Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Just Ship it"

When you develop on-line products "just do it", put features that will help the users, put the features incrementally, release often, listen to customers feedback and improve it.

Here is Sanaz Ahari's (who is a Microsoft program manager of views on product development which are very similar to what we are doing with Engineering Village product development:

"Just Ship It!

In big companies, processes and meetings are the norm. Many months are spent on planning features and arguing details with the goal of everyone reaching an agreement on what is the “right” thing for the customer.

That may be the right approach for shrink-wrapped software, but with the web we have an incredible advantage. Just ship it! Let the user tell you if it’s the right thing and if it’s not, hey you can fix it and ship it to the web the same day if you want! There is no word stronger than the customer’s - resist the urge to engage in long-winded meetings and arguments. Just ship it and prove a point.
Much easier said than done — this implies:

* Months of planning are not necessary.
* Months of writing specs are not necessary — specs should have the foundations nailed and details figured out and refined during the development phase. Don’t try to close all open issues and nail every single detail before development starts.
* Ship less features, but quality features.
* You don’t need a big bang approach with a whole new release and bunch of features. Give the users byte-size pieces that they can digest.
* If there are minor bugs, ship it as soon you have the core scenarios nailed and ship the bug fixes to web gradually after that.

The faster you get the user feedback the better. Ideas can sound great on paper but in practice turn out to be suboptimal. The sooner you find out about fundamental issues that are wrong with an idea, the better.

Once you iterate quickly and react on customer feedback, you will establish a customer connection. Remember the goal is to win the customer by building what they want."
via 37 Signals

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