CommunitiesAt the CA Regional Exchange this year (CARE), CA Technologies went live with a new website for  The Online Communities have been designed to allow customers to help other customers and stay informed on the latest product news and information.  Of the software vendors I’ve worked with, CA understands the value in social media, online communities, and even offline community involvement.  Local and global user groups had already existed with CA and their primary means of communication was email, webcasts, and message boards.  What the new site will allow is a more personal and integrated control set.  Individual members can now have a unique and customizable profile, a wall for posts and statuses similar to Facebook, their own blog, rss feed content, and more (coming soon).  The groups both global and regional have far better capabilities than they used to.  This includes event calendars, group blogs, welcome statements, membership listing, member ‘mass’ emailer, and individual message boards.

The new site without question shows the potential, and in my mind, helps to make CA an even better software or technology vendor.  If you’re a manager or someone who makes or influences purchasing decisions.  Before you buy, you need to ask yourself, “How is this application supported?”  Know the user base, know if there are communities and individuals outside of your company actively involved with the application and if there are local groups, join them!  I guarantee that not only will your organization and IT resources be better prepared to handle problems, but they will also be well positioned to succeed in projects that impact or contribute to the effected application.  The overall result being that the application is more successful in your organization.  I could dig even deeper here and state that it’s possible your ROI time may be decreased simply due to the community support and how they end up helping you.

For example, the Clarity Global Community has over 3,000 members.  Not all of them monitor the message boards mind you, but a great number do and are routinely posting and replying to one another.  Let’s say you have run into an issue in your QA environment, have scanned the logs, and know what code or term you want to search for.  You have three general places to find your answer prior to opening a support case with CA.  First, search the CA knowledge-base.  Second, search the user community message boards and blogs.  Third, search Google. Please do understand that possible answers or solutions in the forums should be tested thoroughly in your lower environments before considering them a successful fix.  In many cases it may not be a bad idea to open a CA support ticket even if you think you have solved your problem because CA support will let you know if your resolution is a supported function.  Lastly, reporting your fixes to CA is a good idea as it could help expand their online knowledge-base.

I can’t express enough how helpful user community message boards are to customer satisfaction and productivity.  As I said previously, if you’re ever considering a software purchase, know what the quality of the support is like for that specific vendor and how many people who are out there that can help in solving your potential issues.  It makes an incredible difference. CA Technologies has taken a great step in enhancing their user community and in time it can only get better.  Check out Jackie Kahle’s blog post here, “Is Support the New Sales?”