One of my responsibilities on the team is to manage our community process. In C# we put an emphasis on having our team interact with the community – external customers, MVPs, internal users etc. We find that this brings our team closer to the customer – we understand their pain points more and eventually help push their feedback into the product more. We’ve seen this a couple of times already from our PM’s in conversations that go like: “Hey guys, the schedule is looking tight, can we think about cutting those changes to the widget feature?”. “Shaykat, you are out of your mind. Our MVP’s have said they want more kerfuffles on widgets plus its got 34 votes on the feedback site. Its a major pain point for our customers- Cyrus got at least 25 comments on his blog posts about the internal anatomy of widgets.”. Theres not much you can say to that.
Anyway, its still an interesting process on how to do a great job on community, since we have a large community and a small team. We have broken out the community into areas owned by individual PM’s, with one overall driver (me). So one PM owns our relationship with the MVP’s, another owns our Newsgroups responses, a third our overall blogging story etc. In addition we work with Marketing and the MSDN team to make sure our marketing initiatives and the MSDN C# page are all in sync with our pushes.
To really emphasize community we ask PM’s to set montly goals – and we collect these at the end of the month and communicate what we’ve done. Additionally we have a quarterly review with our PUM Scott, where we discuss what we did the last three months, and where we plan to go. This review is coming up next week and Im working on putting some slides together for it. One of the big items we want to do this time, is get metrics that track our community goals. In general we tend to say stuff like “We want to blog more” but its hard unless we have a specific measurable goal to strive for. No goal would be fully accurate or imply that we are doing the right thing, but we are pretty sure we can pick something that gets us in the area of customer goodness.
One thing I’ll try to figure out for this review – our team doesnt really scale to do community well. We have limited resources and a huge number of community tasks we can do- what do we do? As Scott Nonnenberg on our team suggestswe to prioritize our community work. I’m looking to come up with a plan of prioritizing certain community activities for certain parts of the product. For e.g. – with the upcoming B2 release, it makes sense for us to focus on cool content for customers.
Anyway, back to collection and ordering of slides.