Making Iteration Part of the Culture

If you’re a Firefox user, chances are you’ve had to go through a “Surprise” upgrade to the latest version. Over the last fifteen months, Mozilla has been releasing a new version every six weeks. While this hasn’t been kept a secret, it seems like few people in the Firefox user community are happy about the pace, or the lack of communication to the hundreds of millions of users, world-wide. But not all software releases are “discovered.” Some are highly anticipated.

One weekend in July, Workday converted all of their implementation tenants to Release 17. They roll out a new release every four months, and every implementation project team and client knew it was coming. As part of their deployment, every customer goes through a series of presentations by the Customer Success organization, explaining the process. The schedule had been posted on the Workday Community portal for over four months, and they already had us planning for Release 18 before Release 17 was available.

The following weekend, the production Sandbox tenants were converted to Release 17. Customers already in production had a couple of weeks to preview what would change, applied to their own data and business rules, and decide what new features to turn on. Workday then converted production customers in three waves, over the first three weekends in August. It’s all very orderly, well planned and utterly predictable. And more important, it’s highly valued by the customer base.

One of the key selling points for Workday is that they update three times a year, and customers are always on the current release. They continuously develop new features, crowd-sourced from the users on Community. Users propose new features, and the other users get to vote on them; the ideas are called Brainstorms. Many new features originate as Brainstorms. Activist users (and implementation partners) frequently contact other users in Community to advocate for their favored Brainstorms. It’s a “pull” system, designed to maximize the participation of the customer.

From generating ideas to the “automagic” conversion of the tenants over a weekend, the iteration of a new release is a highly-anticipated, positive user experience. And it’s a value inculcated by the Customer Success indoctrinations, as well as during the sales cycle. Workday and their partners and customers have made iteration a core component of their shared culture, to the benefit of all.