Previously, I talked about what steps I think IBM could take in order to foster an external WebSphere Community with the goal that one day it would become self-sufficient. In the previous posts in the series:
- I talked about the benefits to IBM
- I talked about the holding an external conference call for practitioners
I think that IBM should hold a weekly rotating chat between the developers and the users.
My reasoning for this request is that the developers hold the intimate knowledge of how pieces of the product work. They would be able to comment on design decisions and allow the end users to understand the reasons behind why the software works in the way it does. It would be a quick ‘short-circuit’ of the lengthy PMR process where a developer could quickly resolve a potential PMR issue before it is opened. End users would be able to build relationships with the developers and put a ‘human face’ to the products. This personification would help reduce the general angst that exists towards the product stack.
It will also allow the developers to gain feedback over their piece of the product. This would allow the developer to better understand if the users are interacting with the software in the way that the developer envisioned. Many times in software, there is a disconnect between what the developer thinks the user wants and what the user actually wants. This should lower that division significantly. It can also be a point of encouragement for developers. A “good job” or “works great” from the people you wrote the software for is worth more than some IBM Thanks! award trinket. Most developers that I’ve spoken to enjoy dialogues with their users. Currently at IBM, they are sheltered by the rest of the organization too deeply. Let’s open it up.
My idea is that the chat would be held once a week at a specific time with a rotating cast of developers. It would last for about an hour and the transcripts would be made available. The rotation would be structured in a way that a developer would participate around once a quarter. DeveloperWorks has alrady held events that are similar to this as one-offs. I would like to see it the program expanded.
I think this idea would allow developers and practitioners to connect in order to raise quality and reduce support costs.