9 to 5

When I first heard this name “9 to 5”, the comedy movie from yesteryears was the first thing that came to my mind.

Only when I drilled into this, did I realize that this is the name of a program (one of many such programs) that lets us connect with our customers. In this program, a Product Unit Manager and 3-4 hand selected people from across the organization visit a customer’s IT group - spending up to 3 days during typical working hours. During the visit we try to engage with the entire team, including business analysts, architects, project managers, developers, testers, and operations.

One new thing that the team does here is how we communicate what we learn back to our organization. Instead of writing a trip report we bring back a lot of rich media (by permission of course), including video, pictures, example documents, samples, and a ton of notes. Technically, we are now able to take our notes (that are time stamped) and automatically use it as an index into the screen video captured using Live Meeting. This way anyone in our division can hear and see first hand what we saw and skip right to the parts most relevant to their responsibilities. Additionally, we roll up what we learn and provide the division with a rich and detailed media experience –giving the division a strong sense our customer’s perspective, an understanding of how they work, their needs, their goals, and the context in which the work happens.

This is just getting started, but so far the engagement, interactions and the feedback have been very valuable. Also, the customers who we have interacted with as part of this program find this a good use of their time because they get a chance to interact first-hand with folks from the product team and also know that their input and feedback helps in us delivering a better product.