A long time ago, in a network far, far away, a post was written called Why Should I Care About Release Candidates? I say a long time ago because it was 2009, shortly before I joined SolarWinds and while feature phones still ruled the earth. Since that post, SolarWinds has added thousands of customers, but as Product Managers, we work hard to stay close to you so we deliver real value in every release. And we are very thankful for your willingness to share your time and thoughts about our products and company.
However, we wanted to reach out again, to customers both new and old, to tell you (or remind you) the secret of how to get what you really want in future releases of your favorite products. Ready for the secret? The main secret to getting what you really want? It's easy - PARTICIPATE! Participate as much as you can! Since we operate on the YAWL principle (You Asked, We Listened), the more we hear from you, the better. We have a variety of ways for you to participate.
- Review What We Are Working On: Our What We Are Working On posts details the features we are currently working on across all our products. Its a great place to start and see what is on the roadmap. If you don't see what you want, check the feature request form for your products and vote.
- Vote on Feature Requests: Each product has a Feature Request forum (examples: NPM, SAM, DPA) where you can add and vote on your favorite features. While product managers reviews all feature requests, voting helps up prioritize... and when we start working on a feature, we can reach out to directly to everyone who votes.
- Walk Through UX Mockups: Early in the release process, our excellent UX team puts together functional mockups for you to review. Feedback here has a big influence on what we implement and how it works. At times it may feel like a therapy session, but we really want to understand what you see, how you process the information and decide what to do next.
- Install Beta Releases: Beta's are early versions of the next release with some features complete and ready to try in your environment. This is where the rubber meets the road and features come to life - and your feedback is crucial. Remember - beta's are fresh installs only, not suitable for consumption on your production server.
- Upgrade to Release Candidates: As emphasized in the old post, Release Candidates are fully supported releases, meaning you can upgrade your production servers and start using new features right away. Our Support and Sales Engineering teams are fully trained in the new version. Don't hesitate - our new upgrade process for Orion products is amazing.
- Show Us Your Environment: Our UX team also loves to do "Show Me" sessions, where we watch you use our products in your environment, and see how you solve problems.
- Answer Surveys: From time to time, you will receive requests to fill out surveys, here on Thwack and via email. These help us understand broad trends of your business, environment, and feature needs.
Hopefully you are in inspired mood, because here is your opportunity to participate: Take this one page survey so we can reach you next time we are looking for volunteers.
REALITY CHECK: Will I really get EVERYTHING I want?
You may be thinking to yourself "Will I really get everything I want"? Sadly, no... we can't make all your dreams come true because we have limited resources and no limit of good ideas from you. But this is why your participation is so important, to help get the most valuable features to the top of the list. And patience often pays off - check out this feature we implemented earlier this year from a request in 2012 - Silence Alerts While Still Monitoring.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully we will be hearing from you!
The PM Team.