This is a question that just about every PM at Microsoft has to answer frequently.
"What's your big picture?" or "How does this fit into the big picture?"
Our culture is one of visualization and we love our grand views. (Hidden pun most certainly intended... sometimes we love our big pictures a bit too much, but that's another blog entry). I suggest that you not only get used to answering this question if you work here, but that you also make sure everyone you know and everyone that you don't know understands your mental image. Because you never know where you're going to get that unexpected resource or vote of support. And when people know what your picture is they'll be on the lookout for your missing puzzle pieces.
"So your team writes these little toys (Developer Power Toys)?" Is a question/statement I get frequently. If that's all I can write on my review at the end of next year then I'll have failed. Our team writing these tools is only the first part of a vista that hasn't been painted yet. So let me paint a bigger picture for you that's task based.
"My team wrote this cool tool we'd love to ship to customers before Orcas+1 ships... what next"
Guess who has experience here? We do. We can help your team:
"How do we get customers to find our tool?"
If your release plan concludes with "Publish the installer to the MS Download center & write a blog post about the tool" then you're probably missing out. Your download numbers are going to be poor & your tool is going to collect dust on the download center & it isn't going to have the impact you were hoping for.
This is a huge problem at Microsoft today. It's part of the reason we have such serious feature creep into our core products. There's a belief, that's been proven valid, that if it's not in the box then customers won't benefit from it. I know this is a problem because I hear about 2-3 useful tools a month that are simply tossed over the wall to customers... never to be heard from again... effort wasted.
What our team is going to do is give you a ship vehicle or "channel" if you will for your Power Toy/Developer Solution. It's an acknowledgement that our team can't possibly understand the need of every developer & doesn't have the resources to ship every develop resource we should ship as a company. What does this channel consist of?
Keep in mind this is only the stuff our team is working on designed to help other teams be more successful with aftermarket solutions. This is only a corner of the team's charter. Let me quickly paint some of the other corners.
We're all here to make customers more successful with the product their using today and I love this problem space.