Doug Hadden, VP Products
The 2011 FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) conference ended last week after a packed agenda. The content useful for Public Financial Management (PFM) practitioners or FreeBalance Accountability Suite users was posted to this blog and the FreeBalance twitter account with the #fisc2011 has tag. As we described in an earlier post, FISC delegates are presented with the current product roadmap for the next two years. Delegates add new items and vote. We think that this is a good customer-centric practice rather than the traditional “here’s what you’re going to get” user group approach favoured by many software companies.
Don’t Call it a User Group!
The Steering Committee approach differs from User Groups:
- User Groups tend to be governed directly by customers. FreeBalance selects customers who can make a difference.
- Vendors typically present product, vision & roadmap at these events. There is no formal method of changing the roadmap. There is no domain knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer is an important FISC deliverable. The roadmap is adapted.
- Salespeople are prevalent at User Groups. There are no salespeople at FISC.
- Delegates pay their way to User Groups and pay entrance fee. FreeBalance contributes to these costs to ensure participation by thought leaders.
- Company executives are briefly accessible at User Groups. FreeBalance executives participate directly in the event, provide content and take part in domain and roadmap discussions.
User Groups own no percentage of vendor R&D budget. FISC owns 20% of the FreeBalance R&D budget.
FISC delegates voted on 43 application ideas, 6 of which were suggestedby the group and the rest by FreeBalance. These applications do not include those that have already been delivered or are contractually committed for delivery.
Current modules, sub-modules, add-ons and components include:
- Platform: 14 applications
- Configuration: 18 applications + 1 committed
- Capacity Building: 1 application
- Government Performance Management: 11 applications + 1 committed
- Public Financials Management (core financial apps): 4 applications
- Government Treasury Management: 3 applications + 2 committed
- Public Expenditures Management: 7 applications
- Government Receipts Management: 1 application
- Civil Service Management: 14 applications + 1 committed
Delegates were able to vote on the top 5 priorities. Results were rationalized to a scale of 0 to 100. The results were:
- 2 Very High Priority Requirements (Score Range: 91 to 100)
- 3 High Requirements (Score Range: 48 to 64)
- 7 Medium Requirements (Score Range: 18 to 27)
- 10 Low Requirements (Score Range: 7 to 14)
- 21 Very Low Requirements (Score: 0)
Some interesting observations:
- 10 Government Performance Management applications scored the most points and the highest average
- 8 Capacity Building, 8 Public Financial Management and 2 Government Treasury Management applications had medium scores
- 11 Government Receipts Management applications had very low scores
- There were 0 Civil Service Management applications because the current product footprint is large
- 3 of the top 4 vote getters already have FreeBalance market requirements
The annual FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) conference runs from January 16 – 19, 2011 in Madeira, Portugal. FISC provides an interactive forum to exchange Public Financial Management (PFM) good practices among international customers and PFM thought leaders. FISC drives the FreeBalance Accountability Suite product vision to direct FreeBalance GRP solutions. Previous FISC events were held in Mt. Tremblant, Canada (2010); Prague, Czech Republic (2009); Cascais, Portugal (2008); and London, United Kingdom (2007).