I have seen comments in the past (some disparaging) about our Epicor Ideas portal. I wanted to point out that this is getting lots of focus during the past year, and we are making changes to how we use this tool. The first changes have been released, and you can see them here: https://epicor-manufacturing.ideas.aha.io/?sort=popular
New Status categories… these are much more clear, and help you understand better what status your ideas are in. This includes a new status of “coming in next release”… Note that not all ideas have been updated yet, but we are working on this.
New Emphasis on our usage: Our product management team is using this tool and its new links to development to help develop and track our product roadmaps. Originally the Ideas page was launched as a standalone tool, but we are using more of the platform, and have linked it bi-directionally with Jira (the developers tool) and this allows for more interactive updates of ideas/solutions.
There is still more to come…
Please, please please, USE this tool. Search for and vote for your favorite ideas. Enter new ideas. We do take theses seriously and as you can see, several of the ideas that you have voted on ARE coming in the next release!
It’s great we have an ideas portal, at my last count (at the time of Insights) 15 related ERP ideas had actually had a status of shipped.
For a site that has been running for a number of years now this was not a great statistic. I appreciate since Insights more has now been shipped.
I do however have concerns of the things that are being classed as ideas as some items marked as shipped can relate to bug fixes or even vague statements. These should not be treated as ideas. Each idea should have a clear and tangible output. Hopefully then we can have some better statistics on what’s being delivered for customers.
I appreciate the update Tim, hopefully the bidirectional updates from Jira will help track the progress of an accepted idea.
That is great to hear, Tim. Ideation and Roadmap tools like UserVoice, Upvoty, and Aha! are a great for closing the software lifecycle loop - AKA DevOps. Each of these solutions have interesting capabilities that all depend on a popular question on this forum:
What Business Problem are we trying to solve?
What is Epicor hoping to do with the Ideas platform?
Aid @edge to discover the needs of the market that might create a competitive advantage?
Inform @Epic_Santiago where users are not utilizing existing functionality?
Tighten the entire feedback loop with users to make sure work doesn’t go too far before identifying real value?
Many would love to, but are limited by the arbitrary 50 votes. I understand the desire to make users think about what they are voting for, but is that more important than gleaning information from the user base? The limit is far worse when one considers the number of similar or duplicate requests. For example, search for “Inactive”. There are about 40 different ideas related to the handling of inactive records. There are ideas about handling inactive records for Ship-To, Ship Via, Warehouse (two: 1916 and 2454), Reason Code, Part Class, Part, Bin, Territory, GL Account, etc. There was one somewhat generic Idea about a consistent user experience with Inactive records (178), but that one was closed with duplicate in the text. Do we really want the Inactive category broken down that far? Who would waste that many votes? Nothing would look important to Epicor but if there was a broader inactive record idea, it may very well improve the usability of the product and garner more votes.
Let’s be honest, one could blow through 50 votes on the Kinetic UI alone.
Anyway, depending on the business problem, here are some suggestions so it doesn’t come across as just complaining.
Suggestions for Improvement
If getting user feedback is important to Epicor, remove the total vote limit. Reduce the number of votes per idea to one like UserVoice and Upvoty if you like but remove the 50 vote limit. The total limit wildly reduces user participation, and seriously undermines the claim that user ideas are taken seriously.
Curate the list. Add a status for Duplicate Ideas. Try to guide users toward actionable ideas that lead to a coherent roadmap item.
Have Customer Support search for existing ideas and encourage voting for them instead of instructing them to add a duplicate. Even better, take a page from Upvoty, and allow support to add the vote on behalf of the customer. That would be a huge boost to customer experience and help Support to inform development on hot issues.
Engage with the users! Provide feedback about difficulty to implement, other potential solutions, etc. Start a thread on EpiUsers to get to the basic need behind of the idea. Many times what we ask for specifically can be generalized into a single solution beneficial to many others.
I completely understand that getting many users in a wide array of industries to agree on something is a daunting task. But I believe that getting the discussion out in the open with Aha! and/or other collaborative tools will be beneficial to the users and Epicor.
I will talk to the team about the 50 vote limit, but there are other considerations that come into play. Since there are over 2200 Ideas out there… .a 50 vote limit does seem rather limiting.
Yes, this is a big job. As we find duplicates, we are merging the ideas. when they are merged, it releases the duplicate votes as well. Note also that once we complete a solution, the votes a released so you can use them for something else. You can also always remove your own votes to transition them to something more important.
ALSO if you see that something is coming next release, your votes are still tied until it is complete. but you could release your own votes if you like. Afterall, it is coming next release.
Re: duplicates, I would also say the search functionality needs improvement. Several times I have tried to find an existing idea to vote for, couldn’t find anything but then after I create my idea a similar idea magically appears in the right bar. Why didn’t that idea show up when I was searching in the first place? And at that point there is nothing I can do to fix the duplicate I just created.
To me this ties in with the concept of an actual product roadmap. Ideas are what we create/submit. Once it actually is ON the roadmap, it shouldn’t be an idea anymore, it should be a feature and features shouldn’t hold votes.
I personally agree with you and argued for this to be the case… but I lost that argument. The reason is that until it is actually completed, it is still “future” and could be removed last minute. Having the votes there still emphasizes its importance to the team. So for now, the votes stay active until complete.
Roadmaps change. We had an idea on the roadmap a year ago, and then it was pulled for something more important. IF we had removed the votes, then it would not have been visible now. That item was re-escalated because it had lots of votes and needed done.
But this contradicts the statement above that we can recall our votes once its showing that its in development. Yes timelines can change but once something has been deemed important enough to make it onto the roadmap, its not reasonable that it gets dropped completely. Pushed out, maybe, but aren’t the product owners tracking the importance and relative urgency of these items? If not why not?
This defeats the purpose of the portal. If it’s a democratic process as Epicor continues to tell us then we shouldn’t have to sacrifice votes, whatever boils to the top boils to the top. Obvious limits on single person voting on a single idea, but the overall limit is bogus.
With the number of ideas I have that I have not submitted I would already be out of votes, I’d have to pull votes from my own ideas just to vote on anyone else’s.
We’re all busy too and asking us the customer to manage the votes to that level is a lot. You could spend forever vote swapping.
well… sort of… we have two status codes. “In development” means that development has it, and it might be planed on the roadmap for a future plan. “In Next Release” typically means that it is mostly done, or in QA, and most likely will be completed with the next release. Yes, there is a chance that it could be rejected during the QA cycle, and not actually completed. This is the reason that the Ideas committee decided to NOT automatically release the votes.
I get it, it just feels like Epicor claims more credit than is warranted here. A lot of the user feedback captured in this thread has been provided over and over again going back to the beginning of Epicor ideas, and is still being ignored until now.
In consideration means that Development doesn’t even recognize it yet. In dev means that dev has accepted the issue and has built Jira stories to address it. BUT it may not yet be in the actual plan to complete it yet.
Both… but CURRENTLY, it is probably more of the Product Managers point of view. We are transitioning our business model to one that is more connected than before internally. So for right now, there are some things that may have some fuzzy lines in the definitions. They should be a lot more clear in the future.
Maybe more concise statuses in general or a status key would be helpful. Like just scrolling I saw an “Open - Submitted” what you described for “Under Consideration” sounds the same as submitted. Or is submitted actually put in a sprint? I would think “In Development” would be when it’s actually in a sprint.
I mean don’t let us tell your folks how to run their business, but transparency and optics Epicor does fail at often. Or rather… the optics of their transparency creates distrust and uncertainty.
Thank you. I know you’re the middle-man here taking the heat, and I do appreciate you taking up the cause.
I, like many others on this list, are not afraid to let people know when we have an idea, but if we are limited…
Is it possible that we are trying to do too much on one board? The person limiting the votes is trying to discern priority, which is understandable. However, ideation is supposed to be wide-open and a place to thrash out the real business value. Once an idea is well-baked as a candidate for a doable roadmap item, move it to another board where actual voting occurs. That way, you can reasonably ask people what do you want us to work on. Sure, a roadmap item could be cancelled in QA, but do really want to prevent users from submitting ideas? Heck, a new idea may very well cancel the need for a roadmap item but Epicor will build it anyway because they won’t know it because the better idea was blocked.
It sounds like maybe the business case for the Idea Portal is not really for user input, but to prioritize the backlog. If the decision is to continue to limit ideas, then may I suggest that EpiUsers create an Idea category and curate the user input? Maybe EpiUsers and the EUG could pitch in to get a subscription to Upvoty and do the ideation there? After real ideation work is complete, poll the users and, with a certain affirmative votes, a designate can add it to the Epicor Idea portal.
@jgiese.wci is spot on here. The optics are poor. The Portal is working as a barrier and not a collaboration tool. While we might get a workable roadmap, we’re most likely not building what the market needs. And it won’t be because the users won’t give their input. It will be because they can’t.