A few years ago, I remember speaking to the VSTS team about community. It was a formal presentation arranged by one of the old team members – where I was to talk about the importance of community support and how to win the hearts and minds of developers – and ultimately customers. I’m actually not claiming that I had anything to do with this – but embracing community is exactly what the VSTS team have been doing.
Over the years blogging has become an important tool for communication and education. In fact, I used to blog a LOT regarding VSTS but decided to stop after I saw that my blog was, in fact, second hand, to the blogs maintained by the VSTS team.
I was expecting this a bit sooner – better late than never – however, you can now follow the VSTS team on Twitter (my new social addiction it seems). Personally, I’m at the point where I need a better Twitter aggregator. Any suggestions?
I really enjoy being a Microsoft Regional Director and an MVP for Team System, however, I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if the VSTS team wasn’t as good as they are. They ABSOLUTELY get it! They have been nothing but open and engaging with “us” (the community at large) and work to continually add value to consumers of their product base on the feedback they hear (yes, they actually listen).
A great example of this is the Team System Power Tools – which the VSTS team release “out of stream” – working to provide customers value early and often without having for us to wait for service packs and major releases. The latest example of this is detailed on Brian Harry’s blog…
If you are a software vendor this practice is absolutely something you should consider adopting. First – listen to your customers and those who aren’t your customers (because they aren’t your customer for a very good reason). Next, don’t rely on Big Harry Audacious Releases to solve problems. Trickle out the value, get feedback early and often, work this value back into the core product and the world will be a happy place.
Of course, none of this works if you are a software consulting company where value is more determined by the contract you are bound to… but I’m not bitter.