I read this great blog post recently
Listen to Your Community, But Don’t Let Them Tell You What to Do
The article makes a number of good points but these two grabbed my attention
1. 90% of all community feedback is crap.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. Sturgeon’s Law can’t be denied by any man, woman, child … or community, for that matter. Meta community, I love you to death, so let’s be honest with each other: most of the feedback and feature requests you give us are just not, uh, er … actionable, for a zillion different reasons.
But take heart: this means 10% of the community feedback you’ll get is awesome! I guarantee you’ll find ten posts that are pure gold, that have the potential to make the site clearly better for everyone … provided you have the intestinal fortitude to look at a hundred posts to get there. Be prepared to spend a lot of time, and I mean a whole freaking lot of time, mining through community feedback to extract those rare gems. I believe every community has users savvy enough to produce them in some quantity, and they’re often startlingly wonderful.
- Be honest about what you won’t do.
It always depressed me to see bug trackers and feedback forums with thousands of items languishing there in no man’s land with no status at all. That’s a sign of a neglected community, and worse, a dishonest relationship with the community. It is sadly all too typical. Don’t do this!
I’m not saying you should tell your community that their feedback sucks, even when it frequently does. That’d be mean. But don’t be shy about politely declining requests when you feel they don’t make sense, or if you can’t see any way they could be reasonably implemented. (You should always reserve the right to change your mind in the future, of course.) Sure, it hurts to be rejected – but it hurts far more to be ignored. I believe very, very strongly that if you’re honest with your community, they will ultimately respect you more for that.
All relationships are predicated on honesty. If you’re not willing to be honest with your community, how can you possibly expect them to respect you … or continue the relationship?
It got me thinking how does Microsoft deal with Dynamics CRM community feedback?
The Dynamics CRM Community is awesome
I am constantly amazed at all the great tools/blogs/books/videos/articles created by the dynamics CRM community. I really enjoy being part of and interacting with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community and some of the positives that spring to mind
It’s a friendly place
people in the CRM community are always willing to help each, add useful comments
I learn loads from tools and blog posts people create. The content I really enjoy is where people find unexpected workarounds and solutions to problems
I enjoy being part of the Dynamics CRM community, the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
The majority of the Dynamics CRM community is a positive group. Most of the Community energy is diverted to positive endeavors rather than complaining. I am a great believer in being positive because being positive you create ideas/solutions, but being negative you create nothing but hot air.
When the Dynamics CRM community comes up against a problem, it usually find a solution to it pretty fast. I have found most people who stick around in the Dynamics CRM community are proactive, self motivated people, which you need to be to keep up with the new functionality Microsoft are creating and the speed they are creating it.
Below are some of the activities the CRM community and Microsoft contribute to make up the Microsoft Dynamics Community.
Tools and Solutions
Fantastic Codeplex tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
You can read my reviews on my CRM 2013 Tool List
There are great tools not featured on Codeplex, like the great Ribbon workbench (a must have) from CRM MVP Scott Durow
Top 25 Dynamics CRM Sites – featured on Dynamics 101
Blogs featured on Microsoft dynamics blog list
CRMUG (I have written a blog post What is CRMUG? Should you join? if you want to learn more about CRMUG)
Dynamics CRM Community
The many Dynamics CRM conferences (convergence etc)
Microsoft have CRM SDK, Technet, MSDN articles, whitepapers (link to all CRM 2013 whitepapers here)
The interaction between the CRM Community and Microsoft I think is pretty good, Microsoft creating lots of great material and the platforms for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community to collobrate, interact and create great content.
There are 62 CRM MVP’s and they are involved in all areas of the Microsoft Dynamics Community mentioned above. The CRM MVP’s are a bridge between the CRM community and Microsoft but they are also part of the CRM community.
The concept of CRM MVP’s is a great one. Fantastic CRM content creators are then able to get sneak peaks and previews of up and coming features in CRM, which they can then feedback to the CRM community.
How do you give feedback to Microsoft
I want to focus on how the Dynamics community gives feedback to Microsoft on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product itself. This is a vital area for the direction and growth of the CRM product. The dynamic community is giving feedback generated from their own needs and the needs of their customers.
Why am I writing about Connect Site
Recently I wrote the blog post – CRM 2013 – Why are access teams marooned? where access team functionality was added to CRM 2013 but there is no way to add access team templates to a solution, which makes it difficult to use because you have to create each access team template on each CRM environment.
There was also this post from CRM MVP Leon Tribe – Fixing Lead Conversion in CRM 2013
I remember CRM 2013 and not being able to find the advanced find, so much that somebody made a tool, with just the advanced find button in
Combined with the coding horror post and these I thought I would look into the process of creating product/functionality enhancements for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
To give this feedback to Microsoft you use the Connect site
When answering questions on the forum, sometimes people find bugs and sometimes people want functionality which doesn’t exist. So you have to ether
- Raise bugs with Microsoft support
- raise feature enhancements on Microsoft Connect
Raise a Bug
To raise a bug you have to go to Microsoft support and raise a ticket,which I think you do via the CRM Customer Center where you might find the solution before raising a support call.
New Product Suggestion
If you have an enhancement rather than a bug, then you need to use the Connect site to create a new product suggestion but before you do that you should search the list of current Product suggestions because someone might have already created it.
You can either vote on a current new product suggestion or you can create a new product suggestion. Once a product suggestion has been created people can vote it up.
What do votes means ….? Prices
In theory the more votes you get, the more likely it is to be added to a future release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
In the FAQ this is what happens to Product suggestions
Q. What happens to my product suggestions?
A. Your suggestion is delivered directly to the appropriate product development team based on the product line you specify. This process ensures that customers and partners can help shape how future versions of our software will work. During the planning phase, each product development team considers suggestions as possible new features for the next release.
Q. Why hasn’t anyone from Microsoft responded to my suggestion?
A. Microsoft Dynamics product development teams strive to respond to your suggestion within approximately one month of submission*. If you have not received a response on your suggestion within one month of submissions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. *Note: Service level agreement only applicable to suggestions entered into Microsoft Connect
How does the product suggestion process work?
My honest answer would be, ok but could be a lot better. The process of raising an enhancment works fine but the next stage of the product suggestions going into the product takes a very long time.
What I don’t like about the connect site and new product process
Before we go anywhere I will say this is my personal opinion and it’s based on my experiences and my discussions with fellow CRM developers on connect site. I appreciate this is a very small, possibly biased selection of people and the experience for the majority could be very different.
The connect site
The connect site feels and looks at least 5 years old, the site is not intuitive or easy to use. Searching and finding proposed new product suggestions can be clunky, slow and confusing.
This process should be as easy as possible to encourage more people to use the site.
You scroll down to the end of the page and then the washing machine wait icon appears, I can only view 8 items on a page.
There are some links for you to use, you go to most voted and then see a list of resolved items, which were most voted and included.
Vote on resolved items
You can still vote on resolved items, why?
I often mention to people on CRM forums to raise their enhancements on the connect site but I’m not sure I believe their suggestions have much chance of being added to the product, so why bother. The reason for this is, it often seems people put enhancements on and then nothing….. very little feedback from Microsoft, not much voting. Maybe the user gets feedback directly but what about people using the connect site, it just looks like the suggestions are sitting there with nothing really happening.
I wrote a blog post recently CRM 2013 – Why are access teams marooned?, this explains there is no way to add access team templates to solutions. A product suggestion was added on 27/11/2014
Access Team Template in CRM Solution
It has had 13 votes and Microsoft have a month to respond but after the response it’s difficult to understand what is happening with each suggestion.
Is it resolved?
I see this issue CRM 2013: Adding the “Advanced Find” to the global menu this has been marked as resolved and with the status resolved as tracking. Which when click on tracking says the product team are tracking this. How is that resolved? It’s resolved in CRM 2015.
Ability to set default entity for lookup fields – by Donna Edwards create 01/03/2012
this is set to resolved as tracking, but what does this mean, how is it resolved, surely it’s only resolved once it’s in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product.
Time of response
It can take a very long time for things to go through the site and onto the Microsoft Dynamics Product. Adding Field Level security to out of the box fields was added 09/03/2011 and has only just made it into the product for CRM 2015. Why has this taken so long
What I like
There are positives about the Connect site
There is a method to raise product suggestions
It’s good Microsoft have a public process for people to add product suggestions and the voting mechanism is a great for the CRM Community to show support for particular suggestions
It does work
If you look at the list of the most popular suggestions they have mostly been implemented into Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
One of the greatest suggestions was by CRM MVP Neil Benson is
All Dynamics CRM training course materials should be free for everyone to download
It might not be a product suggestion, but this is such a good idea, which has helped lots of people study for the CRM certifications. It makes sense to encourage and make it easier to study for the CRM certifications so there are more people knowledgeable about the CRM product. This shows when the connect site works it can be awesome.
Microsoft do comment
I have seen lots of product suggestions with comments from the Microsoft team. So they are giving some feedback.
Why is this important
I think CRM is an awesome product and I enjoy creating solutions using it. I appreciate it has some quirks, a few bugs here and there but all products do.
At the moment I think Microsoft is missing getting some great feedback. I know they have CRM MVP’s who they have a close relationship with but there are thousands of CRM users/Developers and Microsoft could be using this group a lot better by being more interactive with CRM community regarding enhancements.
The coding horror blog post makes a great point, 90 percent of the enhancements will be rubbish, ridiculous, not workable, not worthwhile but 10 percent could be glorious.
I send people off to the Connect site regularly, this is the correct thing to do but I don’t feel at the moment it’s a very effective thing to do.
In my opinion usage of the connect site would be improved if these points were improved
- It takes ages for enhancements to make it into CRM
- Not enough people use the connect site due to lack of feedback or action from Microsoft
- Make the connect site easier to use
What about the future
What struck me most about CRM 2015 was the fact some of the long standing connect enhancement requests were added to the CRM product and Microsoft in general seem a lot more reactive to opinion under Satya (e.g. Start button coming back in Windows, Microsoft Office for Android etc)
In CRM 2015 some of the new functionality
- Field level security on Out of the box fields
- Rollup fields
- improved business rules
- improved searching conditions
- Custom help
At the moment I feel Microsoft are listening, but the Dynamics CRM community has too shout really loudly to be heard.
The way the connect site works is a bit of mystery and the lack of feedback from Microsoft adds to the feeling that nothing is happening with the suggestions. This I believe is reducing the number of people using the connect site, which ultimately will lead to few product suggestions.
I’m probably missing out important aspects from this discussion and hopefully people will comment and correct me, but I feel Microsoft could do better in this area and if they did focus on this Microsoft Dynamics CRM can only get better and it would encourage the CRM community to be more active.
There is scope for Microsoft to utilize the Microsoft Dynamics Community more effectively to help shape the future of Microsoft Dynamics CRM with feedback and suggestions from users.
My experience with the Connect site is it’s not easy to use, the statuses seem confusing and it takes too long for good suggestions to make it into the product.
The conversations I have had with people about the Connect site is people do not really use it because the suggestions take too long and the lack of feedback means it’s not something they can use to pacify customers (e.g. Microsoft is looking into it).
I appreciate Microsoft are a big tanker and it takes time to turn the ship and they are busy adding new functionality, but this type of feedback from the Microsoft dynamics CRM community is extremely valuable, those 10 percent of fantastic ideas are based on people who use the CRM product every day and based on hours/days of project experience.
There seems to be an improvement in CRM 2015 with Microsoft is more responsive to user feedback, if this could continue to the connect site I believe it would lead to greater participation from the CRM community.