Software Requirements and Social Media - An Interview with Stefano Rizzo

[interview]
Summary:

Stefano Rizzo introduces the idea of using social media to encourage customers to get involved in the requirements gathering process. Learn how by introducing something that your customers are already contributing towards, you can capture the mood behind their true wants and needs.

Noel: Hello. This is Noel Wurst with TechWell and I am speaking today with Stefano Rizzo who is going to be speaking at the Agile Development/Better Software Conference East on Wednesday, November 13th giving a presentation called “Requirements Elicitation the Social Media Way.” How are you doing this morning, Stefano? 

Stefano: Good morning. Thank you for calling. 

Noel: Sure. I was really interested in speaking with you. Social media is obviously, one of the concepts that's easy for a lot of people to grasp but, at the same time, a lot of people don't really see, not so much the value in it but they don't see how widely you can apply social media across a broad spectrum of things to get enhanced results from before we had social media. I was curious as to how it works with requirements and how you got started connecting those two and what benefits you’ve gotten. 

Stefano: Most of our customers involve many different stakeholders with our technology. We speak normally with big enterprises and these big enterprises, some of them, have an office or a role function for tools and methods. There is somebody which is our counterpart. Users inside these companies make up a lot of different type of users. They normally send their requests or they demand their requirements to this office which acts as a filter. We get only major requests. We don't catch daily problems in using our technology. We don't catch the mood of people using our technology. We cannot catch those minor things that normally have usability improvements for our technology. 

So we decided to use the social way to engage more users. To do that, we started hosting user groups and we were encouraging our customers to come to visit user meetings, user conferences, meet each other, and then create user forums and communities who are using different kinds of social medias especially, let's say, CommuniDesk. We encourage all the participants and involve more colleagues. We're just giving them some giveaways like t-shirts or whatever. [We were successful into that and we are pretty happy. We are harvesting a lot of requirements. We are, today, using these results, this feedback. This are mostly unsolicited feedback in improving our technology.  

Noel: That's really cool. I never really thought about it as far as being able to capture the mood. A lot of times, you just think about wanting to be able to put together some list that's going to have all the requirements or all the major ones. At the same time, the difference between looking at just a list of requirements that, like you said, that filter, that office is put together in just a Word document versus the input you get from a community. There's just a world of difference between those two. 

Stefano: That's right. It would be perfect to sit together with any user you have, but this is really impossible. We have thousand of customer companies with million users. You can't definitely sit together with each one.  

Noel: That's really cool. One of the other things that I read in the abstract for your session that I thought was interesting was, and with what you were just saying it already makes sense as I'm asking the question, but with what you said that a company can gain a better reputation by listing requirements this way, I was curious if you could go into what kind of reputation gain you can get from this.

About the author

Noel Wurst's picture Noel Wurst

Noel Wurst has written for numerous blogs, websites, newspapers, and magazines, and has presented educational conference sessions for those looking to become better writers. In his spare time, Noel can be found spending time with his wife and two sons—and tending to the food on his Big Green Egg. Noel eagerly looks forward to technology's future, while refusing to let go of the relics of the past.

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