The Projector e3 Community – A Year in Review

It was around this time in 2013 that we formally launched the Projector e3 program, a community initiative designed to help educate, engage, and empower users of Projector’s PSA software. Before we actually launched the program we spent a great deal of time brainstorming the best way to implement a community group that would appeal to a broad spectrum of Projector users. Knowing the “build it and they will come” strategy will only take us so far, we settled on an approach that was organic, scalable, and, most importantly, value driven. With a plan in hand, some lofty aspirations, and a desire to build a stronger connection between our clients, our users, and us, we launched the e3 program not knowing exactly what to expect.

In chatting with a few colleagues recently I was reminded that an entire year has passed since we embarked on this journey. Just like the continuous development cycle that we help so many of our clients implement, I thought it might be a good time to take a step back and reflect. So here is a quick recap of the first year of our e3 program’s success, a few of the lessons we’ve learned, and a preview of what is coming next.

One of the main goals we established…

…when we first started the e3 program was to give users more resources when it comes time to learn about Projector. Everyone learns how to use a software solution a little differently. Some like to jump in head first and just start “playing” with a system. Others take a more disciplined approach and read the manual cover to cover. One of the areas where we thought we could add a great deal of value was in the form of live tutorials. And we have.

A major part of the Projector e3 program is an ongoing series of webinars covering a broad range of topics. About twice a month we host a new session that focuses in on an area of functionality in Projector. From tips to manage your projects better, to detailed workshops on creating custom reports, there really is something for everyone. The best part about these sessions is that we try to make them as interactive as possible. By taking questions from the attendees and working through real-world use cases, the conversation gets elevated above the standard “how-to” demonstration.

I think our most successful sessions so far was a round-table discussion that we hosted earlier this year on managing fixed price projects. For the discussion we invited four of our clients to come and chat about how they use Projector to manage fixed price work in their organization. Our panelists each had a different story to tell and each provoked an engaging conversation. One panelist shared their organization’s transition to accrual based accounting that has allowed them to standardize their revenue recognition process and gain more visibility into their fixed price work. Another panelist shared their strategy of using fixed price work to win new clients and transition into friendlier contract terms as the relationship matures. Regardless of what story was being told, each panelist brought some great real-word examples to the table to share with our e3 members. We can’t wait to host more round-table discussions as part of the community program.

In addition to these educational sessions, we also went on a little road trip. Because Projector is a cloud-based software-as-a-service solution most of the work we do with our clients is performed remotely. As such, we always jump at an opportunity for a face to face meeting, and earlier this year we did just that. Our COO, Steve Chong, and our User Experience Lead, Chris McFarlane, hopped in a car and drove south from our Boston headquarters down to the city of brotherly love—stopping in and visiting many of our clients on the way.

They had a great time checking in on some old friends…

…and meeting some new faces! Most importantly, they were able to get down in the trenches with our members and helped them brainstorm ways to enhance their usage of Projector. Chris held a handful of design review sessions to gather more feedback on ways to improve Projector’s user experience. Steve held a whole slew of conversations with organizations about their successes and struggles with the application, offering advice and sharing our plans for future enhancements. To make a long story short, they had a great time and can’t wait to do it again. Perhaps once the snow starts to fly here in Boston we’ll have to take another trip—I hear Australia is nice in January.

We learned a lot this year…

…and the message we are hearing from members is that they want more. More educational webinars. More design review sessions. More face-to-face events. And we’re happy to oblige.

Along with priming the pump, we’re also focusing on our delivery strategy; the key to a successful community. Going back to our original hypothesis that the “build it and they will come” approach might not be enough, we’ve heard from our members that our community assets need to be more accessible. Be it recordings of virtual sessions that we’ve hosted or conversations between Projector users about best practices and common struggles, we need to continue to improve the user experience for everyone in the Projector e3 community.

That is some great feedback for us…

…and it lines up nicely with our community roadmap. This first year was really about getting the word out. We’ve been talking with everyone we can about the Projector e3 program and it has been growing at a steady pace. In fact, nearly 95% of our clients are engaged with the community in one way or another. That’s a pretty impressive statistic.

This next year is really going to be about building the community out. We will be brainstorming a lot of ideas around the community’s expansion, but the two we are focusing on right now are planning and hosting more face-to-face events and implementing a robust platform to help our members connect. We’ll be announcing these events and platform changes as they develop, so keep an ear to the ground. Members are likely to start seeing a closer integration between community assets and Projector itself, expanded access to recordings of educational sessions, and regional events and workshops on a regular basis.

We will continue to learn more…

…as we continue to grow the community. For me, that is one of the most exciting aspects of being the community manager. We knew from the onset that the e3 community was going to be a program that we would need to develop, nurture, measure, and tweak over time. That is a big part of our DNA here at Projector, and it is the foundation on which we’ve built this community. As we make changes to the community, we plan on validating those changes with our members and incorporating their feedback every step of the way.

So if you haven’t gotten involved yet…

…what are you waiting for? The Projector e3 community is not only a great place to learn more about Projector itself, but it is a two-way channel between users of Projector, their peers at other organizations, and us. So if you want to learn more about a specific area of the application, learn how Projector users from other organizations solved a specific problem, or if you simply don’t know what you don’t know, join us in the community and let’s get a conversation started.

As for those of you that have been making the e3 community such a success, we thank you for your support, we welcome your feedback, and we are excited about continuing to help you learn more so you can do more with Projector.

And most importantly…

…stay tuned. There is more to come.

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