July 23, 2012      By Pat Pickren

Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock? One of my favorites was the story of the U.S. bill on an arduous journey to become a law. Maybe it was the combination of music and animation or that my future political science ambitions were already present that made this specific Schoolhouse Rock episode stay in my memory.

As we create products at Ultimate, how does this process work? How does product get from an idea all the way into a release? Is it as complicated as the bill “sitting on Capitol Hill,” then to committee, and then a long wait or veto at the President’s desk?

Fortunately, we don’t need a song to help explain the ideation process at Ultimate. The reason is that the process  is very simple and involves actively listening to our community of customers. It is no surprise that we have a fantastic group of partners. One of the highlights of the year is getting the chance to interact and hear from our customers at Connections, our annual customer conference. Do we have to wait 12 months until the next meeting in Las Vegas to listen? Absolutely not!

One of the ways that we listen is through our Ideas Community. One of the benefits of delivering in the cloud, is also joining a larger community. This is evidenced in our Ideas Community where customers are able to share ideas with each other, comment on those ideas, and voice their preference by voting an idea up or down. Here’s the great thing: Ultimate’s product team knows right away what things our collective partners want to see in our solution. In a sense we are crowdsourcing by tapping into the collective wisdom of our “crowd” of customers.

And our product managers are listening and pulling in ideas. In fact our community is so active that we’re working very hard to keep up with the ideas that they are creating. In many meetings with our product managers and development teams, I hear comments, “this is our customer’s #1 idea in this area.” I know that is music to the ears of our customers, who are looking forward to their suggestions coming to life in the product. Their ideas will not have to follow the same path of that bill waiting on a committee and then a President to sign.


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