Like most people, I use quite a few software products in the course of a normal work day. (I’ve used eight different software products so far today, but who’s counting?) Across the board, I have ideas of ways that the product could help me solve a problem, make my day more productive, or generally make my life easier. But who can I tell? Will they listen? Should I even bother?
Building Engines receives over 1,000 feature requests from customers each year.
At Building Engines, as the head of product management, I’m on the other side of those questions. I want to know what customers want to see in our product. I want to know what problems they have, and how software could make them more efficient, effective and strategic. To that end, the product management team actively engages with users of all types to better understand how they run their property management business and how Building Engines can help. We extend our reach through the Building Engines Sales and Support teams, who are having many more conversations and actively feeding ideas and requests back to product management.
Feature requests are reviewed by the product team as they come in, and reevaluated each quarter.
Our customers are creative and forward thinking, so we hear a lot of really great ideas – more than we can address in a given month or even a year. So how do we decide which ones to implement first? Popularity counts. Not in a “homecoming queen” way, but more in a there’s “wisdom in crowds” way. Building Engines strives to deliver and support industry best practices. Working with leading organizations and addressing the opportunities and concerns shared by many lets us do just that; and allows us to deliver rich, best-of-breed solutions that have broad market appeal.
But it’s not simply a popularity process. We ask a lot of questions when we evaluate and prioritize new feature requests:
Will this enhancement have measurable impact on our clients’ business?
While I appreciate hearing “that’s nice,” I’d rather hear that our product saves hours of time, saves headcount across the portfolio, reduces quantifiable risk and subsequent legal claims, or better yet, provides needed visibility for strategic decision making. We want to provide a measurable difference, because if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Are we the right company to deliver this capability?
Building Engines delivers the leading property management platform and we want to continuously deliver on this goal. Sometimes, we hear great ideas, but they don’t relate directly to what we do. Perhaps they would be better delivered from say, an email system or an accounting system because they are directly related to their functionality. It’s easy to see how companies get distracted by exciting ideas outside their core competency (recent case in point – many are questioning why Amazon, the leader in ecommerce, is launching the Echo speaker and personal assistant.) We like to stay focused on the areas where we are uniquely qualified to deliver the best solution and we try not to get distracted by new shiny objects.
Does this fit within already planned or in-process work?
We like to work on related items at the same time. It’s easier for user training (and more efficient for our developers) to make changes to one module at a time; so, we often drive items quickly into current release of related items or defer future releases to be more efficient.
In a recent release related to COIs, the product team reviewed over 50 customer suggestions and addressed over 43 of them in the release.
How will you know if we decide to implement your feature?
We use a leading online feature planning system to log feature requests from our customers and we track the source(s) of each suggestion. As we consider a new feature, we reach out to many of the people who requested this enhancement in the first place – to learn more details about the problems that they are trying to solve and how best to address them. During this process, we may call you, so may know in advance that we are thinking about this feature. Once we implement the feature, our team typically contacts customers who suggested the feature to let them know that it has been released.
To sum it up, we absolutely want to hear what you want to see from our product, understand how it will be used and how it will help your business.
So please tell us what you need. No promises, but every vote counts!