DES PLAINES, ILLINOIS, USA Mar. 17, 2000: Endeavor Information Systems set a precedent for the way software companies establish enhancement priorities with a customer driven product enhancement meeting on March 12 and 13 in Chicago. Endeavor brought 31 customers in from around the world to provide first-hand feedback for the Voyager integrated library management system's 2001 release.
Endeavor completely funded the trip to Chicago for the 31 Voyager enhancement subcommittee members, each of whom was appointed by the Voyager User Group Board as an expert in a particular functional area. Participants, who hailed from across the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia, represented the needs of more than 600 Voyager libraries of all sizes and types. To assist in this process, the subcommittee members learned more about the product management process and how to better communicate development priorities to Endeavor. The group also had face-to-face contact with Endeavor development professionals and met in specific functional area subcommittees to negotiate the top enhancements for Voyager's 2001 release.
"We feel this is a creative way to hone enhancement needs and a unique way to establish a dialog between our customers and Product Management," explained Kathryn Harnish, Voyager Product Manager. "The traditional methods by which other software vendors solicit enhancement feedback from customers don't really provide a coherent picture of the libraries' real needs. We feel strongly the only way to unearth and address the concerns of libraries is to talk to them, help them identify specific areas of need, then to focus our development efforts on those areas. This meeting is the first step in initiating that dialog."
"It's nice to be involved so I can explain to people what's happening—that there are many requests that must be prioritized," commented Heather Knights, Systems and Applications Manager at University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, England and member of the Circulation Enhancement Subcommittee. "We've gone through the lists, condensed some requests and we're well on the way to reaching a consensus. It's interesting that the users are choosing the changes, not the company."
"It's difficult to take what everyone wants, put the requests together, and still make them meaningful—it's not going to be easy, but we are looking at trends and building problem statements to deliver the requests to Endeavor. The solutions will work out," explained Maggie Rioux, Information Systems Librarian at Marine Biological Laboratory /Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Library Woods Hole, MA and member of the ImageServer Enhancement Subcommittee. "It's obvious that Endeavor's committed to this — it is one of the reasons for the formation of the User Group, and Endeavor does listen. There really is a commitment on both sides to take user wants and needs into account."
"It's not easy to make decisions about the most important areas to seek improvement," explained Randy Ericson, Associate University Librarian at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, member of the OPAC Enhancement Subcommittee and Voyager User Group Board Liaison to the Enhancement Committee. "This process to identify a few central areas for future development in each module has more promise than evaluating hundreds of individual requests. Each subcommittee can be more effective by selecting particular areas for Endeavor's consideration rather than focusing on many specific but unrelated details within the module."
Based in Des Plaines, Illinois, Endeavor Information Systems Incorporated is an employee-owned information technology company formed in September 1994. Over 600 academic and research libraries of every size have chosen Endeavor's high performance library system.For more information, visit Endeavor at www.endinfosys.com