As we get ready to release Rational Requirements Composer 2.0 next week, I thought it might be interesting for readers to understand the various client groups that have strong influence in developing the capabilities offered by Rational Requirements Composer.
One of the groups to see the earliest versions of products at IBM Rational is our design partners. Each design partner group represents a different segment of the Rational business. For example, the requirements design partners are a different group than the architecture management design partners. These small groups of customers begin working with us at the concept stage of a product. When IBM Rational product managers have an idea for a new product, they talk first to our design partners and discuss their ideas with them. There is no code written at this point. The product manager simply conveys ideas through conversation or maybe a slide presentation. Product managers may explain how this concept came to be – usually as a result of customer requests or complaints or the availability of a new technology developed by IBM research that allows us to now incorporate best practices in a tool.
After we’ve incorporated their feedback on the product concept, we start thinking about capabilities. Here, our design partners help us prioritize capabilities, platforms, and consumability issues such as performance, migration, and usability. Once we have working code from an early iteration, we give them demonstrations, and again they give us feedback which we do our best to incorporate. Often, we realize that something that seemed obvious to the development team isn’t quite so obvious to users of the product, so we go back to the drawing board to work on improvements.
Another program that’s been very useful in helping us deliver products is the Rational beta program. We have two different types of beta programs: open and managed. In the open beta program, anyone can download the code from jazz.net and give us feedback via both requirements and defects. In the“managed beta”, we are actively managing the beta program and the engagement with customers. In this program, certain customers agree to install the software, play with it, and give us feedback. For these managed beta customers, there’s a weekly meeting in which the development team demonstrates various capabilities and responds to any questions the customers may have. Any defects opened by these customers have high priority, because we want them to be able to continue testing the software, with as few issues as possible. In addition, managed beta clients complete a survey with their recommendation to ship, or not to ship, the product. These survey results are very important to IBM Executives.
Additionally our user experience team seeks as much customer involvement as they can get. The Users First Lounge at many Rational conferences is a great place for the user experience team to gather feedback on existing products and new product development, both working code and features expressed only in Requirements Composer User Interface storyboards. The user experience team also seeks out design partners and beta customers for one-on-one web conferences to elicit customer needs and validate designs.
These programs provide the entire Rational team with invaluable feedback from a large group of customers with a variety of needs. This ensures we don’t release a product that has totally missed the mark in terms of business value and software quality. As we release Rational Requirements Composer 2.0, we are very thankful to our design partners and beta program participants for all feedback to help us create an innovative, user-friendly, product that provides value to organizations in defining and managing their requirements.
For more information on these programs, please visit Early Programs. If you’d like to participate please email email@example.com for the Design Partner Program or firstname.lastname@example.org for the Beta Program.