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How to get what you really, really want in future product releases

Product Manager

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.

button_sign-up-to-participate.png

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 - .

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully we will be hearing from you!

The PM Team.

3 Comments
dtolemy
Level 10

I like your overall analysis and you are correct when you say that we the users need to make sure we keep you informed of our ideas that can help make the product better for all. I also agree that even though we may want something badly we can't always get what we want, but if we try sometime you just might find that ....... Sorry went off on a tangent there. What I was trying to say is you are right, we should always ask for more because we may actually get even though reality is you as an company need to look at the overall what is good for the customer not one, but the many. Years ago I had a programmer tell me that if I could think of an idea that they could build it as long as I had the money to do so. How right he was.

Deltona
Level 15

Hi bmrad

Your time spent and hard work at SolarWinds is greatly appreciated. It is clearly evident in these fantastic products, thank you!

Now, how do we get to keep features that we want and not lose them completely in a product update?

trek333
Level 9

Survey completed...I am looking forward to sharing ideas in a different community setting for features requests with other customers and the Solarwinds Program Management team. It would be nice to influence the priority of new Solarwinds feature(s).

About the Author
Ok, so I have been a geek for a long time, went to UT finally ended up at a startup, Tek-Tools where we built a monitoring and reporting product for Servers, Backups, Storage and Applications. In Jan 2010, Solarwinds bought Tek-Tools, and I was added to the PM team. When my mind actually wonders from making our products better, I am generally spending time with my family, reading, watching sports, arguing politics or tinkering with stuff (it can always be made better), with the occasional camping trip thrown in for good measure.
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