Tag Archives: User feedback

The Inside Scoop on Being a Microsoft MVP – From a 5-Year (and counting) MVP – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this post, I gave you some insight into what the Microsoft MVP award is and how it is awarded. This post will focus on the unique benefits to actually being an MVP.

Quick Answers to Tech Questions

Being an MVP means I can get answers to technical issues almost instantly from the community.

I can pick up the phone and call another MVP or even participate in a private forum to see if someone else around the world has experienced the same issue. Clients are often amazed that I can get the answer they need faster than their own IT departments!

As an MVP, I have had the opportunity to create a mental rolodex of the most qualified tech professionals in business today.

Access to Microsoft

Being an MVP means I share what I hear directly from clients to individuals at Microsoft who can truly make a difference.

Recently, while at an MVP feedback meeting, and with my client’s consent, I was able to show someone at Microsoft my automotive client’s instance, describing what they wanted to do and their pain points with the software. Microsoft was eager to receive this feedback as they continue to improve their products.

Another example is that of one of my retail clients, who was having an issue with a specific Project Online resource feature. I was able to reach out to someone at Microsoft who was involved in the development of this feature. My contact suggested that I have the client submit a proposed change to Microsoft backed by a business case. The feature was reviewed by Microsoft, which then decided to make a change to the software. With the power of Project Online, the customer was able to see the change within a few months of it being rolled out.

Serious Network Benefits

Being an MVP means I know the best of the best around the world. It’s a real kick when a customer says they read an article from another MVP, and I can often comment that I know the individual personally and that we recently chatted on the phone or participated in an event together.

An MVP might call me about a challenging timesheet/task update question, while I might call another MVP to get advice about integration with another Microsoft product. As an MVP, not only can I call people in my software area of expertise, but I can get connected to other MVPs in other areas when needed. This is very powerful and gives me a huge network of resources across all Microsoft products.

Also, MVPs in my software specialty have become friends for life. Sometimes in our forums we share stories about weddings, babies and life-changing events like floods, terrorist attacks, and even war. This is not a news report, this is someone sharing personal feelings of things they are experiencing right now, and I’m honored to be there for them when they need me.

Nonstop Learning & Sharing

Being an MVP means I am passionate about what I do and helping others get more from their software.

Being a frequent (okay….constant) traveler, I get to meet lots of people all over the country at all levels of ability and in all industries. I learn from them all. Novices help me to see pitfalls to software usability and experts help me to see the range of ways technology can be used. My head and my heart are in this business together because every time I travel I feel grateful for my unique opportunity to learn, grow and share.

One thing an MVP is not, is someone who knows the answer to every question. However, I continue to learn and gain knowledge every day and customers help me in that growth.

Are you interested in becoming an MVP? Or do you need the kind of help only an MVP can provide, specifically for Microsoft Project or Project Online? Please feel free to contact me to start the conversation!

 

 

Photo Credit http://www.motophotoknappscorner.com/

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Recent Travels & New Ideas

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting at the annual meeting of PMI (Project Management Institute) Great Lakes chapter. The meeting took place at the Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan.

The topic, Agile in Action, was one that I know well, as I’ve presented it at the PMI-NEFL Oceans of Opportunity conference in September 2015 and online at the Microsoft Project Virtual Conference in February 2016.

So what does “Agile in Action” mean?  Let me ask you this first: Are you using Agile in the workplace?  Yes?! Well…maybe; well, we use it …sometimes. Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. This presentation took the audience from Agile ground zero to using actual Agile techniques that could be taken back to work immediately.

As part of my presentation, the following Agile topics were discussed, and included lots of hands-on exercises.

  • Agile approach versus traditional scheduling
  • What is a User Story and how is it used?
  • What is Planning Poker and how is it used?
  • Risk vs Value management
  • Advanced burndown chart interpretation

Those of you who know me well, know that I’m never in one place for long. Next I’ll be presenting Agile in Action and Best Practices in Schedule Development for the PMI Northeast Florida Conference on April 7th and 8th, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Did you see me at the PMI Great Lakes chapter event? Drop me a line and let me know what you found most valuable!

Or are you planning to attend the PMI Northeast Florida event? I’d love to hear what you most want to learn about.

 

 


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Contribute to Microsoft Project/Project Online Improvements

As many of you know, it is often the user of a great product who has the best idea for improvement.  A Starbucks employee told me one of their customers suggested the plastic drink stopper to keep you from spilling coffee on yourself. While in reality it may not have been a Starbuck’s customer, I’m sure it was a hot beverage drinker out there somewhere who came up with the idea.

I recently read a book called Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. In that book, it talked about Lego’s plans to go after a new industry for them at the time – online gaming. It seemed like every time something was shown to management, the team would be sent back to the drawing board. Continuing to invest money and time in a game whose release date was forever being postponed did not prove to be the best approach. Lego’s initial attempts at an online game were finally released and titled Lego Universe, but it was eventually shut down at around 18 months.

In an effort to release the nearly perfect game, Lego lost their potential market share to a company that did something different.  That company was Minecraft which started out with a simple game, relatively low price, but immediately went to the marketplace. The concepts of the game were similar to what Lego was trying to produce, but Minecraft didn’t wait until the game was perfect. Minecraft decided to evolve through user feedback. The game began to improve based on what the users actually wanted, not what someone thought they wanted. As of 2016, Minecraft has been purchased by over 23 million users. This is really a testament to user feedback.

On a future project, Lego decided to use the concept of user feedback and they had one of their most successful new product launches ever. According to Brick by Brick, Nothing beats the feedback you get when you put the product in the hands of the kids. The kids can’t tell what you need to fix in the design, but people watching them can figure it out.

Microsoft is definitely a company that believes in feedback from the users. Now as a Project Online user, you have the ability to suggest and vote on feedback for new product changes. You can do this through something called User Voice.  The concept behind User Voice is any number of ideas maybe posted, but you are given a finite number of votes; in this case 10 votes. Since you have a limited number of votes, the most desired changes receive the highest number of votes.

Quite a number of years ago, select individuals (e.g. MVPs, Microsoft employees)  were invited to contribute to suggestions related to anything Microsoft Project. I participated in the User Voice that was available at that time.  Unfortunately there was a period where it really wasn’t being used or viewed and of course many of us dropped off. I’m happy to see that it has returned and even customers have the ability to contribute to User Voice. Since this is truly open to all users, I’m excited to see the great ideas that rise to the top.

Note – For those of you who remember a long time ago there was something called the Microsoft Project Wish List. I know I had customers who were complaining about that going away. Finally, it has been reinstated in a new way.

Here is how to access User Voice via Project Online:

  1. Login to your Office 365 account and navigate to Project
  2. In the Settings menu drop-down, click on PWA User Voice
  3. From there follow the instructions to get started

PWA User Voice Screen Shot

One of the greatest takeaways I want to give you is you can use User Voice to determine if there is a shortcoming in a feature before you spend hours upon hours trying to solve a problem or search out a solution. I’m often pleased to see a suggestion improvement idea because I can now share that with my customers and basically say “Microsoft already has that suggestion and you can view it here.”

Please let me know if you have found User Voice useful.

 

 

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