Bamboo Applications & Accelerators’ 2013 Year in Review with ‘Bamboo PM Girl’

Editor’s note: Continuing our annual tradition, we’d like to invite you to join us in reflecting on some significant events from the past “Year in Bamboo,” and to offer a glimpse into what the future holds for our customers. We get the series underway with the view from Bamboo’s Solutions Center and will wrap up with the perspectives of our product managers, with each of them offering considered thoughts on the products they oversee.

Early 2013 saw some consolidation in the ownership of Bamboo products from a Product Management perspective.  I’m guessing it’s safe to say that your year became more challenging, having suddenly found yourself with more products on your plate.  How did you balance the load?

It’s not an easy balancing act. My plan of attack for suddenly having half of the 70+ products was to focus on making our products available for SharePoint 2013 as the number one priority. Next, focus on enhancements and bug fixes for the most in-demand products, such as Project Management Central, Calendar Plus, Data-Viewer, etc. And throughout the process, any products that require immediate fixes for customers.

Since I’m also responsible for ensuring that when the products are released they have supporting product documentation, and I have to write a lot of these documents as well as the content for the storefront product pages, I had to let go of some things. Most notably, these things included giving PM Central Mobile, a component of my main product, Project Management Central, to another product manager.

Our engineering and QA teams have been great resources. Not only have they done a great job with development and testing, but they also helped me with the documentation. I would not be able to get things out of the door on schedule without them!

Given the extra products in your portfolio, was it a blessing or a curse that one of the core development efforts of the year was the porting of virtually Bamboo’s entire product line to SharePoint 2013 (i.e., your first priority)?

I’m not sure about the “blessing or curse” part, but it was definitely a challenge. It’s hard to tell customers that the enhancements that they want are delayed because we have to get the products for SharePoint 2013 out first.

Were there any surprises in store for you- customer base, marketplace performance, or otherwise- in overseeing the new products whose direction you oversaw this year?

With Microsoft introducing SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online, I’m a bit surprised that, based on customer feedback to our survey, most of them are still on SharePoint 2010, on-premises, and have no plan to move to SharePoint 2013 or to the cloud in the near future. Therefore, our focus for the next year will still mainly be on our on-premises SharePoint 2010 and 2013 customers, with some changes to support SharePoint Online.

I expect the news that the Product Management Group will grow next week (with the addition of a new team member) to come as a relief as you plan for the year ahead.  Do you know yet which products will remain in your stable?  Are there any you now feel a bond with that you hope to retain?

I’m glad that we are able to get additional help. Hanif Khalid is moving from the Sales team to our product team as our new Product Manager. Since he is new in the role, we don’t want to burden him with too many products. Tree View Web Part, List Rotator, and Grants Management Solution Accelerator, all of which I’m responsible for currently, will be handed over to Hanif. As Hanif gets more comfortable with this role, I would love to push more products his way so I can have more time to focus on other products and do a better job, as well as focus more on the product line and the product strategy.

PM Central is your signature product, and 2013 was bookended with the twin milestones of the 4.0 and 4.1 releases (for both SharePoint 2010 and 2013), bringing users a wealth of new functionality and Microsoft Project integration.  Which features have been welcomed most gratefully so far by customers on each platform?  Do you have any personal favorites?

The 4.0 release has a lot of features and it took us over six months to get them done. I believe the following features have been well received by the customers who requested them, as well as by other users:

  • Show or Hide columns of list forms
  • Assign multiple resources to the same task
  • Provide the option to exclude lunchtime
  • Microsoft Project 2010/2013 Additional Integration Features – Map Resource Names from Microsoft Project to either the Resource field or the Assigned To field. Support for Forms-based Authentication (FBA)
  • “Lite” and “Standalone” Site Templates
  • Archive tool
  • Cost and Resource Management:
    • Find Resources – Resource or project managers can now find available resources based on the name, department, or role of the resource
    • Copy Resources – Resource or project managers can now copy multiple resources all at once from the Enterprise Resource Pool to the project’s resource pool

Speaking as a certified PMP with past experience as a project manager, my own favorites are:

  • Assign multiple resources to the same task
  • Find Resources – Resource or project managers can now find available resources based on the name, department, or role of the resource
  • Copy Resources – Resource or project managers can now copy multiple resources all at once from the Enterprise Resource Pool to the project’s resource pool
  • “Lite” and “Standalone” Site Templates

KMWorld named PM Central a “Trend-setting Product” of 2013, a prestigious selection.  As the product manager, that had to be pretty gratifying for you and the PM Central team, beyond the “Bamboo pride” we all feel with being awarded such an accolade, yes?

Yes, of course.

As a product manager, it is a balancing act to incorporate customer requirements as well as add those enhancements which I personally think are essential for project management. We don’t always get positive feedback. Therefore, when it is recognized by a well-known source such as KMWorld, it definitely gives me and the team gratification.

I know it’s unseemly of me to ask so early in the process, but any chance of a tease for some of the new features that will appear in the next release?

My main focus is to improve performance, scalability, and reliability, and to support other browsers besides Internet Explorer with PM Central. These changes are supported by, and based on, responses to our survey from existing customers.

Some of the new features include:

  • Ad hoc reporting
  • “On-demand” notification on Task/Work Requests
  • Task Management:
    • Dynamic Interface to quickly change from using Start Date and Due date to using Start Date and Work or to using Start Date and Duration from the interface, with the ability to turn this option on/off from the tool pane
    • Drag and Drop to create a parent-child relationship
  • Scrum for agile methodology template
  • Integration with a new social product for activity streams
  • “Live” tiles

What’s happening with Community Central?  What does the year ahead hold in store for that application?

Since the initial release of Community Central last year, we have not done much in the way of providing enhancements to it, mainly due to our resource constraints (and I’m part of that constraint). We did release version 1.1 this year, however, and we’re planning a major 2.0 release, with an additional Enterprise Social Central component and mobile app for the year ahead.

Discussion Board Plus and Time Tracking and Management are another pair of powerhouse applications under your purview, and both also saw major releases this year.  Would it be safe to assume the roadmap for those products will see that trend continuing in 2014?

Yes, absolutely.

Discussion Board Plus is the heart of Community Central. It is a popular product as part of the Community Central application, as well as a standalone product in its own right. My roadmap has some major enhancements for this product, including adding a mobile app component.

Time Tracking and Management (TTM) has started to see a lot of usage as a standalone product, in addition to its being part of the integration with Project Management Central (PM Central). Most of our customers who purchase the PM Suite use PM Central and TTM together. Our main focus for TTM includes improvements in reporting, providing a way to make the reports available to other external systems and integrate with them (i.e., SAP), and adding compatibility with other, non-IE browsers.

Any major upcoming developments for additional products, particularly any that you have reason to believe may remain on your plate beyond Hanif’s arrival as the newest member of the PMG team?

While our current focus is primarily on our existing customers, we also plan to make new SharePoint apps. Some of these, including Send Instant Message from lists and Quick “Bulk” Add, will be made available in the SharePoint App Store. A lighter version of our popular Calendar Plus will also be available as a SharePoint app.