Bamboo Solutions Center’s 2013 Year in Review with Julie Auletta

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 our product managers, with each of them offering considered thoughts on the products they oversee.

As the Director of Bamboo's Solutions Center, you've taken on more of a leadership role working with our Support and Services Teams, as well as with our Enterprise customers (and prospective Enterprise customers) over this past year.  How has that been going?

The Solutions Team has evolved to include many parts of the company that interface with our customers. We have an important responsibility to ensure that our customers are satisfied, and are leveraging their investment in Bamboo technology. We provide product demos and webinars, product support, product training, installation support services, and design and configuration services, as well as account management to ensure that our customers are satisfied and benefiting from their purchase(s). Our newest initiatives, which we are very excited about, involve the facelift of our online product documentation and video-based training areas that we hope to have available next year. Stay tuned for more details on both of these initiatives in 2014.

Susan Magnusson joined your Services Team this year, and is helping customers leverage their investment in Bamboo software.  The two of you are often coming and going to/from the office … is that the result of an increase in onsite engagements, Enterprise consultations, or both?

We are very happy to have Sue on our Team. Coming from many years with a large financial organization, she brings a wealth of practical SharePoint experience and an understanding of what end users and site administrators face in a large organization's implementation. She is quickly learning all about our Bamboo products and will be a great asset on our Services Team. She is also very involved in an exciting project to re-vamp our product documentation, which will allow our customers to more quickly find needed information about installing, configuring, and using our products. We are very excited about this evolution of our documentation – watch for more information about it in the new year.

Speaking of Services, has the Solutions Center engaged in any Design and Configuration Services business this past year that isn't covered by a NDA, and that you're free to discuss?

One of the most popular services we offer is Design and Configuration for our PM Central application. During these engagements, we meet with the customer to learn about their current project management situation and needs. Then we work with them to recommend the best way to configure PM Central to meet those needs. We've worked with a wide range of companies from large, well known organizations and government departments to smaller groups and companies. We've accumulated a wealth of practical experience, from which each new customer benefits.

However, PM Central isn't the only product we offer Design and Configuration Services for. Our Services Team can help with any Bamboo product. Some of our most interesting engagements are those that come to us with requirements before any Bamboo products are even purchased! This is a great use of these services, as it often helps people determine which products to buy. One customer needed to build out an electronic files portal that tracked submissions from several different contractors. They needed dashboards, workflows, and other features. It was fun to work with them through the requirements process and present various options involving Bamboo products, as well as out-of-the-box SharePoint functionality that the customer wasn't previously aware of. In the end, the solution met their specific requirements, the customer became more knowledgeable about its features, and their return on investment was realized.

I understand there's been an uptick in attendance this year with the free Bamboo product webinars that you oversee … to what do you attribute this development? 

I give credit to our Marketing Team for the increased awareness of our webinars. These sessions are a great way to learn about the main applications we offer. In an hour, we talk about an application, how it is typically used, and the user benefits. We realize that when you sign up to attend a webinar weeks in advance, work can often get in the way. When things become busy, the first thing that tends to be dropped from a schedule is a free webinar. To address this, our Marketing Team now sends email reminders about webinars just a few days ahead. We've found that this short notice actually increases attendance. I enjoy having more people in a webinar because it leads to a wider range of interesting questions from the group. The more questions we get, the better we understand our customers' needs.

Is the increase in webinar attendance across the board, or does it tend to occur more prominently with some products than others?

I'd say the increase is across the board.

There was no SPC this year, but Bamboo sponsored and exhibited at a record number of conferences, and you worked your fair share of them.  Which event or events left the strongest impression?  (No fair picking our own SharePoint Leadership Forum!)

I really like conferences targeted to business users. We did two this year that stand out for me: the Share Conference in Atlanta is a business-centric conference for companies wanting to get more out of SharePoint. This year was the second with Atlanta as a host city, and it's really one worth the consideration of attending. I like this conference because I hear a lot of use case scenarios about how business users are using (or trying to use) SharePoint in their organization(s). These are the types of users who benefit most from our products. We also did a virtual conference this year, the PM Expo. Attendees were Project Managers from all areas of the business community. It was our first virtual conference, but it won't be our last; the number of attendees was very high, and we had some great virtual conversations with visitors to our "booth." Since it was virtual, we had many Bamboo staff able to visit with attendees throughout the day.

While we're on the subject of conferences, let's touch on the two most frequent activities of the booth staff at these events: answering questions and delivering product demos. Which products were the most popular in terms of generating the most demo requests at the events you attended in 2013?

During conferences, I think most demos involve our PM Central product, and also our Workflow Conductor.

In talking with customers throughout the year, are there any current trends that you're seeing in the SharePoint world? 

It seems to me that SharePoint 2013 has provided a lot of encouragement for organizations to jump on the SharePoint bandwagon. Microsoft has made it really easy for small to medium-sized organizations to use Office 365 and SharePoint online. However, our larger customers seem to be a bit slower to migrate. I'd say the majority of our customers are on SharePoint 2010 with plans to migrate to 2013 sometime next year.

Can you share three facts about the Solutions Center with which our customers may be unaware?

I think of the Solutions Center as the part of Bamboo that interfaces with the customer after the sale. The Support Team, the Services Team, and Customer Success Group are all parts of the Solutions Center. We are always looking to improve our customer's experience. There may be several things about our Solutions Center that many people are unaware of:

  • Our Services Team includes our Trainers and also our product experts. They provide our product training, as well as other services around our products that may be needed. We are planning to offer some of our training as video-based so our customers can use them anytime, anywhere. We hope to have more news on this effort soon.
  • Our Services Team is unlike other services teams. We conduct service engagements with customers, rather than for customers. We review requirements, then discuss options and recommendations with each customer. Instead of building a solution for you and then showing you the results, we build it with you, so you will learn how it works and are better equipped to maintain it down the road. Business needs are constantly changing, and a business solution built today will probably need a few tweaks 6 or 9 months later. Our approach encourages independence and helps customers leverage their Bamboo investment in their changing business environment.
  • We are happy to help you design and configure a solution using any of our products. Most of our engagements involve our PM Central or our Workflow Conductor products, but we have also helped customers implement Knowledge Management, Grants Management, and other solutions.

I'd like to also mention our Customer Success Group, which provides account management for many of our customers. Often, when you purchase a Suite of Bamboo products, it's difficult to keep track of when new versions are available or which tools might help you solve a particular business problem. Your Bamboo Account Manager from our Customer Success Group is your primary Bamboo point of contact to help you leverage your investment.

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