From Customer Requirement to Feature Release - Brainstorm

Issue 3, 2012 Download pdf

A software product can only be successful if it meets the requirements of its customers. So the most important aspect of developing new and enhancing existing software is to implement product features that are directly requested by you, the customer. Software AG’s customer requirements process ensures that you can submit your product ideas and stay abreast of the status of that request as it works its way through evaluation to potential implementation. 

Where do all the ideas for building or enhancing a product come from? Ideas might come from market and technology trends or from customers’ business requirements. They may be driven by standards or new inventions from major market leaders. Ideas to enhance existing software products may also be driven by usability or productivity needs. Software AG uses “Brainstorm”, an online requirements tool, where customers can submit their ideas and discuss those ideas with other customers and Software AG groups such as product management and research & development (R&D). 

Submit Ideas
Brainstorm is available to all Software AG customers and accessible via “Empower”, Software AG’s customer extranet. Here you can enter new ideas, look and search for existing ideas, or comment on ideas. If you like a proposed idea, you can vote in favor of that idea to increase the probability that it will be taken up for implementation. As shown in Figure 1, ideas are divided in categories including Software AG product categories such as Business Process Management, Natural, Adabas Management, webMethods Integration Server, and EntireX.

FIGURE 1: Select a product category in Brainstorm

Review Ideas
After you have submitted a new idea for a selected category, the Software AG product manager responsible for that category receives an email notification that a new idea has been entered. The product manager now checks the idea against criteria like:

  • Is the requested feature already planned or even implemented?
  • Have other customers requested the same idea previously?
  • Does the idea fit into the product strategy?

While an idea is in review, the product manager sets the status of the idea in Brainstorm to “Initial product team review”. This indicates to you that the idea has been received and is being discussed inside of Software AG. Of course during this time, other customers are invited to enter comments on this idea. Maybe customers have already found a solution for the request or can offer suggestions on how to overcome a problem described.

The comment field may also be used by the product manager or R&D to ask clarifying questions or add remarks. Whenever a comment is posted for an idea, an email notification is sent to you - the customer who submitted the original idea. To view recently submitted comments or questions, you simply select your idea by choosing the tab “comments” and the required product category. At this time, it is important that you respond to comments or questions to ensure the evaluation process continues.

Evaluate Feasibility
In the next phase, the product manager discusses the new idea and its related comments with R&D to determine the feasibility of implementing and effort required. The status “Evaluating Feasibility” is assigned to the idea in Brainstorm, as shown in Figure 2.


FIGURE 2: An idea with comments in Brainstorm

Implement Approved Ideas
If all parties agree on implementing the new idea, the request is entered in a Software AG internal system called “iTrac” (integrated Tracking Tool), where all product features are managed and prioritized as shown in Figure 3.  All features related to a product are represented in the product feature backlog. You will then be informed that your idea was accepted through Brainstorm via a status change to “Accepted for Future Release”. When the version (i.e. NaturalONE v8.2.6) that your idea will be implemented in is determined, it will be displayed in the comment field.

FIGURE 3:  The idea as feature in iTrac 

Once a feature has been implemented, the status of the idea will be changed to “Implemented”.  If the idea was not accepted for implementation for any reason, the status will reflect “Not in Plan” and the reason will be documented in the comment field.


Do Your Part
We encourage you to:

  • Use Brainstorm to submit new product ideas and enhancements
  • View enhancement ideas recommended by other customers, frequently
  • Provide your comments to ideas submitted
  • Vote for the ones that you would like to see implemented