12 Replies Latest reply on Sep 30, 2010 6:38 PM by FrankGebhardt

    How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?

    lindsaymay

      As an enterprise community manager, how do you handle requests for customizations to your sites? We recently recognized the need to establish some sort of form for employees to fill out describing what exactly they want, why they want it, etc. because we noticed people were going directly to our IT department (who doesn't manage the site).

       

      Does anybody currently have a form that handles this type of thing that you would be willing to share?  How do you determine which types of customizations to your site are allowed? Thanks for your suggestions/help!

        • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
          Ted Hopton

          We use the word "no." Seriously, we don't have the resources to develop or maintain customizations, so we take what Jive gives us and work with that.

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          • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
            CoraRodenbusch

            We started considering/implementing customizations about a year ago for our internal community. At first, we sought after Sales and Marketing which was our main target and how we justified ROI. If there was a pain point we could solve with a Jive customization, we would have their team fill out business requirements like for any other software/website development. In the requirements we asked the basics as far as objectives, target, how much time/money the current process is consuming so that we could track success of the customization, whether they had budget to contribute etc. We also added two very important questions:

             

            1. We asked if it was a globally relevant customization considering we are a global company and are trying to streamline our internal tools.
            2. Additionally, we added a question related to what kind of demand gen they could commit to. We noticed that before this was added to the requirements, our team would spend a lot of time/money creating a tool that was never properly promoted or pushed out. Now, before we commit any time to a project, we ensure that it will be properly handled after our team has finished our part.

             

            Customizations are tricky, because of upgrades. I would have whoever is developing the customization in close contact with Jive's professional services or engineering team so that they can account for future versions of Jive... if that is even possible.

            • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
              AmandaS

              We treat our implementation like a product so user requests, bugs etc. are handled the same way as other products.  We write up bugs and author user stories with requirements.  Users communicate with our team via the discussion forums in our “Help” area of the system.  If something is simple, we’ll just write it up and prioritize it.  If it is more extensive we need to gather more information and really weigh value etc.

               

              We customized a lot in the beginning because we were migrating from another system onto Jive 1.x and didn’t want to lose features.  Some of those customizations have gone away but others will remain until Jive implements them (like “minor edit do not send notifications” on all content edits).  We’ve generally customized when something was hurting adoption – like too many emails or users needing an easy/fast way to post links and highlight certain content.  We’ve also customized when it would make our admin lives easier.  For example we have a special UI where customers and partners can add and remove their own users in our system (we have a gated community).  This eliminates a huge pain point for us and I’d much rather have an engineer who can code that for me (and do other stuff) than have to employ a person to maintain customer and partner accounts.

               

              I’d say to proceed with caution and make sure you’re getting real value from any customizations you do.  It’s very easy for people to come up with lists of what they want.  You need to ensure they will benefit most users and not cause too much overhead for their value.

                • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
                  bjewell

                  Our approach is very similar to Amanda's.  We have a dedicated engineering team working on our Jive SBS implementation and our other social platforms.  We have a widget in Jive that can be dropped in any group or space that allows users to submit enhancements.  Users enter the request and provide the business case, and it flows into our development backlog to be prioritized with the rest of our development projects (along with our strategic and operational development projects). We try to release some user-requested enhancements in each major release.

                   

                  I would echo the risk of doing customizations if you plan to upgrade regularly. We've not had too many problems with our customizations built as plugins during upgrades, but our customizations that are overlays have been very challenging.

                • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
                  lindsaymay

                  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and suggestions!   We are really hesitant to go down this path of customizations and it helps to hear what others have done.  Since we just launched to our entire company, I think the best plan for now is to say "no" until we have a more secure adoption and realize how team members are actually using the system.

                    • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
                      awaldron

                      Lindsay,

                       

                      We typically only accept customization requests if the new feature / function can be used by a wide range of people, not just the person requesting.  So if it's a common annoyance that many people have, we'll make a small template change here and there.

                       

                      For larger feature requests, we gauge how useful the request will be, and for how many people, and prioritize accordingly.  If you're getting a lot of requests, you'll want to implement some sort of change control process, where you can collect requests, prioritize and schedule changes.  Our Jive site is internal and I'm a part of the IT team, we have a pretty robust Change Control system called "Footprints" by Numara Software, and all of our Jive requests have to come through that system.

                       

                      It's possible that your IT team has a similar system that they could let you leverage, we allow our Facilities team to use our system for their requests.

                    • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
                      jemjanik

                      We use the same approach as Ted and just say no.  We have a strict philosophy of sticking as close to out of the box as possible so that it minimizes our ability and cost when upgrading.  This ensures the community continues to bring new functionality with each jive release and it makes it most useful for all employees not just one particular segment.

                      • Re: How do you handle requests for customizations to your communities?
                        FrankGebhardt

                        In our organisation we use a similar approach like many others and asked a bunch of questions first

                        • is there an existing process that achieves what you need (and if so, what's wrong with it?) - Often a request is made by new staff members who are not aware of everything that's available.
                        • does the modification add business, department, team or personal value?
                        • is the modification a hindrance to upgrades or other existing integrations?
                        • are you prepared to provide a business case and any required resources to make it happen?
                        • who is supporting it long term?

                        That approach helps us to determine value modifications. So far we have only done minor themeing (compliance with internal design guidelines) and added 2 plugins (the essential because of the "pick your blog" widget and the quick template one). Discussions about integration with other systems we use (SalesForce chatter, Google Calendar, Google Video) are ongoing.