How Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager take product feedback from concept to release and beyond

About Intune and Configuration Manager

Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager is the industry leader in enterprise client management software. It is widely used by enterprise IT departments who are often tasked with managing hundreds to hundreds of thousands of company PCs and servers. Configuration Manager helps these IT departments ensure their company’s PCs get necessary business updates and business apps, while maintaining an up-to-date inventory of company computers.

As mobile devices became more prevalent and companies started thinking about how to enable their workforce to be productive across a diverse set of devices and scenarios, Microsoft introduced Intune, a cloud-based mobile device and application management solution. Today, many companies are running Configuration Manager and Intune simultaneously to support both PC and mobile device management. To ensure that they consistently deliver on the holistic needs of their customers, the Intune and Configuration Manager teams must work closely to ensure both products are delivering the features and experiences that matter most to customers and working well both together and individually.

Like many other organizations within Microsoft, the Intune and Configuration Manager teams strive to embrace customer- centric product development practices. Both teams rely heavily on customer feedback from multiple sources to identify missing functionalities and opportunities for improvement, validate their product roadmaps, and keep them focused on the right things.

One of those sources is UserVoice, a product management platform that enables product teams to make data-driven decisions about what they build based on customer feedback. The teams at Intune and Configuration Manager implemented UserVoice after hearing success stories from several other teams at Microsoft using the platform. Since then, they’ve been able to leverage UserVoice to streamline their processes for turning feedback into action in several significant ways.

Turning customer ideas into customer insight

With UserVoice, the Intune and Configuration Manager teams can better embrace the customer-centric product development practices that are deeply ingrained in Microsoft’s culture. UserVoice helps them hear directly from all of their customers, and gives them both the data and context they need to build products their customers love.

Both Intune and Configuration Manager have large communities of followers who actively share their ideas on how to make the product better. UserVoice aggregates feedback from all these customers into a single place, streamlining workflows for the Program Managers who are tasked with carefully listening to what customers are saying and reporting key findings to the leadership team.

With all the data in one place, Program Managers can quickly pull reports containing both the qualitative customer feedback and the quantitative data behind it and deliver this meaningful insight to decision makers who are then tasked with prioritizing what gets built and when.

Understanding what customers want most

As is the case at most organizations, acting on every customer request is simply not pragmatic for the Intune and Configuration Manager teams and therefore, careful prioritization is of the utmost importance. UserVoice data plays a key role in this stage of the development process.

“UserVoice gives us the ability to hear more clearly from our customers and prioritize. We have other tooling that helps us capture how many customers want something but this is the best tool for actually prioritizing their needs so far.” says, Mark Silvey, Engineering Manager.

Before implementing UserVoice, the teams used customer surveys to help them understand what features customers wanted most. While their surveys produced a healthy combination of qualitative and quantitative data, they didn’t always give the team the insight they needed to make informed decisions, the data often felt detached from the context of who it was coming from, and surveys typically only addressed a few parts of the product at a time.

“The big thing that was missing from feedback that we would get from surveys is priority. To me the biggest thing that UserVoice gives us is prioritization. UserVoice allows us to understand what customers really care about. When they’re given a limited number of votes and they have to decide “is feature A, B, or C more important,’ and beyond that, ‘is feature A 10 times more important than C and B or is it the same?’” says, Tyler Castaldo, Program Manager.

Now, with UserVoice, their feedback data covers every aspect of the product all the time, and they can easily see how important each customer request is by looking at how many votes it has and who’s voting for it.

The Intune and Configuration Manager teams pay particularly close attention to the most popular ideas at any given time and strive to deliver on customer requests as often as possible.

“Every time we ship I like to deliver something out of our top 10 ideas to customers. That’s really an opportunity for our customers to have a voice.” says, Mark Silvey, Engineering Manager.

Getting context into customer requests

Validating ideas and potential solutions before they’re built is an important step in the product development process, especially when many of your customers are large enterprise organizations.

UserVoice helps the teams at Intune and Configuration Manager ensure they’re making the right decisions by enabling them to connect directly with targeted groups of customers so they can get more context into customer requests, validate their own ideas, and get feedback on things they’re working on.

Sometimes, customers request features without providing much context into the “why,” or the problem that they’re trying to solve. UserVoice makes it easy to reach out directly to supporters of specific ideas and engage them in real conversations about their requests and dig into what their core problems are. Recently, this helped them understand why a customer request that neither team had heard before rose to the top of their forums.

“It was our top request for both Intune and Configuration Manager, for me that meant I had to dive in and get more detail. I was then able to use UserVoice to identify customers, I was able to send all 53 supporters of this item and email and get more context. It wasn’t on our radar at all before but now it’s on our things to do.” says, Tyler Castaldo, Program Manager.

The ability to connect with targeted groups of customers helps the Intune and Configuration Manager teams not only validate demand and understand customer problems, but also can be leveraged to get immediate feedback from customers once a feature is released.

Now, with UserVoice, the Intune and Configuration Manager teams are not only more customer centric but also able to better communicate with customers, ultimately helping them meet their CEO’s charge of being customer-centric.

“UserVoice gives us the ability to hear more clearly from our customers and prioritize. We have other tooling that helps us capture how many customers want something but this is the best tool for actually prioritizing their needs so far.

Mark Silvey Engineering Manager

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