Listening to customer input to drive product development is a claim vendors love to make. Now, one Scottsdale, Ariz.-based software company has institutionalized the concept into a democratic process.

For more than a decade, Computer Guidance Corp., which sells a wide range of construction business products, has planned product development using its annual user conferences and an initiative and balloting process, to steer development.


Customers propose enhancements throughout the year on the vendor’s Website. On the first day of users’ meetings, all proposals are shared. On the second day, clients send delegates to five application group sessions, where they pick 15 enhancements from their topic area for the final ballot. Ballots circulate later to all.

"It is one of the most valued features of our user conferences, that they tell us what they want us to develop, and we will do it based on their needs and requirements," says Roger D. Kirk, company president. This year’s ballot is about to go out.