Behind the Scenes: Cross-app feature development with Office PM Juan Karmy



It’s an experience as old as the personal computer itself. You’re working away on an Extremely Important Project, really making progress, when—ARGH! The app or operating system suddenly freezes up… and you hadn’t saved your work yet. You lose everything. DISASTER!  


This nightmare scenario is something that Microsoft Program Manager Juan Karmy and the rest of his team set out to fix, once and for all, several years ago in Office. As an Office “Shared PM,” he’s in an ideal position to help develop a cross-app solution for this common calamity. 


“The job title basically means I work on features that are launched across the Word, PowerPoint, and Excel desktop client for Windows and Mac platforms,” Juan explained. It’s a position he moved into after about half a decade of working in a variety of tech roles both in his native Chile and at Microsoft, where he started as a developer on the Office for Mac team. 


How Juan and others on his team developed a solution—dubbed smart save reminders—to handle the frustrating experience described above is a tale that has many twists and turns, encompassing different user scenarios, in-app pop-up messages, machine learning, the Office Insider program, and more. It’s all covered in our latest Insider “Behind the Scenes” interview! 


How did you decide to tackle the “crash before saving” scenario in Office apps? 


Juan: We started by trying to better understand what we internally call the “crash recovery” space. We looked at feedback from users, what our competitors were doing in that area, and where the potential gaps were in our apps. 


We decided to tackle the issue from a couple of angles: reactive and preventative. On the reactive side, I spent an entire year digging into the data to figure out how many people crashed, how many saw our Document Recovery experience, and how many were indeed able to recover their data from that experience. 


On the preventative side, we came across dozens, if not hundreds, of feedback comments from customers who lost critical documents, such as research papers. They were downright angry. So my focus went to, how can we help these users avoid data loss? Because I could feel their pain. 


We wanted our products to have an intelligent way to understand when users might be working on something that’s worth saving, and then prompt them to do so. That’s how my team and I eventually came up with smart save reminders. 




Take a look at the full blog post here.  



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