In between creating my own YouTube channel, celebrating 4 years together with my lovely wife, the first birthday of Louise and a holiday to Tuscany. I’ve also started drafting a new TPC series of posts. These will be about the most requested/useful/interesting/frustrating UserVoice items that are in the Microsoft Project UserVoice page.
Now because not all of you might be familiar with the UserVoice and what it means here’s a post about the Microsoft Project UserVoice. And just like the other About posts, it’s going to give you a in depth look at the service.
Introduction to UserVoice
From the UserVoice homepage you can find out straight away what the service is all about:
Transform product feedback into intelligent
data to drive product strategy
The service provides a way for Microsoft, and other companies, to prioritize updates in their products. In a very Agile minded IT world this is a powerful metric to have. UserVoice is giving you a instant feedback loop between you and your clients.
Microsoft uses UserVoice for most, of their consumer focused products. Products such as the Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook. But oddly enough not all the modern apps have a UserVoice page: Planner, Teams & Forms do. But Flow for instance has a Microsoft specific page, that looks a lot like the UserVoice interface, but isn’t. I couldn’t find any reason for this being different. But maybe this is because Flow is more a programmers tool and not aimed at the consumer market specifically? If anyone knows the answer, or has suggestions on why this is, please reach out in the comments.
Not all pages are created equal
It is interesting to notice the different URL’s and page layout on each of the UserVoice pages. It’s good to know that there is a wide range off options available to a company to include their feedback items. But more consistency in this would have been great.
Take a look at the Outlook one and then look at the Planner one. I think Outlook is an excellent example on how a UserVoice page should look. And the Planner page is just a very basic feedback gathering portal. Both of course serve their purpose: interacting with the users.
Votes and Signing up
And about the interaction, this is what you can do on a UserVoice page:
You can either vote directly or log on to a signed account first. Now I haven’t found much added value to generating a real named account. But basically you between 1 and 3 votes per item that you want to support. And you have a limited amount of votes per UserVoice page.
Voting is the way that Microsoft knows an item is highly desired or not particularly important. An item such as “Add PeoplePicker fields..” is on the top of the Project UserVoice pages and is now under review by the Project Group.
What is done with these items?
There is a status linked with each an item.
- Under review
Al tough self explanatory, let me briefly run through it:
(empty) really only means that Microsoft hasn’t formally taken action on this item.
If a item is under review there is a Microsoft team looking into the item and they are most probably gathering more information on what the item would mean for the product as well as assess if this is something Microsoft would like to invest time and development on.
If sufficient information is gathered and an internal approval is given to work on an item it will move to Planned status. This means that somewhere in the future there will be actions taken to complete the item completely or partly.
Started just let’s you know that Microsoft teams are working on providing the solution for the desired item. This doesn’t mean that you get exactly what the item states but will be Microsoft’s best effort to get the functionality included in the product.
Completed will let you know that actions have been taken. And a solution has been created and will role out soon. Soon depends on your version of the product.
Declined, will let people know that Microsoft will not take action on the item. This might be because it doesn’t see added value or there is a newer better version of the product that already solves the issue in another way. Or it could mean that Microsoft will not pursue the item because of a other strategy with the product. An example of this can be found here (A Word UserVoice item, that doesn’t contribute to the Cloud & Mobile strategy Microsoft has).
About the new series
And that’s basically all you need to know about UserVoice. It’s a very nice platform that allows direct interaction between consumers and producers. So let’s talk a bit more about the new series on TPC. Here’s the list of posts that are available:
UserVoice #1: Adding a Baseline Alias in Microsoft Project (with Cindy Lewis)
The Microsoft Project UserVoice page
There is (of course) a Microsoft Project UserVoice page. It currently holds close to 600 idea’s. A pretty niche product, I understand that. And I can state that it doesn’t have nearly the same amount of ideas in it as for instance Planner or Word.
But I do think that there is a lot more in the heads of the users on improvements in the product then these 600 idea’s. And that said, I think there could be a lot more voters and interaction on the pages as well.
That People picker example has (only) 195 votes. That’s even less votes then the day by day views on this blog! And it has been there since January 2016! That means that if 1 person, voted with 1 vote on it per week it would have gotten more votes! And this is the highest item on the page!
—end of RANT—
On to the serious side of the argument: There is too little interaction on the UserVoice. And therefore there is too little interaction between consumers and Microsoft on the needs in Microsoft Project and Project Online. And this by extension means that the product will not change our way anytime soon.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love MS Project and think it’s an amazing product. But it can become so much more when we chip in and take a little time to let Microsoft know what we need.
This is the plan
I will pick apart UserVoice entries on the blog (and maybe in the future on the Vlog as well). In a UserVoice related blog post I will discuss why it’s a good idea or why I’m not seeing any added value. And I will discuss the interaction so far on the item.
I’ll always end these posts with one call to action for you, my lovely reader.
This call to action is to go into the UserVoice item, and if you agree with the item, vote on it. An added bonus would be if you commented on it as well, maybe reference TPC? Pretty please?
Including MVP support
And I’m not going to do this series on my own. I will include the Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (go to this page if you don’t know who they are). I’ve discussed some of the MVP’s previously on the blog, such as Peter, Cindy, Gary, Raphael and Prasanna.
I’ll reach out to them to ask them to contribute a short section in which they talk about an item.
First up: Cindy Lewis. I’ve previously collaborated with her on the blog in regards to the book review Hit Refresh.
Just one quick note at the end this time.
I’m working hard on getting the new YouTube channel up and running, and it would help me out tremendously if you visited it and interacted with the content that’s already on it.
Subscriptions are a huge help as well as likes on video’s, they make sure YouTube knows that it’s quality content and puts it on top of searches. I’d be very grateful if you took some time today and went over to The Project Corner Vlog and interacted.
There’s also a free memberships newsletter, in which I include content related to the video’s. You can sign up to it by filling in the form here.
That being said, thank you so much for reading all the way to the end. I hope you like the idea on the new series. Look forward to welcoming you back next time.
Erik van Hurck