We have some really cool new features being released in our eClinical software products, such as the launch of our Express EDCplus solution that puts powerful electronic data capture capabilities in the hands of sponsors and CROs. Before joining BioClinica, I had never worked for a software company and I find the process of determining what gets added to the products and what doesn't pretty fascinating.
eClinical Software Offerings
Each of our eClinical software offerings has a product manager, and each product manager is in charge of collecting feature requests for review as well as managing the release timeline. Feature requests come from many different places, but once on the list, they are treated the same. These ideas are reviewed by the product core team made up of representatives from different departments within the company. I am lucky to represent my department on several product core teams, so I have some insight as to how it is done.
Once a feature request is on the list, the core team determines the priority and is assigned to a targeted release. Members of this team can be passionate about the direction of the product and these discussions can become quite lively.
One example is the addition of status indicators in our electronic data capture Express EDC. Express EDC had an indicator used to designate that a form/visit/subject was data management reviewed. One customer asked for an additional level of review, and we were able to add three additional status indicators to be used as determined by our customers. This particular request came in via our operations group, was given a high priority by the product manager and implemented by the developers in a scheduled release.
"The voice of our customers is key. Hearing feature requests – and even more importantly, the underlying problem the request hopes to address – is essential to continuous product improvement. The challenge of balancing near and long term product goals hinges on understanding the business and process pains our customers and end users are experience."
– Chip deVillafranca, Director, eClinical Product Management
5 tips to Getting a Feature You Want into Any eClinical Software Product
In talking to users, it sometimes surprises me when they ask why we don't have a particular feature. Quite often the answer is that we never have been asked to include that feature.
- Find a Champion within the Software Company
If I believe the feature you want will benefit many of our customers and that it adds value to our product overall, I will promote this idea to the core team to get it included as a high priority so it can be included in an upcoming release. The key is to convince the team that your feature is beneficial for many users, and will make the product more attractive to current and potential users.
A use case describes how the new feature should work, and what goal it will accomplish. These can be simple or quite complex depending on the item. I think of this as telling the story about how the intended feature will benefit the users. A good use case can be a very compelling argument showing developers how the feature will impact the use of the system in a positive way. A sloppy use case can kill your feature idea.
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Good ideas can be pushed off until 'later,' and sometimes if we are not reminded of how good idea it is, they will fall off the list. A simple request for a status update to your champion will sometimes boost the status of your feature.
Having a feature requested by multiple users of the system show the vendor that the enhancement will be beneficial to others in the industry. A request by multiple users will get more attention from a vendor then targeted tweaks geared only to your specific use of the product.
If you have any ideas for any of our eClinical software products, please contact our help desk, or contact me directly.
If you are a BioClinica customer, you can come to our user group meeting to meet all of our product managers and see what is on each products roadmap!