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Putting the Election into Feature Selection

written by Editor, 2 June 2014

Blog by Ian Manson, Product Manager of Digita Company Secretarial
Software development is a continual work in progress. It doesn’t stand still in the constantly evolving competitive, technological and especially regulatory environment.


This is just as much an issue for Digita Company Secretarial as for our tax and accounts solutions. In the near future, Companies House will replace their existing input and output systems which we will have to adapt to for electronic filing and record retrieval. On top of this, there are likely to be regulations for a new public register of companies’ beneficial owners.

Environment aside, our chief desire is to respond to our customers’ requests for enhancements and improvements. However, our users aren’t all the same and can have competing priorities. So, starting last year, we took to the road and held customer focus groups across the UK.

We met with a broad spectrum of users to better understand their priorities and align our development closely with their needs and wants. At each focus group we explained the feature priorities as we understood them and asked users whether they agreed or thought any should be added. Once we’d agreed a list of the top dozen or so priorities, we went to a poll.

Each delegate had a set number of votes and if there was one particular feature that was of overwhelming importance to a user, then they could place all of their votes on that single feature. Alternatively, they could spread their votes amongst several priorities. Once all of the votes had been cast, we were more confident that our revised priorities matched our users’.

But, unlike a show of hands, the fact that users could cast multiple votes allowed us to take into account features that were of special importance to some users – even if the demand wasn’t universal.

I don’t suppose that our modest exercise will win any awards from the Electoral Commission, but it did give us a greater degree of confidence that we are working to address the most important needs of our users. Furthermore, when we next meet up, we can give an update on which priorities we have delivered from the list we agreed.

So, even if you’ve had enough of the recent and upcoming elections, we do hope you’ll cast your votes on product development at the next Digita Focus Groups this Autumn.

Please comment below if you would like register your interest for the next focus groups.

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