I am really excited to discuss Moodlerooms' new process for managing feature/enhancement requests and new ideas for Moodlerooms within our user community. With this blog post, we will be moving away from using behind the blackboard for enhancement requests to using the idea space within the Moodlerooms community on this site. This will improve several aspects of our relationship with our community when it comes to enhancing the Moodlerooms product. Below is a diagram of the new process that we will follow with community enhancement requests herein referred to as ideas.
The goals of this new process are:
- Implement a simple, transparent process for reviewing, voting for, and building your most popular ideas for new features.
- Improve two way communication with clients about ideas they have for improvements to the product
- Involve the community in prioritizing new features for the Moodlerooms product
The process starts by a community member creating an idea about what they think should be added to Moodlerooms or Moodle.
Thinking of an Idea
The idea process starts with a community member coming up with an improvement to the Moodlerooms product. This can happen when a user runs into an area of the product that doesn't make sense to them or when they are trying to do something new that the product doesn't fully support. It doesn't matter how the idea comes but it is useful if the idea focuses on a problem or business need rather than the exact way the solution should be built. Some questions a community member should think about before posting a new idea are:
- What is the problem that needs to be addressed?
- What need would the improvement meet?
- What is the goal the user is trying to meet?
- Where did the idea for the feature or improvement come from?
- What other products might already be solving this problem?
For each of the questions that a community member has an answer to they should try to descibe the answer in as much detail as possible including as much as possible:
- Screen casts (Jing is a free product that is good for this)
- Steps taken to get to where the problem occurred
- Anything else that might be useful
Creating an Idea
To create a new idea a community member clicks on the create and idea button on the welcome page of the Moodlerooms community. The community members picks a title, adds the answers to the questions above in the text area to describe the idea. Skipping over the rest of the form the community member clicks the publish button.
Idea Review and Discussion
When a new idea is published either I or another Moodlerooms Product Manager will review the new idea and then add tags and post follow-up questions as needed. Remember, Community members, are also free to comment, ask questions and discuss the idea. New ideas will remain open for at least 30 days. After that time, its stage will be updated based on how many views, comments, bookmarks it has received, and other external factors.
Several times per year, we will open a set of ideas for voting. These voting periods will generally align with our development planning cycles in order to receive the most timely feedback from the community. The ideas chosen for voting will be based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: number and nature of comments, the number of views, feedback from users, business goals/priorities, and prior voting results. Voting will remain open for two weeks. While we will be interested in pursuing all ideas that receive a large number of votes, we will not be able to deliver on every idea, even those that finish very high or at the top of a voting period. However, we will strive to be transparent and share our reasoning when we choose not to add ideas that the community is passionate about to our near-term plans. Ideas not chosen for voting will either be archived or remain in the For Future Consideration stage, depending again on the same criteria outlined above.
Product Development Partnership
As a follow-up activity for the ideas we will be moving forward with, we are creating a Product Development Partnership. After each voting period, we will choose at least one of the ideas for a set of collaborative webinars. During these discussions, we intend to share designs, talk about how we will break down the functionality into deliverable milestones, and project rough timelines for building the new feature. We will begin by inviting the community members who voted for the idea but will include as many interested participants as we can support.
Because it will not be feasible to do this for every idea we intend to build, we will kick it off with one per voting period. We certainly expect to build more than one idea from each voting period, though, so an idea not being chosen for this activity does not mean that we are not interested in building it! Also at the end of each voting session, the stage of each idea will be updated appropriately, based on the number of votes, number and nature of comments, and our intentions for building or not building that idea.
In the interest of maintaining an orderly, working backlog, we will review and archive ideas at each step of the lifecycle. Between voting periods, we will archive ideas that have been open for at least 30 days that have not garnered a minimum level of activity. We will seek to normalize activity across all open ideas so that an idea that has been open for 60 days is given similar consideration as an idea that has been open for 30. Ideas may also be archived if they are not chosen for voting or if they finish very low in a round of voting. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.
Ideas that are archived can be resubmitted, but it may be best to give the idea some time before doing so. If an idea is resubmitted but does not meet the minimum level of activity, it will be eligible for archiving after its first 30 days. Again, our intention is to keep a consumable number of open, active ideas in the backlog. If we do not have a desire to develop a feature in the next 12-24 months, it benefits the backlog to archive it and revisit the idea in the future.
This is the default stage for new ideas. Ideas in this stage are available for viewing, comments, and bookmarks. Ideas will remain in the Under Review stage for at least 30 days.
For Future Consideration
Ideas meeting a minimum level of activity will be moved from Under Review to the For Future Consideration stage. Many of the ideas that are chosen for voting will come from this stage. We will also use this stage for ideas that have gone through a round of voting but will not be included in the next few releases. In order to keep the backlog meaningful and manageable, we will limit the number of ideas in the For Future Consideration stage to 100.
Open for Voting
Ideas in this stage are open for your votes! You can vote one time on each idea and you can vote on as many ideas as you’d like. Ideas will remain in the Open for Voting stage for two weeks.
Ideas in this stage have usually gone through a round of voting and we intend to deliver them in a coming release.
These ideas have made it all the way through the process and are now available in Learn!
Archived ideas were open for at least 30 days and may have even gone through a round of voting, but either did not interest the community or will not be built in the next 12-24 months. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.
We have an enhancement request process that has changed a lot over the years, but has always been through our support system. Because of this we have been able to prepopulate the Moodlerooms Idea space with 25 ideas from clients. We hope that this will help everyone to get started. If any idea already exists that you remember submitting a support ticket on please comment on it. We would love to start the dialogue with you. All of these pre populated tickets will follow the process about and if they aren't voted or commented on we will consider archiving them.