Wishful Thinking: Turning Your Ideas into Enhancement Requests

The holidays have gotten me thinking about wishes, and since this post is about technology, I thought I would share my thoughts on technology wishes, or as they are more commonly known, enhancement requests.  In previous posts I have recommended creating a wish list of features you would like your technology to have, and I’ve also advised you to have a good working relationship with your technology vendors.  Now I want to get into more detail about how this works from both your perspective and the vendors who work with you to make all your dreams come true.  (Sarcasm?  A little.)

Over the years, I have reviewed and processed many enhancement requests, so I’ve seen just about everything, although I do still get an occasional surprise.  Here’s what I have learned by making a list and checking it twice.  Actually, it’s many lists checked many times, but I’m still on the Christmas kick.  So, you have a brilliant idea that you think someone needs to hear.  There are several things you should do before communicating your idea. 

First, do some research and ask the experts who know your technology if your idea can already be accomplished in a way you may not have considered.  Software used to manage dictation, transcription, speech recognition, and so on, can have very complex configurations, and sometimes there are parameters and settings that you may not be using because you didn’t know you needed them previously.  Also, make sure you are taking advantage of every feature you need that is currently available, especially if the technology vendor has an upgrade that you haven’t applied yet.  It is common for upgrades to get applied over the years without revisiting the system’s configuration to see what’s new.  Often, upgrades can be like Christmas (there I go again), with new features of varying size and complexity.  Take advantage of those upgrades.

If you come up empty in your research, then look at your idea in the context of your organization’s workflow.  Think about how your idea could be used in a broader context than just your environment.  As an enhancement reviewer, I can tell you that technology companies are more likely to invest resources on ideas that have a far-reaching appeal than a one-off idea that would only benefit one client.  So if you really want it, think about how other organizations could use the same feature.  Better yet, call your connections in other organizations and get their feedback about your idea, especially if they use the same product that you want to enhance.  Two heads or more are definitely better than one when designing a solid, practical new feature.

Jill Devrick is a Product Solutions Advisor with 3M Health Information Systems.

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