Our internal demo featured some great stuff this week:  additional search features for automated test questions, some usability improvements to highlight rows of data when you hover your mouse on them, and the ability to export the results from an inventory search.  This concluded the features that will be included in the 4.5.4 release.  The team is moving on to regression testing and technical debt (cleaning the development kitchen in preparation for the next release).

White board with requests for feature enhancements

With our focus on agility and visibility, top 3 requests are posted on a magnetic whiteboard and are easily changeable as business needs change.

This is a time of planning in product management.  It is when we evaluate what each customer has said about features they want in the product.  We look for overlaps with other customers and our product road map in preparation for the next release (4.5.5).

We ask each customer group to imagine that they are the product manager and to prioritize the top 3 things that they would put in the release.  Internally, we look at customer Top 3 each time they change, and we put them on a board in our product planning area so the entire team can know what our customers wish our product had.

Features like class roster counts, automated email CC & BCCs, pre-approved in-service events, and deleting and replacing in-use documents have all been incorporated into our product from Customer Top 3s. 

Sometimes, we’re asked by customers how to choose a Top 3 list.  Good rules of thumb include the following:

  • The smaller the better.  All our work is sized in one week increments.  Something small is more likely to fit in the release when we have a teeny space left.
  • Something that will really help your business.  Our goal in the Top 3 is understanding how each customer uses the application differently and what needs that organization has.  Users always have *something* they want changed or improved.   When an organization is having a hard time picking their top 3, it’s a good time to walk around and see how people are using the application.  There are often opportunities for business process improvement in manual processes as a side benefit.
  • Pick a feature that you think would help more than one person.  Because Acadis is a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) product, we try to make processes that are specific to one organization more general (with dynamic labels and configuration values).  A feature that helps several customers is more likely to be chosen.
  • Don’t leave your Top 3 blank while you come up with the “perfect” Top 3.  We are okay with them changing as your needs change.  Communication is key to getting the features you want and a blank Top 3 is a missed opportunity.

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