It’s the end of another year and another release cycle at Safe Software. We’ve spent a calendar year researching, planning, building, and polishing the best FME products ever. I work with some truly brilliant people at Safe, but we can’t take all of the credit for FME. Our customers deserve just as much. It’s due to your insightful feedback that we we are able to take good products and make them great.
We’re now deep in the midst of release testing of FME Server 2014, (eating lots of pizza and downing lots of double-doubles during many a late night) and drawing up plans for what we’ll focus on in FME Server 2015 development.
As the Product Manager for FME Server, how do I answer the perplexing question ‘what should we build for FME Server 2015’? How can the direction we take make it the best ever?
How We Make FME Server Better
There is no magic bullet of course. There are many stakeholders. In my role, I focus on market evidence and I advocate for customer requests. Two of my best sources of evidence are:
- Our internal problem and enhancement request tracking system, which holds product feedback we receive throughout the year, and
- Our FME Server Annual Survey, which helps us validate assumptions and gather valuable market intelligence.
Problem and Enhancement Request Tracking
In the last two weeks I have personally reviewed over 800 FME Server related requests in our tracking system. These requests come directly from customer support cases and internal testing and scenario creation. Approximately 20% of our current FME Server customer base have contributed at least one request. The higher the number of customers asking for a request, the more important we consider it. I hope that this highlights the value of your feedback throughout the year. If you have any problems or enhancement ideas, we want to hear from you.
FME Server Annual Survey
The annual survey gives me another source of evidence. We formulate the questions based on the existing requests in our tracking system along with stakeholder feedback. I ask colleagues throughout the departments at Safe Software what they would ask customers given the chance, and then I incorporate their questions into the survey.
Last year we received responses from over 15% of FME Server customers. All of this evidence was then taken into planning sessions where we planned the main features for the upcoming release, which we affectionately call “big rocks.” The final release never looks exactly like the initial plans, because our plans are fluid and respond to the market, but the end product is always better than we envisioned!
Last Year’s Survey Results
I’d like to briefly show you a few of last year’s results and how we addressed them. Actually, I’d like to spend a couple of hours showing you everything we put into FME Server 2014, but I’m told I have to keep it brief or Santa won’t bring me any presents. So…
When asked about what capabilities were the most important, 80% of respondents said ‘Automating workflows’ was very important. As well, 35% of respondents indicated that an enhancement for ‘Workflow Management’ is the most important. In fact, workflow management has been the top requested enhancement for 2 years running.
So for 2014 we addressed it. You can now create a controller workspace that runs a bunch of other workspaces in sequence with no additional license required to run the child workspaces. I’ve seen dozens of cases where this will help and I am very proud that we have this capability in FME Server 2014.
Web User Interface enhancements were requested from 33% of respondents, making it the second highest request. As well, 60% of respondents only use the web interface and don’t bother with a custom interface. So for 2014 you’ll notice a number of enhancements for more intuitive form input controls and tooltips next to parameters.
My last highlight is about Availability, which was reported as the most important feature or quality of FME Server with 55% labeling it very important. FME Server absolutely supports high availability and to make it clear what is supported and how it can be configured we have added a knowledge base landing page that discusses the main approaches.
I wish I had more time to tell you about all of the new features in FME Server 2014. I guess you will have to join us in January for the Deep Dive webinar.
Vote for the FME Server 2015 YOU Want
More than ever, we need your feedback. Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data. These are relatively new and amorphous concepts. Change is rapid, focus is required, and your feedback is vital. Please help us focus our development of FME Server 2015 to the enhancements you believe are the most important – complete the FME Server Annual Survey for 2013.
Thank you for being such great customers!
Sincerely and with warm regards,
EDITED: The FME Server Annual Survey for 2013 is now closed. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. If you have ideas or feedback, please don’t let this stop you – share them with us any time! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use this online form. We look forward to making FME Server even better over the next year.