Typically, that would highlight the consultation services, sales, and the help desk, but with my background in the product development, I can’t help but blend these customer comments with some of my memories with the developers. Looking back at my past - I wrote our user guides for over 10 years - the spirit of how we do things certainly molded me into looking at every piece of software not from the feature point of view, but from the angle of helping utilities to get their job done easily. And if I ever did ask for a review on a manual piece that was neglecting that viewpoint, I was sure to get feedback.
Because as cheesy as it may sound, that’s what our product development people do on a daily basis. Whenever we’re developing features in cooperation with one or several utilities (which is most of the time), the product managers, key developers and usability experts in the project are involved with the project members from the utility side from the beginning. And that, to my belief, is where they find their motivation. They drill deep down into what the challenges of the utilities are in that particular case and what it actually is that needs to be accomplished there. Then, they not only turn that understanding into software specifications but also share their knowledge with the rest of the development team, even in the (long, and trust me, I mean really long) discussions on the teeniest tiniest details, pushing everyone to understand what it’s really about.
“We see this companionship very much as an asset.”
GIS Supervisor, CWLP
We also expose our software rather early to the customers involved in the development. The very same programmers who write the code, go out several times during the project and show the newest demos for the utility representatives, getting very important, early feedback on their work. After all, it is a whole different thing for a developer to discuss and see for themselves what the problem is, instead of having someone describe it to you.
What’s cool about it is that it’s not just about the understanding, but maybe even more importantly, about getting to know the people from the utilities. Bonding. You really do start to care when it’s not just some customer out there who wants this, but when it’s for John, or Sharrie, or Mark who you just sat down with. And I think our customer utilities appreciate it, too.
In Our Customers’ Words: Partnership
A little while ago, I had the chance to ask our North American customers what they think about working with us, and today, I am so proud to get to show this!
Of course, let’s face it, it’s not always easy. We, like any business, battle with balancing between available resources and the ever-so-long wish list, realizing that even though we’d love to have all of it done, and fast, it’s not going to be possible. So we make our difficult choices and prioritize, and are forced to go and disappoint someone - and on the side, often ourselves, as well. That’s life. Also, like any software development, ours is not bug-free, either. I have the highest respect for our testing team - they seriously know their stuff - but even with their professionalism and the help of the entire organization - the developers, consultants, documentation, help desk team members, really everybody participates in the testing one way or another - no matter how hard they all try, the reality is that at times, those darned bugs crawl into our otherwise marvelous software and don’t get found until after the release. So what do we do then? We go back and fix it, until it’s fixed - and yes, it gets frustrating at times.
And it shows, too, when you talk to our customers. I feel privileged, getting to catch small glimpses of that on camera and sharing that - our teams would be too modest to do it themselves, so getting to bring out their passion a little bit - that makes me smile all the way down to my heart of hearts.
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