Monday, August 12, 2013

Measure twice, cut once

Finally got a chance to try out writing on Medium, @ev's new platform for writing on the web. I loved the experience, and expect I'll use it some more in the months ahead to get out a few other posts I've been thinking about.

I wrote about a tough decision we made in 2010 to shut down Blogger's oldest feature: FTP publishing. (Back in 2010 I wrote about the announcement here.) The gist of the post is captured in the quote below, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.
It’s easy to say yes when a customer (or prospect) asks for a new feature: after all, if it’s just a day or two of engineering time, why not? But you quickly lose sight of the product you’re building: your product no longer has a coherent vision, and each new feature brings with it uncertain support costs that will last as long as the feature remains. Much harder — but much more important — is the discipline to question whether the feature is a required piece of what you’re building. New or old, easy or hard — if the feature does not support the overall product goals, it has to go. Customers and team-members alike respond to that discipline — particularly if it results in better support, more predictable development, and a clearer understanding of what it is you’re trying to build.

1 comment:

  1. This post is so true, I worked for a company that followed the cash, and would happily add requested features without considering the longer term effect this was to have on the business and the product. I did at one time ask them to consider stopping and fixing everything that did not already work before they added another customer feature, they considered if for a short while as customers withheld payments, but as soon as that situation was resolved, they return to their old ways.

    As such the product has now grown into a monster, with management jumping for the next big cash opportunity. As a result its development team are busy plugging gaps and trying to appease many un-happy customers, who's requested feature is now like a dead leaf on a tree.

    Whilst they are making money, they will continue, but they fail to see the link between, high staff turnover, customer dissatisfaction and a seriously bad reputation in the industry which will one day take its toll.

    I currently run a business to provide a web service solution as a result of that bad decision making, so for me it has become an opportunity, although I do have one eye on the fact that this could all end and affect my business, so I have ensured my service can stand alone if the other fails, or in a number of cases when the client jumps ship and leaves them, I can continue providing my services.