Path to MVP – An Introduction to My Sitecore Product Idea

Mar 18, 2017MVP, Sitecore

I admit it – I’m a Sitecore junkie. I started working with the Enterprise CMS back in 2013. At the time, I was at a small digital agency on a pretty big Sitecore implementation. I was hooked from the first demo and, in 2016, I decided to pursue my Sitecore Strategist MVP nomination. To my knowledge, I am the only independent Sitecore professional that’s working on a new product module. This is how my story begins.

Where do you even start with a post like this? Well, how about we start at the beginning? Technology has always been a passion for me. I may have graduated from university with a Political Science degree, but I’ve known since the age of 19 that I’d find my way in software development. My passion wasn’t in code, though. I found my passion in the functionality of software and how powerful a good software tool could be to someone. I love user experience, functional design and everything to do with the “what” and “why” of software. I really enjoy coming up with solutions to problems and helping both the technical and non-technical sides understand the process and the path. The Sitecore CMS and I were introduced in 2013 while I was working for at Lightmaker – a small digital agency based in Orlando, Florida. My role, as it related to Sitecore, was a Digital Product Manager. In other words, it was my job to work with clients and figure out exactly what they wanted and then with designers and developers to actually bring it to life.

Why pursue Sitecore MVP?

I would say most technology professionals know that certifications can play a huge role in your career path and growth. Some aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, while others are highly coveted.

I attended the Sitecore Symposium conference in 2014 in Las Vegas and 2016 in New Orleans as well as the Sitecore User Group Conference (SUGCON) in 2016 as well. I saw first-hand at these three conferences, how respected Sitecore MVP’s are. The first Sitecore Strategist MVP I met was Sean Rusinko. I was really inspired and impressed by Sean’s knowledge of digital marketing in general, but especially of his grasp on Sitecore’s capabilities from a marketer’s perspective as well.

From that moment on, I wanted to be a Sitecore Strategist MVP, and I made it my personal and professional goal to do so.

Agency strategists and developers are at an advantage… As a Sitecore client, I only work on one project – my own!

But achieving MVP status isn’t easy; you have to convince a current (technology or strategy) MVP or a Sitecore employee to nominate you. That’s easier said than done, especially as a client. Agency strategists and developers are at an advantage because they work on multiple Sitecore projects and platforms per year. As a Sitecore client, I only work on one project – my own!

How would I go about seeking my Sitecore MVP nomination? I’d come up with a new Sitecore module idea, that’s how!

What inspired my Sitecore module idea?

If a Sitecore professional on the client side is at a disadvantage from an implementation perspective, we are at a distinct advantage from a functional perspective. In any given day, I spend at least 4 hours of my day logged into the Sitecore CMS. I know (almost) every nook and cranny of my CMS from a content editor and marketer’s perspective. I know both what my Sitecore CMS does well and what it lacks and that knowledge would serve as the inspiration for my Sitecore module idea. I’d come up with a new Sitecore product that solved the very problems I was experiencing! I also signed up to be on the Sitecore User Council as well. That means I get super-secret access to new feature concepts before anyone else. I even had to sign an oath of secrecy (actually, an NDA) not to talk about them before they’re released.
How do I go from “wouldn’t it be nice if…” to a viable software product?
My everyday use of the Sitecore CMS and my overall interest in the Sitecore platform were exactly what inspired my idea. But ideas are only the beginning. How in the heck am I going to go from a few random “wouldn’t it be nice if…” thoughts to a viable software product? That’s exactly what this blog post series is about.
Daniel Ruyter - Sitecore Marketing & Technology Pro

Who is Daniel Ruyter?

An Orlando, Florida Sitecore enthusiast and MVP hopeful, a marketing consultant, content creator and photographer.
One-Page Resume (PDF)Full Resume (PDF)

My Sitecore module idea – what am I doing, exactly?

I manage a team of Sitecore editors and designers and there are a few core issues that we struggle with every day. I started to notice that these areas either remained neglected or they took a large portion of our effort to optimize.
Sitecore Optimizer Dashboard

Sitecore Optimizer Dashboard

As a software professional, it made sense to attempt to come up with a set of tools to fix those problems and make our management of these areas more efficient. The challenges we encounter center around the following functional areas:
  • SEO Optimization
  • Content Optimization
  • Social Media Optimization
  • Quality & Accessibility Optimization
I don’t mean to sound overly secretive, but that’s all the detail I can provide you for now. I can’t give away the entire farm all at once. As I get closer to completing my project, I will share more about my idea and what I intend to do with it as well.

What are my project goals?

I’ve led a number of Sitecore implementations, but this is the first product that I’ve architected 100% on my own. Here are the goals I’ve defined for this Sitecore module project:
  • Create a full feature list in the four major functional areas (mentioned above)
  • Categorize each feature by its priority and size (level of effort)
  • Define a feature set that would be required for a minimum viable product
  • Create user stories and acceptance criteria for most major feature areas
  • Create user experience (UX) concepts for all minimum viable product features
  • Perform market research to provide information on product viability, marketability, pricing estimations and market potential

Will my Sitecore module ever be built?

When I first started this project, my original intention was simply to design a product so that I would be a better candidate for Strategist MVP nomination. The deeper I got into the product and the more detailed plans I built, the more I began to realize that this may actually be a viable product idea that could be brought to market.
Goal number one: define the minimum viable product (MVP) specs of my product.
I do hope that my product will eventually be built, and I have a few ideas of what comes after I complete the goals for my project. A few of the potential paths I could pursue include:
  • Form a team and build my Sitecore module
  • Approach a Sitecore agency with my product
  • Approach Sitecore themselves with my product
Ultimately, I don’t know what will become of my Sitecore module, but I’m really enjoying the process of architecting it, designing it and (now) writing about it. So if that’s all that ever comes of it, that will be fine with me as well.

Visit my Sitecore Strategist MVP pursuit hub.

I am creating an entire series of posts about my pursuit for a Sitecore Strategist MVP nomination. Return to the home page of this series and read more about my journey.

The Story Behind the Photo

Hyatt Regency - New Orleans, LA
This is where it all began. The photo on this post was taken at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, LA. I was attending the Sitecore User Group Conference (SUGCON) at the time. This is where I found the inspiration to begin my pursuit of Sitecore Strategist MVP.

The Hyatt Regency - New Orleans, LA

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