Discuss // At what point do you sacrifice perfection in order to release a product?
At what point do you sacrifice perfection in order to release a product?
It difficult to determine when you should sacrifice form (if ever) over function for a first-time entrepreneur. Is it better to make a product perfect, even if it means waiting to release past the set launch date? Or should you release it, even if it's not the best it can be yet?
We've established the term MVP for just this reason. We are ratcheting down expectations.
I would generally suggest the MVP priorities are 1.) reliability, 2.) demonstrate key benefits, 3.) cosmetics.
Reading between the lines, there is another factor that coule be playing behind your question: the infamous "feature creep." The leadership of the company needs to decide what is necessary and what is 'nice to have.' And they need to stick to it. Note: this is far easier to say than to do.
The key is making sure you have enough functionality to be of users to your clients/customers, and make sure the functionality that is present is of high quality. You don't really need to "sacrifice" features, just have a good roadmap that can show you and everyone inside/outside of the company when certain features are scheduled to be included throughout the up and coming development cycles. It's much better to have a product with 7 well thought out and executed features, than 20 features that feel like they were thrown in.
As long as you have a good roadmap, you can mitigate responses about this or that feature not being in it. When people see the good features you have currently, and see the schedule for when other features are coming in, they will be more likely to wait.
Without knowing all the details it's tough to give accurate advice. So in general terms startup projects are three phases - there's usually a time period where ideas and failure / rewrites are acceptable, and then a term of moving through 'we will do it right' and perfection, and then the period of 'we have to get this done now'. All three are important, and for large projects can last about a month each. If a product isn't ready to start deploying in three months, that's a bad sign in my experience, and likely to never ship. If you are in last phase - cut out all unnecessary feature, focus on minimally viable product, and trust the work in 'do it right phase' will shine through. If the second phase hasn't been done long enough - push back the date. Again, hard to know without more info.
No product will ever be perfect. Founders who think this end up in launch
paralysis because there will always be tweaks that can be made. Big bugs
that are glaring like major functionality not working are things to fix,
but I'm a fan of getting stuff out there in the world, letting people use
it, learning from it and making it better. You'll find out a lot of what
you did wrong (and right) when you launch your product. Don't be afraid of
being wrong because, inevitably, you cannot predict how people will use the
product as you are not necessarily the user (even if you are A user).
When you focus on what the product needs to do in order for users to
(easily) accomplish their goals, you'll find that you can strip SO much out
of your product so that any glaring major issues are obvious. Otherwise,
get it out there and get people using it.
Bill is dead on right. I would not start development without an MVP definition. Otherwise it is pure feature creep and you will have to "shoot the engineer and ship the product".
I would further suggest creating a Customer Requirements Document and breaking that into various development phase with the first being the MVP. When you start with Customer Requirements, then you have to talk to customers and find out what they will pay for. You are not the customer and what you like is not important.
Not to be flippant, but my answer is: Immediately.Perfect is the enemy of done.
Perfection never occurs, so waiting for it is a fool's errand to start with; someone will always come up with something else you can add that will make it "perfect.".
Getting close to perfection only occurs because you get feedback from your customers on how they want to use your application. It's hubris to believe you can achieve perfection before customers touch your product and teach you how they want to use it.
A release has to have a purpose, it has to meet a need. You can't release until a user can succeed at the set of use cases that go into that need.
It has to have a level of usability to insure that users can actually succeed at using it without frustration setting in.
It has to have a level of polish so users who encounter it don't think: "it looks like crap so it must work like crap." But remember that doesn't always mean massive effort on UI: just look at Google's home page.
I agree there is little information to go on here, but in my opinion the first order of business over everything is will a customer buy your product (with the minimum feature set) and will you make money selling it at that price.But if nobody will pay for it or use it there's no point, right?I come from a design background, and yes it's hard to let go of making it the best product and doing it right. I'm in the process now of building a product and we validated the business by selling the service (without the product being built) and made money. It felt great, the product is now being developed and does not look great but functions exactly as we want it too. I care more about launching a successful service and can revisit the overall design later.
For the most part, I would say immediately. Rather than think about perfect, think about good enough.
In some cases, good enough for a launch will basically be perfection, but that's only when there are catastrophic consequences of being wrong (think surgical equipment or NASA). Even then, there are effectively launches along the way to test.
Most of the time, good enough leaves a lot of room for improvement. But you still may need to wait past your launch date.
Jun 12, 2015
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