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Introducing Squiz Roadmap

Prioritising issues is often complex. This is especially the case when there are many people wanting input in the prioritisation process and is often contentious when those participants cannot see the factors that are being considered when determining which issues take precedence over their counterparts.

Squiz Roadmap is a social prioritisation system designed to allow its users to collaborate on the reporting, discussion and development of issues.

By considering the input of all users together in a collaborative, open and transparent system that prioritises issues by a configurable set of criteria, Squiz Roadmap aims to revolutionise the prioritisation process.

Squiz Managing Director, John-Paul Syriatowicz, took advantage of this year's Squiz International User Conference to unveil this latest offering from Squiz, explaining that its inspiration came from Squiz's own prioritisation challenges.

Squiz is an open-source business and we try to publish and be open about everything. Being able to invite others into the prioritisation process for our own company was a key element that was missing in our overall story. We built Squiz Roadmap to help us solve that problem.
                                                 John-Paul Syriatowicz, Squiz Managing Director

View John-Paul Syriatowicz's presentation of Squiz Roadmap at the 2011 Squiz International User Conference.

Squiz has been trialling Roadmap internally for the past few months with great success. With the unveiling of this new product, Syriatowicz announced that we are now opening our own Squiz Roadmap system up to our clients and other attendees of this year's user conference on a trial basis.

With the input and feedback of our users, we hope to be able to further build and improve on this product, resulting in a prioritisation system that can cater to everyone's needs.

Curious about what Squiz Roadmap has to offer? Let's take a look!

The Squiz Roadmap Dashboard

When you first open Squiz Roadmap, you are presented with the Roadmap dashboard. This is the central hub of your system, outlining and providing statistics on all of your projects and issues.

 The Roadmap Dashboard

But hold on just a moment! You're probably wondering what exactly projects and issues are.

An issue within Squiz Roadmap is anything that you want prioritised. For Squiz, these include bugs and requested features; but, really, an issue can be anything you need it to be. For example, if you were using Roadmap to decided which websites to migrate to a new platform, you could create an issue for each of your sites -- whatever needs prioritising.

Each of these issues are categorised under individual projects. For example, within Squiz, our issues are classified under projects correlating to each of our products - Squiz Matrix is one project, Squiz CMS, another, etc. Once again, these projects are purely configurable. In the example mentioned above, your project might be Site Migration; it all depends on your own personal configuration.

The Roadmap Project Switcher 

This enables you to easily manage the prioritisation of a number of different projects, each with any number of individual issues.

On the Squiz Roadmap Dashboard, you are provided with a comprehensive overview of all of the projects within your system, the progress of issues and even a timeline of your issues.

As with all the Squiz Suite products, the dashboard is entirely interactive, presenting you with statistics and data when you hover over individual tables, charts etc. You really do have a complete snapshot of your system right at your fingertips!

The Prioritisation Process

When an issue is created within Squiz Roadmap, it enters the prioritisation process. Now, keep in mind that you control who can create issues. You can allow any of your users to create issues, or limit it to only administrators or even just yourself. It's entirely up to you.

In Squiz's Roadmap system, we've opened issue creation to all our users. This is because we are using Roadmap as an issue tracker and, as such, our users need to be able to report bugs to us and request features.

Creating an issue couldn't be easier. Once a user is viewing a particular project screen, they can create a new issue at the click of a button, entering a title and description in a simple creation form.

The Create New Issue pop-up 

Once created, an issue is open to community involvement. Squiz Roadmap encourages community feedback and discussion with a comprehensive commenting system that allows users to voice their support for a particular issue or any concerns they might have. This allows for healthy debate and informative discussion, something we truly believe is an important step in the prioritisation of issues.

Additionally, Roadmap introduces the concept of user voting. You are able to allocate your users a specific number of votes to use in each of the projects in your system. When a user places a vote on an issue, they are promoting the issue and letting others know that it has support.

Users can choose to retract their vote within a specified time period of placing it, after which the vote will be locked.

By allowing you to limit the number of votes you provide to your users and locking in these votes after a configurable amount of time, Roadmap encourages users to carefully consider their voting strategy and which issues are the most important to them.

Votes can be unlocked manually by administrators at any time, for example, if an issue changes significantly and you would like your users to review their support of the issue in question. Users can choose to retract or confirm their vote in these circumstances. You can also configure votes to automatically unlock if an issue becomes stale, i.e. an issue that has not progressed after a specified length of time.

 Squiz Roadmap Voting 

This concept of voting allows you to understand the issues that resonate most within your user community, assisting in the prioritisation process so that you can deliver to your users on these particular issues.

However, it is impractical to prioritise issues based on user input alone. A number of other factors must be taken into account. For example, when considering new features in Squiz, we have to consider the effort and costs involved, the benefits to our users and even the commercial impact to our company.

This is why Squiz has developed a unique influence system, a value assigned to each issue derived from a series of configurable criteria.

This gives you complete control over the factors that matter to you. If cost management needs to be taken into account, you can configure an Influence Factor and set how costly an issue might be to your company - this factor would then contribute to an issue's influence.

Setting Influence Factors in Squiz Roadmap 

One of the great features of this system is that you can create specific criterion for each individual project on your system. Alternatively, you could configure your influence factors to be consistent system-wide, for all of your projects. This allows you to create appropriate influence criterion, no matter how alike or diverse your projects may be.

The influence of an issue is combined with any user votes to produce a score for each issue. This score represents both the practicality of an issue as well as interest from your user community. These scores are compared against each other to determine which issues rank the highest and may garner the most immediate attention.

Stay Up to Date

Nowadays, users expect to be able to stay up to date with the information that interests them, this will include the issues in your system. Squiz Roadmap makes it easy for users to track issues with comprehensive status settings and email subscriptions.

Squiz Roadmap allows you to assign a status to issues within your system. The best bit is that, like most things within Roadmap, these are completely configurable.

In Squiz's system, we have statuses like TestingCompleted and Released. Others might have statuses like Migrating or Discussion, it really depends on your own prioritisation process - you have complete control over these options.

With configurable statuses and a variety of status colours to choose from, your users will always be informed of where an issue is at in the prioritisation process.

But if that wasn't enough, users can choose to subscribe to (or watch) an issue that they have particular interest in. By subscribing to issues, users will receive email updates informing them of any changes to an issue. This might include new comments added to the issue or a change in status.

Subscribing to an Issue in Squiz Roadmap 

No matter where your users are, they will always have any updates sent directly to them. The more informed your users are of the progress of your issues, the greater the discussion and ongoing debate. This additional scrutiny at each stage of the prioritisation process results in an outcome that is more likely to be satisfying for all.

When is it Available?

We've yet to set a public release date for Squiz Roadmap, only because we are eager to hear the suggestions and feedback of the clients and users who have now been given access.

We want to know what you could use Roadmap for and what we can improve to make it the best prioritisation product we can. Rest assured, our goal is to bring you a product that is going to cater specifically to your needs, whatever they may be.

In the mean time, we'll be sure to keep you up-to-date with any new Squiz Roadmap information, so be sure to keep checking out the Squiz Blog for all the latest updates!

Squiz Labs

R & D division of Squiz Pty Ltd

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Squiz Labs is the research and development division of Squiz, the company behind the Squiz Suite of web experience management and development tools.

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