dmSwitchboard12 Version 2, what will the Ghosts make of you?

ID-100208158I recently introduced you to my Ghosts of Product Managers Past, Present and Future. Now here’s a problem for those Ghosts to solve.

We have just released dmSwitchboard12 Version 2. This is our hosted switchboard, which is universally agreed to be the best in the world, (from a sample base of myself and some people whose livelihoods are dependent on it).

In September 2012 we launched the first version: a “revolutionary” release, i.e. lots of new features (by my count it included more than 20 world firsts!). Since then various features have come in as patches, and with this version a shed-load of “evolutionary” features (i.e. not world firsts, but building on the successes of the first version to keep our users happy).  It’s in preview, meaning that “early experience” customers can use it, but it is not being offered as a default for new customers, and there is no sunset of v1 for the existing customers.

What did my Ghosts think of this? Remember we have :

  • Bill, Ghost of Product Management Past,
  • Steve, Ghost of PdM Present, and
  • I (Rob) will play the role of the future Ghost, for argument’s sake, just to get them talking.

Steve: The most important thing is to keep the product looking simple.

Bill: No, no, add loads of features which have been requested by the users!

Rob: Remember, guys, we want to lay foundations for future releases (particularly “Unified Business” integration), with some taster features.

Steve: Why not just surprise them with something really cool?

Bill: That works for me!

So, having brought my Ghosts to compromise, we have:

  1. introduced layering of features
    • only essential and simple features are in the immediate layer (Steve’s plan)
    • the rest go under “advanced options” (Bill’s preferences included, so no one at Microsoft throws any chairs)
  2. given people a clear path in and out of the new version. It’s important that any upgrade is not one-way (we don’t want a situation reminiscent of William Hague’s “the euro is a burning building with no exits”), so there should be an upgrade AND downgrade option. It’s one thing if your new version of Android does not support “Zombie Super Pigs”, but switchboards are part of company’s business process.
    • Steve: Make the product so perfect that you don’t need to give them an out!

And before we go to the live release, we will:

  1. do some gardening on the glossary tree: terms are really important (Steve approves)
  2. create some videos and planned journeys based on user types and typical cases (Stevewants us to keep them simple)
  3. not try to make it as minimalistic as Apple does! One needs to spend millions of pounds to get products of this complexity looking swish (a lot of companies try this and get it very wrong!)
    • Steve: At least you’re admitting that you’re not as good as me, Rob!

For all the product managers and would-be products managers out there, why not borrow my Ghosts and give them a grilling the next time you come up against a particularly tough PdM problem.

And now a word from our sponsors…

I, Rob Darwin, hope very much that you have enjoyed this blog article (and I’m sure the Ghosts would concur)!

If you did, why not chuck out your old switchboard, or PABX if you have one, then rush down and buy one?

…in fact they’re such fun, why not buy two?

This entry was posted in Product Management and tagged Apple, Bill Gates, Digital Mail, Ghost of PdM Future, Ghost of PdM Past, Ghost of PdM Present, Ghosts of Product Management, Steve Jobs, VOIP (Voice Over IP) on July 5, 2013.

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