to your original plan or scuttle the entire enterprise and move on. We've chosen the former.

    A key critique has been that the "-app" part of MyRoute-app is a very confusing name. We get tons of tickets from 3rd party apps such as "MyRoutes" "Routeme" and stuff like that. As you rightfully indicate: we've attached secondary services and products to the core idea of MyRoute-app but that fall completely out of scope of being part of a "routeplanner", yet are inherently attached to the idea.

    Every motorcyclist has different ideas of what he wants with a routeplanner, a navigation system or a social-sharing system, yet sometimes these wishes overlap. For you Gary, I know that you for example would very much like a time-management feature in MyRoute-app as you are a professional tour organizer. I also know people that would like a technical service- and licence management module because they use MyRoute-app for commercial purposes. I also know that statistically, the majority of the "silent" MyRoute-app community wants an easy 2-click roundtour generator.

    Which should I choose? The corporate solution, because that allows me to close a high value single contract? Your option, because that might attract more tour organizers and organic growth? The community-driven demand, because it's directly marketable? All these options should be explored. That's our ambition. We cater to everyone whose hobby involves travel.

    As for the shop: I'm surprised in exactly the same post you're both against us moving resources there and then go on explaining exactly what is wrong with the current shop's mechanics. Perhaps we're misunderstanding eachother here: in my launch post I mentioned the importance of a high-conversion shop because it is currently confusing.

    It's like having a very cool club that lots of people want to join, but they don't know how because you've made signing up worse than filing taxes. For that very club it's both important to allow easy signing up as well as organizing good events.

    To make sure that what we do is clear we've cleared up our branding and design on for clarity: MRA All-in-one, MRA Routeplanner Gold (lifetime) and MRA Navigation aren't new products or nasty marketing moves. They're simply clearer and more transperantly presented now. The fact you're upset over this means that we've achieved that goal, what's sad is that there are now a few members who feel that they have either the wrong subscription for their intended goals. That'll be next, one problem at a time.

    Finally, the roadmap to community-driven features is coming in the next few weeks. We're finalizing it's contents and will broadly share it (I'm also quite confident you'll be glad to note it's contents once you see them, after all, I do listen 😉 ). The reason it's taking longer (I think I've said this somewhere else as well, not sure) is that simply slapping down the "most popular" features in an iterative schedule won't work. There's backlogs of bugs, processes that need to be optimized, old-todo's and features from both ourselves and the community that had to be tied in. We also need a nice email and place to broadcast the roadmap.


    1. Sell one product that includes everything and give it one simple name. that's MRA all-in-one
    2. Fix the bugs quickly. It sounds like you are hoping to do this. we're on this. improvement: changelogs, coming soon.
    3. Develop the route-planning software to (where possible) to give users what they have asked for and release the suggestion list very soon. The list should be a firm plan, with guide timescales, so that users can see what will be coming in time. Coming next few weeks. Final stages.
    4. Drop MRA video future development until 2 and 3 are finished. This will already organically happen somewhat.

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