The HCL Digital Solutions Product Management team has streamlined the product ideation process for HCL Domino, HCL Domino Volt, HCL Sametime, HCL DX, HCL Connections, and HCL Volt MX.

We often get asked what our process is for how an idea becomes a feature and how best to submit an idea that will have a better chance of successfully becoming a reality.

This blog will help make the process more transparent, responding faster to our customers.

What Is an Ideas Portal, and Why Have One?

There are many factors that shape modern software development.  One of the most important is crowdsourcing feedback from our customers, specifically the users and administrators of our products. We have portals where customers can submit ideas for features and capabilities that they’d like to see happen for our products. By studying submissions and responses in our Ideas Portals, we understand more about how the product is being used and discover ways to make the experiences even better.

Submitting a New Idea

When you navigate to an Ideas Portal, you can select the “add a new idea” button. Some portals request you specify the product (because the portal contains more than one product). After that, add your idea, some details, and a category.  Categories help us to organize ideas and we may even recategorize your idea once we review it. Here’s a list of all our Digital Experience portals:

Domino idea portal including:

  • Notes  
  • Safelinx 
  • Sametime
  • Traveler 
  • Traveler for Microsoft Office (HTMO) 
  • Domino Volt 
  • Nomad 
  • Domino Verse
  • Leap
  • Enterprise Integrator
  • Domino Designer
  • Connector for SAP Solutions
  • Client Application Access
  • Admin Client 

When you’re ready to add your idea, please follow three steps (outlined below). While we want to gather and prioritize your ideas, we’d like you to vote and comment on other people’s ideas too. Here is our best practice to add an idea:

Step #1: Search first to see if your idea already exists. Please vote for any ideas and add any additional comments that you may relate to your idea.

Step #2: If your idea doesn’t yet exist, create a new idea and format it like this: 
“As a <insert role>, I would like to be able to <insert action> in order to <insert need>.”

Step #3: Create as many ideas as you’d like but remember to keep each idea as a separate entry repeating steps 1 and 2 above, i.e., do not create an idea that consists of more than one request for enhancement.

Ideation Workflow and Process

Once your idea has been submitted it moves its way through our custom process and we evaluate strategy alignment, technical feasibility and scheduling.  Below is a simplified diagram of our process with an explanation of each step in the process.

ideas cycle

All Ideas enter the system as “Needs Review.”  On a weekly basis Product Mangers (PMs) will examine that bucket of ideas and process them.

“Needs Clarification” is a possible outcome of a review because the PM does not understand the idea.  Here’s where you can make a huge contribution.

All ideas should be written as a “user story.”

As a person in my role, I want <this functionality>, so I get <this benefit>.

Example 1: As a Sametime meetings user, I want to have an interactive white board, so I can collaborate with peers and accelerate productivity through staying in one tool.

Example 2: As a Connections Wiki editor, I want the rich text editor buttons to stay on the visible screen as a scroll, to speed up the editing.

Notice, you are not telling us how to implement the idea but stating a need and a benefit.

Try to consider your fellow users and request features or fixes that could benefit many people, not just you, personally. This approach will increase the chances that your idea is accepted.

Once we understand the idea, the idea goes through a series of filters.  Is this already delivered? If yes, then we classify the ideas an “Already Exists.”  A more important question is: does this idea align with our goals for the product? Even if this is a great idea it could fail this test.  Be aware that we do not have unlimited resources and need to focus on the greatest benefit to the community of users.  So, do not take “No Plans to Implement” as a personal rejection.  It’s a business consideration, not a bad idea!

After the idea passes through this initial gauntlet of obstacles it is elevated to “Under Consideration.” If there are ideas that are similar in nature to this new idea, it will be merged with other ideas.  All votes under all the individual ideas are merged too, giving the merged idea more validity within the user community.

At this stage, we have a healthy backlog of ideas that can be promoted to a production feature. PMs triage this backlog and work in collaboration with our agile development staff to groom and size the idea into a deliverable story.

Sometimes an idea cannot be delivered for architectural reasons, or the feature is just too expensive to develop, and the benefit is too small.  For these reasons, ideas can be categorized as “No Plans to Implement.”

“Future Consideration” indicates that this is an idea we want to pursue, and we have the technical ability to deliver it, but cannot fit it in to the schedule at this time.  So, this idea is not assigned to a release.

“Assessment” begins the real work of user story decomposition and sizing. Items are being worked on by the development staff to quantify, understand and deliver the functionality.  For many reasons, the item cannot be committed to shipment date.

“Planning to Implement” is the most favorable outcome and indicate that resources are available, and we have the technical ability and we have space available to schedule this feature into a release on our board.

The final category is “Shipped.”  I don’t think this needs any explanation. 🙂

Closing Thoughts:

We trust this blog has given you transparency into an important process at HCL Digital Solutions. In Fy2023 you’ll see us encourage more customers to use all our Ideal Portals. Please look out for news on the topic in the coming months. In general, if you have questions about this blog, we are here to help.

Frank Fuchs
Digital Solutions Program Manager

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