Think, write, submit: New ideas portal for IBM Cloud

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bluemix-logo IBM Cloud is excited to announce a new system for submitting ideas for IBM Cloud Platform (Bluemix) and Services improvements. It is an integrated and automated feedback system to connect your ideas with IBM product and engineering teams. This new system will drive faster decisions and deliver better visibility for your ideas.

Submitting an idea

With a new system comes a new idea portal to enter your ideas and a new term: “structured idea.” The idea portal helps get your idea into an actionable state quicker, allows you to keep track of your ideas, and allows you to see and vote on other ideas that might benefit you. A “structured idea” takes a normal idea and provides just enough structure to make it more actionable and easier to decide on.

Submitting your idea is easy:

Click Add a new idea to start, then provide the following details:

  • Provide a structured idea short name: The first field is for a short name for your idea. The short name is key because it summarizes the entire idea with a few words and is how the idea will be referenced both externally and internally. For example, “Containers on Bluemix Dedicated” is a good short name for a structured idea. As you type in the short name field, a recommendation list displays based on the keywords that you type. This idea portal feature allows you to quickly see the same idea that has already been submitted. This way you can vote and comment on any prior ideas and add to our community of passionate developers and problem-solvers.
  • Enter as many specifics to get the fastest response: After you enter the short name, be sure to enter as many details as possible into the second field. Previously, ideas were being submitted without sufficient information for decisions and action. The new system helps deliver enough initial detail so that an offering manager can make a quicker decision on your idea. Here is some of the most important:
  • Provide a persona-based summary: It is imperative that you enter a persona-based summary in the following format: As a (your role/persona), I want (requirement). This approach helps focus your idea on the intended audience and on providing details that expand on the short name. For example, “As a Bluemix Dedicated developer, I want the ability to develop Containers for my hybrid cloud applications.”
  • Share a real-life scenario to explain the problem: Many idea submissions leave out this critical step of explaining the problem statement, pain points, and business impact with a real-life scenario. When you provide a real-life scenario to explain the problem, we can clearly understand the problem and what it means to you. Being clear here helps us deliver a solution that works with your specific situation in mind.
  • Mention current usage or workarounds to create a baseline: How are you are currently working around the problem? This information helps us create a baseline for how you are currently using the platform versus how you want to use it.
  • Propose solution(s) and benefit(s):
    After you have clarified the intended audience, the idea itself, the problem statement, and the current state, it is time for any proposed solutions and their benefits. You are the best person to propose a solution, and the best place to capture your proposed solution is in the structured idea.
  • State the roles impacted and their usage frequency: For extra credit, provide some details and expectations for the roles impacted, along with their usage frequency. For example, would a solution to this problem be used by administrators only once, or would it be used by developers every hour?

Voting is key!

Voting is important. The number of votes and the diversity of those who voted for an idea directly impacts the overall priority. More votes and diversity of voters translate to higher priority when the offering management team regularly prioritizes their ideas.

Overall, the more specific information that you provide up front, the faster we can expedite a decision on your idea. Important reminder: This system is for ideas and not for defects, support issues, or Q&A. For any defect or support needs, use the “get help” section under the Bluemix account menu. For technical Q&A, submit your question on Stack Overflow using the “ibm-bluemix” tag. For non-technical Q&A about the Bluemix offering and getting started, submit your question on IBM developerWorks Answers.

Idea Submission Process

So I have submitted my structured idea. Now what? This new system automatically notifies you about the progress of your idea. For example, it emails you when the status changes or when comments are added to your idea, such as responses from IBM. Our internal development systems are being integrated with this structured idea system, which means our offering managers will use your ideas to prioritize what gets sent to development to implement. Therefore, expect better feedback from this system as the idea flows through our process.

Currently there are 7 states for a structured idea: Needs Review, Returned for Specifics, Will Not Implement, Already Exists, Accepted, In Plan, Shipped.

Your new idea will start in the “Needs Review” state. It will require review by the owning offering management team in order to progress to “Return for Specifics”, “Will Not Implement”, “Already Exists”, or “Accepted.” Our offering management teams will be reviewing ideas more than once a week.

Missing key decision details in your initial structured idea write up will unfortunately slow down the process.

We know that we are being judged on the time that it takes to respond to your idea and how long it takes to get to a decision and action. So we aim to follow up as quickly as possible and provide you the best experience with our structured idea system!

If we find a duplicate idea in our system, we will set the status to “Already Exists”, link it to the previous idea, and provide you the idea number so that you can vote or add comments to that idea as part of our community. However, we expect the idea portal feature that displays a recommendation list of close matches to your idea when you enter your new idea’s short name to greatly cut down on duplicates.

If we decide not to move forward after carefully reviewing all pertinent details, the owning offering management team will set the idea to “Will Not Implement.” This status is no fun for either of us, but it is necessary to ensure we can deliver on items that mean the most to our customers. “Will Not Implement” can mean several different things, including:

  • The idea does not support a market requirement or there is not enough market demand for this idea.
  • The solution to this idea would rarely be used and/or be very costly.
  • The specific development team has the capacity for highest priority/critical items only and the idea has been deemed a medium or low priority comparatively.

Note: “Working as designed” will not be allowed in IBM as a reason not to implement under this system.

Final steps from idea to implementation

If the idea has been reviewed, passes the “Will Not Implement” requirements, does not “Already Exist”, and has been deemed a high priority idea that supports a market requirement, then your idea is moved to the “Accepted” status by the owning offering manager. This means your idea will be groomed in the offering manager’s backlog. Then after the idea is put into an epic and prioritized into development’s sprint, the idea is moved to “In Plan.” This status means that development is actively working on it even though it might be iterated on several times.

After the implementation is complete and the solution is ready for our customers, the idea will be set to the “Shipped” status. Congratulations! Your idea has made it from an idea portal entry through offering management, design, development, test, and has been packaged for deployment. Deployment might have its own process in order to get it to you, but it is ready. All ideas stay open regardless of their final states so that they are searchable. This way, anyone can see if an idea was shipped, not implemented, already existed, or is still in an intermediate state.

In summary, the more specific information you provide up front, the faster we can expedite a decision on your idea. It may seem like a great deal of information, but that is just one of a few attributes that delivers on structured idea value. The new system is a more integrated and automated feedback system to connect your ideas with IBM product and engineering teams. The idea portal delivers better visibility for your ideas through the seven current stages of the process; from idea to shipped.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. Happy submitting!


Product Owner - IBM Cloud IAM (Identity Access Management)

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