There comes a time in every man/woman/undefined's life when we succumb to the masochists who fill the desks in our accounting departments and set our annual budgets. I'm using the term "masochist" with adoration. These people sign my paychecks.
#TheGreatMigration is no exception. SolarWinds has always been incredibly generous in ensuring we have enough budget to continually grow and develop our THWACK community. Not all companies are as generous - either they struggle with the concept of a community investment having significant ROI, or they believe a community is a one-time cost during setup, takes only meager moderation efforts, and can self-sustain itself until the end of time.
Even in our current state of abundance, we have to make some tough quarterly decisions on just what should be prioritized in our development budget.
What's more valuable? Allowing a user to open a support case from the community, or driving one of our biggest community engagement initiatives of the year? What's more critical? Solving a bug affecting blog posts, or doing A/B testing to determine if a new feature is worth spending money on?
Here's one place I've failed: I set a goal every six months to do the work necessary to modernize THWACK into a mobile-first experience. Is it critical? No. Is it valuable? Yes. Does my boss want it? Yes. Does my boss's boss want it? Super yes.
Have I delivered it? ...no.
Well then, how do I ever go about prioritizing the budget it takes to migrate my community? It's not easy. You have to say 'no' to things. In the same way you pinch pennies your professional life in order to live it up in retirement, it's a time and effort investment that will pay off. We watched Jive and Lithium go head-to-head for years in the external community space. When all the chips were down and it came time to show cards, Jive sold out, and Lithium doubled-down. It's only a matter of time before the Lithium platform grows exponentially out of the tier it currently shares with the JiveX-turned-Lithium JX product.
It's always going to have it's pain points, but I'd rather be at the bleeding edge of technology than be the community that couldn't catch up. So I make the cuts. I say "no" to feature requests. I do the work.
Who else out there is struggling to build a budget for their switch? What kind of cool features are losing out to your migrations? What kind of cool features are taking priority over a migration? I'm excited to hear what you think!
My name is Ben Garves. I'm a Senior Product Manager at SolarWinds, overseeing the success of our THWACK online community for IT professionals. We're a 150,000-member external community, currently on the Lithium JX platform.
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