Getting Input

By MarkBurhop

When one of my friends asks me what I do at Siemens and I know they have seen the movie Office Space, I’ll say, “I take the specifications from the customer and bring them to the software engineers”.

It would be nice if I could just take an email (or fax) from a customer, forward it to the software engineer and have them implement it in the next release.  Unfortunately, there are many more inputs to this equation. Some things we have to think about are:

  • What do current customers want?

    • Is this customer a full time user of our software, an occasional user, a manager, a business owner or an IT manager?
    • How do you balance conflicting requirements from customers? Even users with the exact same job may have different ideas on how something should work.

  • What do prospective customers want?

    • Like any other business, we want to expand our market.
    • What do the folks in the field (sales,  training, marketing, application engineers) dealing with new and potential cusotmers everday say are good things? What do they say we should work on?

  • What new engineering, software, or hardware innovations can we take advantage of or even create in our product? Which ones do we need to prepare for?

    • These are the hard ones because it requires some future prediction.
    • Big innovations tend to be disruptive. How do we balance gain with impact to the customer?

We have processes in place for taking all these inputs and (hopefully) optimizing for the best possible product but as you see, its a bit more compliated that just forwarding email or taking a fax to a developer (note: I don’t think we use faxes anymore…that is just from the movie).

Now I’m sure at least one person out there reading this is saying, “This is all nice, but all I really want is this little tweak to Solid Edge to make it better for me”. Or, “I’ve got some great idea for your product.  How do I get it to you?”  I’ll talk about this next blog.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at