Landscape Update Now in Beta Testing

Last week we began beta testing the updated version of Landscape with a few select Landscape power users. They are helping us polish features and root out bugs. This means we are in the final stages of development for the big update!

So when is it happening?

We are planning on beginning migrations starting late next month (March 2023). Migrations will be done individually, so we will be in touch with each organization to coordinate exact scheduling. We will start with organizations who volunteer to be first in line and will then begin the migrations with smaller accounts. We will not migrate your organization until you’re ready, but all migrations need to be done by December 31st, 2023. We will be in touch with you throughout the process, providing support and training as needed.

What’s taking so long?

It’s like we decided to repaint the house, but in doing so realized that as long as we were doing that, the foundation also needed work. The roof, too. New plumbing should be put in. Before we knew it, we were essentially building a whole new house, while figuring out how to accommodate all of the features that we already loved about the old house. The good news? We have a much better house!

What’s changing?

Depending on your role at your organization, either a lot, or very little. Importantly we have not implemented any changes to the mobile app. So individuals who only interact with the mobile app (like volunteer monitors) should not notice any change after the migration. The portal experience should also be very similar.

If you’re curious about what major changes we’ve implemented then read on! A warning that we really dive into the weeds. And keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. We touched on some of this in our email blast last Fall, but this blog format allows us to go into more detail. We’re also planning on releasing a 10 minute video tour once we begin migrations.

Big change #1: Overhaul of appearance and navigation

There’s a new top menu, side panel, and overview pages to help you get exactly where you want to be and see relevant information more quickly.

Buttons are more clearly labeled or have better helper text, and we’ve introduced more flexible workflows. In other words, there will often be multiple ways of accomplishing the same action. A small example of this is the map button that you’ll see in the list of mappable work items. This button turns those items on/off on the map, without you needing to go to the map layers and toggle them on and off:

Big change #2: No more ‘properties’ with ‘assets’ and ‘stewardship sites’ with ‘work’. There will now be only ‘records’ that hold ‘work’.

There’s a bit more to it than that, but let’s explain why first. Because this is a pretty big deal in Landscape land.

  1. Sometimes you want to track stewardship site related items in a property record, and vice-versa. By allowing you to track any kind of work and apply it to any kind of record, we accommodate a greater number of potential workflows. Why are baseline reports stuck in property records? And why did management plans end up in stewardship sites if they’re usually a part of the fee acquisition process?
  2. No more clicking back and forth between properties and stewardship sites to hunt for all of the details for that record. It’s all in one place!
  3. It simplifies report, view, and widget creation.
  4. It greatly reduces the training time needed to get up and running with Landscape. You just create a property record and start adding data.

Now the how. After all, one of the things that makes Landscape so fantastic for land conservation is that properties and stewardship sites allow you to manage your acquisitions in a very flexible way. So how do we keep that flexibility if we’re getting rid of these key units?

  1. There are now three kinds of records: Properties, Parcels, and Groups and you can add any kind of work (site visits, issues, surveys, etc.) to any one of them.
    Properties are still used for tracking individual acquisitions. One property = one acquisition of a single interest.
    Parcels are still for tracking sub-units of those properties.
    Groups allow you to bundle together any combination of properties and parcels to manage them together. A property or parcel can belong to multiple groups. So you might have a group which describes multiple phases of an easement, and another group that bundles the final phase with other neighboring easements for monitoring purposes.
    In other words, we’ve tossed out stewardship sites and replaced them with much more functional groups.
  2. You can tag any of those units as a ‘stewardship site’, which now just is a way of indicating that you are stewarding a thing. This might sound like we’re actually not getting rid of stewardship sites, but this is just basically a tag you apply to any of the aforementioned records instead of an entire record type that you have to navigate to. It also allows you to keep your current stewardship site counts.
  3. Records added in a child or parent record will also appear in the parent or child record. Eg. if you enter an issue in the Group, it will also appear in the Properties which belong to that Group.

We continue to test this new arrangement on existing data to make sure there’s no impact on your ability to manage and count these records, but we’re confident that this will allow customers with complex acquisition and management scenarios to continue to accurately capture the details of those scenarios AND do so with less confusion.

Let’s look at a few examples of the old way and the issues it caused, and then how those scenarios play out in the updated version and why it’s awesome.

Example 1: You protect an easement and it is later subdivided into two parcels with two landowners. The landowner on one parcel asks you if they can build a yurt. The easement explicitly allows 1 yurt to be placed on the easement.

Old version: You navigate to the stewardship site for that subdivided portion and enter a reserved right record. You note that the right to build a yurt has been exhausted. However, since that right applied to the whole easement you now should really enter another record in the other stewardship site just to make sure that everyone who monitors it in the future knows that they no longer have that right. But that’s silly! You should only have had to enter it once.

Updated version: You navigate to the property record for the easement and enter the reserved right request. You then enter the activity related to that reserved right request. The request and activity appear in all component parcels automatically since they’re linked to the property record.

Example 2: There are multiple adjacent properties which form a protected area. Most are owned in fee, but some are easements. You need to be able to see and apply work at different levels, depending on the work you’re tracking.

Old version: You would probably have at least two stewardship sites: one for the easements, so you could track annual easement monitoring, and one for the fee holdings. You could apply both stewardship sites to the same stewardship site group, but you would have no way of seeing the activities on both sets of properties in one location.

Updated version: The entire set of properties that make up the protected area can be placed in a single group, from which you can see all the work in the component properties. Then you can place the fee held properties in one group and the easements in yet another group and apply work to these groups more granularly when it makes sense. For example, you could perform an easement monitoring visit on the easement group.

Example 3: A new staff member joins the team. They want to review the history of an easement that’s been held by your organization for many years.

Old version: They would need to navigate to at least 6 different pages (!) in Landscape to review all of the information you were tracking and you would have to teach them about stewardship sites and properties first. For those of you who want to count, that’s Property Details, Property Assets, Stewardship Site Details, Stewardship Site Work, Stewardship Site Status, and Stewardship Site Uses. They could use an awesome report to summarize that information, but that’s another extra skill that you have to teach them first.

New version: They search for the easement and click on the record. They review the details page, then the work page, then the communications page. Just three pages, and next to no training needed! We’ve at least halved the time spent retrieving crucial background information.

FYI: Projects will continue to behave in the same way, although we’ve freed up that workflow a bit too by now allowing you to add work to a project without explicitly adding it to a component record.

Big Change #3: Universal work items

In the current version of Landscape, different work and assets have different things you can add to them. For example, if you add an issue to a stewardship site you can also add communications about that issue, but you can’t add communications for a site visit. In the updated version, you can add any number of work items to any work.

Reading between the lines, one of the big implications here is that you will now be able to add a custom form to any work item. You’ll also be able to automatically link that form to that work item, just like you can currently with site visits. For example, you’ll be able to add an encroachment mitigation checklist form that can be filled out for encroachment violations which are being tracked as issues.

You may also notice the ‘linked work’ option in the screenshot above. It’s very common in Landscape for certain work types to lead to other work types. For example, you may go on a site visit which leads to the creation of an issue which leads to a reserved rights request. You will now be able to see from the issue that it is linked to a reserved rights request and a site visit, and vice versa. Very cool.

Finally, that ‘Linked tasks’ button is also pretty exciting. Link a task to specific work, so you can track to-do items as they relate to issues, reserved rights requests, resources, etc.

Big change #4: Everything else

We’ve introduced many improvements and new features throughout the software. The highlights include:

  • Track individual species observations as work records and import custom species lists.
  • Manage your protected resources as work records.
  • Obligations will now be recurring tasks, making it much easier to report on past completion dates AND not lose track of what still needs monitoring when you put off monitoring those last few easements until after the first of the year.
  • Reports will now be work items (if you want them to be). Meaning you will be able to easily report out when a report was completed and see the complete report generation and approval history.
  • Quick contact summaries from a convenient side panel. No more clicking on individual parcels in multi-parcel properties.
  • Views are now called ‘Data Viewer’ and have gotten a makeover which makes them easier to use.
  • Report templates are now edited from settings, making it harder for users to go in and fill them out by accident.
  • New ‘portfolio’ page allows you to quickly review your entire conservation portfolio.
  • Independent budgets, expenses, and funding in projects. You can now create as many of these as you need for a project, and apply them generally to the project as a whole or to specific project components.
  • Pinned notes. A small but very useful and much-requested feature that allows you to pin a note to the top of the main details page so that people don’t miss that ‘THERE’S A VERY MEAN DOG NEXT DOOR’. Just an example. You can see this in the first screenshot in this article.

We’re very excited about turning these new tools over to our users. Look for more on these updates in the months ahead.