Quip is releasing the next set of updates from its integration with parent company Salesforce, announcing a tighter data connection, as well as releasing new functionality around task management. All of this is being bundled into a major redesign intended to keep the word processing and collaboration app fresh, simple, and modern.
Quip Connect in the Salesforce AppExchange will be available on February 13, but Quip’s redesigned apps for the web, iOS and Android, and desktop and checklists are available today.
Last October, Quip announced support for Salesforce single sign-on, along with the ability to embed live data from the customer relationship management (CRM) platform right into documents. This means that the sales numbers shown in your monthly report produced through Quip will always be up to date.
Now the company is launching an AppExchange package called Quip Connect to build on top of this existing capability so users can export reports from Salesforce’s Sales and Service Cloud and even open up Quip-powered documents natively within the CRM. With this move, Quip is becoming the de-facto productivity tool within the Salesforce ecosystem.
“Our vision is that any time you need collaboration or spreadsheet, it’s going to be available with Quip,” said company chief executive Bret Taylor. However, he shared that it was also a play to encourage users to abandon Office 365, Google Docs, and other similar tools. “We hope to be the best productivity tool for Salesforce…a good chunk of new customers will start using Quip because of Salesforce,” he said. “As you look at the landscape of productivity tools out there, it may be a competitive advantage for us.”
Formalizing task management
In terms of productivity, Quip is releasing a host of tools centered around task management, formalizing listmaking that people did out of necessity and making it possible for them to do so without resorting to structured tools like Microsoft Project and Asana. With today’s redesign, Taylor said the new checklists feature “fills the gaps between formal systems. It preserves the freeform, lightweight nature of Quip, but adds some power to task and project management.”
Within a Quip document or spreadsheet, input the task that needs to be completed. Then you can use the @mention syntax to tag a teammate so they’ll be notified what’s assigned to them. The app has become smarter so that it will know when tasks are due — just say by “tomorrow” and it will list February 8. Or there will be a dropdown menu where you can specify the deadline. As the due date approaches, reminders can be set to notify you of upcoming deliverables.
Checklists aren’t intended to be a replacement for services like JIRA, but they could be a useful tool for simpler project management needs. Taylor knows this space well, having gained extensive experience in the world of product management while at Google, FriendFeed, and Facebook. He views current tools as “too granular” and sees what Quip is doing as a collaborative punch list. “You don’t want formality. You just want people to see and have a shared understanding of what’s going on,” he said. “People tend to use email more than tools like Asana.”
Emphasizing the potential of Quip, Taylor shared that Salesforce used the app to organize and track last year’s Dreamforce customer conference.
A smarter Quip
While users will notice the aesthetic changes, the company did employ machine learning to make the app smarter so the right options show up when needed. This means that targeted menus will appear depending on where your mouse or cursor is, so if you’re in a table, Quip will present options for sorting, checking or unchecking boxes, and more. If you’re editing a paragraph, it’ll change to offer formatting and other style updates.
“What we wanted to do is, throughout the app, light up all the options contextually,” Taylor explained. He contrasted it with the ribbon that you’d find within software like Microsoft Word, where all the options are thrown right in your face. To avoid this information overload, Quip aims to surface the appropriate tools to help improve the overall experience and keep it “more discoverable, cleaner, and modern.”
Quip is also getting an overall redesign, meaning that the sidebar has been refreshed to become the de-facto homepage. Now you don’t have to go back to the main page just to access other documents and spreadsheets — it’s all right there in the left sidebar, which has now become the “center of gravity” for the app. This now shows the most recent documents you’ve viewed and those you’ve frequently accessed. And a contact list of your team members is also included. You can hide the sidebar if you want.
“We tried to put more weight on the side bar,” Taylor said. “People try to work on a relatively modest set of documents every week and month. It’s to provide efficient random access to your favorite stories.”
Updated as of 8:46 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday: Edited to state Quip Connect availability is now on February 13.