Posted on behalf of Matt Baker, Director of Product Management
During your software install, you can often have your ideas heard and implemented as part of the implementation process. During this time, you have a direct line to the development team through project management and the implementation staff. Through these resources, you’re able to request changes and enhancements to your software to ensure that it fits your needs. What happens once the installation phase is over? Without that direct contact with the implementation team, how can you make sure that your voice is being heard?
Luckily, there are several different ways to provide feedback and enhancement requests right to the company. If you have a support issue, you’ll have contact with the support staff, and you can communicate your requests through them. The support staff can then relay your request to product management for review, but often they are concerned with resolving the immediate issue that you’re having and not fully understanding your enhancement request. That’s not to say that they won’t spend the time to get it right, it’s just not their job to do so.
Another option is If your vendor has a client portal. This can also be a good place to communicate with the company. It also often allows you to communicate with other customers, as well as the moderators of the forum. Posting your requests on the forum could engage other customers to comment on your idea and create a discussion around the problems you’re having. The more clients that comment or agree with your request, the more weight that request will have, but it will be up to the moderators to take your post and relay your request to product management for consideration.
The best option is if your vendor has an idea portal, like the one used here at Summit Healthcare. This could be part of their client area, or another portal outside of that. These portals allow you to enter your product ideas to be reviewed directly by product management. They also allow you to view other customers ideas and to vote and comment on those ideas. The more people that vote and comment on the ideas will increase the likelihood that those ideas will be implemented. These portals also allow you to track the status of these requests. You can communicate directly with product management and know when your requests go into the development pipeline and what release will include your request.
So, what does product management do when an idea is entered in their idea portal? First, the ideas are reviewed and edited, so that they are not specific to one client. If you’re the one that entered the idea, you might be contacted during this process to ensure that the edits that are made will still solve the problem that you’re having. Once the idea has been reviewed, it’s available for other users to review and vote. When the voting period is over, and depending on the priorities of the organization, your idea could then be placed in a build for the development team to work on. After the coding is complete and the feature has been tested. It will be published in a release, and you will be notified when it is available. You will then be able to download the release that has your idea included.
Regardless of how your idea is relayed to the development team, the most important piece is to make sure your problems are solved, and your voice is heard, because the client always comes first.