Call me old-fashioned, I still enjoy a good commercial or print ad. Not only are they entertaining, but I appreciate the skill, innovation and imagination put in to them. Right now one of my favorite ad campaigns is Microsoft's 'I'm a PC and Windows 7 is my idea'. Of course I know that it's just an ad campaign and those are actors, but I'm sure Microsoft considered change requests when they developed Windows 7. Wouldn't it be great if we had a voice in the improvement of all of the devices, software, appliances, vehicles, etc. that we use everyday? That got me to thinking about EnterpriseIQ software and we've always been customer driven, taking and implementing literally hundreds and hundreds of software change requests (SCR) per year. That's evident especially now that we have reached our one year anniversary since implementing IQMS Community Server. Anyone who logs in can see We have over one thousand SCRs posted to Community Server - in just one year! Not only are there over one thousand SCRs, over half of them have been approved. Our customers, real users not actors, can say they have a voice in the improvement of our ERP software.
All SCRs can be viewed by all customers. Customers can comment good or bad on any SCR; they provide input on whether or not they like a feature and if it would be beneficial to them and/or all users. They also comment when they disagree with a change request. Which leads me to my next train of thought. I sometimes picture our lead developers, who review EVERY SCR, as Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty. There's a scene when he is going through the prayer emails and is so overwhelmed he grants every prayer. Not only do our Developers read every SCR, they have to sometimes take the time to decipher what the customer is requesting and then consider, "Is this in the best interest of all users?" That's because our software is fully integrated and we don't make changes to the core software without considering all of our customers and their manufacturing types.
A nice feature in Community Server is all customers can view the status of SCRs from submission, to review, to approval (or denial) to programming, testing and documentation. Customers can filter on the status of the SCR as well. For example a customer can choose to view only SCRs that are pending approval or just the SCRs they've submitted. A lot of our customers have been with us since the 'early' days and they know they sometimes had to contact IQMS to find out the status of their SCR, now they can go to Community Server any time they'd like and review the status without picking up the phone or sending an email.
IQMS employees love Community Server too. Support, Development, Testing, Sales, Professional Services- all of us view the requests, look at the status and view any notes. We can quickly see which customer and/or user made the request, refer back to what they were trying to achieve and how they were accomplishing that currently. We often have conference calls to review an SCR, it doesn't matter where we are, as long as we have web access, we have access to the SCRs. The turnaround time for SCRs has improved exponentially. There isn't a bottle neck at any level. And it's not that we weren't trying to get to all of the SCRs before in a timely fashion, but there were hindrances that are no longer there with this method.
So, if you are an IQMS customer or thinking about becoming one, let me give you some tips on how to get your SCR reviewed and approved.
- Attach a screen shot. We are visual people and a picture speaks loudly and clearly.
- Be brief but succinct in each area of the SCR; what is your request, what are you trying to accomplish and how do you achieve your goal currently. Is it a workaround, a separate report, etc. All three of the questions on the SCR are well thought out, we are trying to keep our customers focused on their request and ask leading questions that prompt our customers to provide well thought out responses. Re-read your request; if you can, have someone review it. I do a lot of proofing and always find errors or missing information in other people's work, but often miss it in my own writing.
- Make sure to leave the box checked to email responses to the SCR. When we reply we might be asking for further information or more detail and the faster you can respond, the faster we can push your SCR through the approval process. And when you respond to our reply, do so within the SCR not in the automatically generated email.
- Take the time to review other customer's SCRs on occasion and reply to a SCR if you'd like to see the same change. Then when you submit a SCR your community is more likely to have your back. If you have a special area of use in EnterpriseIQ, for example, Quality Document Control, review just these SCRs on occasion. Not only will you know what's coming in the next version, you can comment on an area of the software that's important to you. You have a voice.
- Review other SCRs to see if what you've requested is already approved. If you are on an older version of the software, you can also read the What's Changed documents for the newer versions before you submit a SCR.
Our customers have a voice in the continuous improvement of IQMS' EnterpriseIQ software; they are IQMS customers and EIQ is their idea.