Do We Need All these Features?

The answer is probably NO.

I guess we have all seen a somewhat “strange” requirement and wondered why the client had such a specific and odd requirement. In some cases the reason is that the client is legally obliged to place the project in an open bid. To ensure they get the system they’ve already decided they want, they might “tweak” the specs and thereby severely limiting the number of bidders.

You can try and provide a half-assed “solution” to meet the spec, and hope that the client will change their mind in the nick of time (how often does that happen?). But why chase these clients, and poison your platform with a bunch of poorly executed features? If you focus – REALLY focus, on the user experience and add meaningful thoughtful features then people will alter the spec to support your platform instead.

The trick is to understand when a spec is really a useful request, or if it is there just to fence you out of the bid. If people don’t want your product, it is not because you do not support the Apple Newton, but because the rest of your application is simply too shitty to compete. Instead of adding more shit to your already shitty app, you should consider improving and cleaning up the mess.

If your app stinks, it is difficult to instill a sense of pride in the product in the team. If there is no pride, there is no motivation, and with no motivation there is no productivity.

An amazing application with fever features will always beat a shitty app with a million features.

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2 thoughts on “Do We Need All these Features?

  1. Agreed. It’s better not to dilute the product’s essence to chase the job of the week. That’s not proper stewardship of the product.

    It helps if you can design your app with lots of opportunities for customization. If you can expose enough of the platform to provide a framework for the implementation of some of these obscure features, then the answer can often be YES (with a * next to it for “..with customization”). Spin off some developers who can focus on customization work and you’ll be in a better position to win more bids while keeping the core product on the straight and narrow. Of course, building good frameworks is hard work. 😉

  2. prescienta says:

    A lot or ERP and CRM vendors do this. To the extent that it seemed as if all you got was an empty CD, and then the rest had to be customized (want to PRINT your reports?? That’s another module! Want your address on the printout? That’s customization!) 🙂

    But, on the flipside, sometimes the market actually demand that sort of thing – the client believes (perhaps reasonably so) that their fruit-store is TOTALLY different from the one down the street, and therefore they absolutely need a totally customized system from bottom up.

    It’s definitely a balancing act. All phone providers give you the option to add “customized apps” to the phone, but they control this access very tightly at times (Apple is probably well known for the AppStore policies, but try to release a game on an XBOX, PS3 or Wii!).

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