The best of products can suffer from feature bloat. In this ProductTank Linz talk, Ravi Kumar Sapata, senior product manager at IONOS, gives us two approaches to avoid turning our product into a feature factory.
The key points of his talk include:
- Problems of a feature factory product
- Tactical approaches to prevent a feature factory
- Strategic approaches to prevent a feature factory
Problems of a feature factory product
Ravi explains that a feature factory product is filled with non-performing features. This causes an accumulation of technical debt and increased maintenance costs, leading to lower customer satisfaction and a lack of market differentiation.
Feature problems can arise because many small features have an iceberg problem. They may seem to be small features but turn out to have huge actual costs. This can occur when product managers aren’t shipping any new products and decide to ship new features instead, which causes problems.
Tactical approaches to prevent a feature factory
Two ways allow product managers to avoid turning their product into a feature factory; a tactical approach that focuses on the decisions taken daily and a strategic approach that focuses on the bigger picture.
For a tactical approach, Ravi says to focus on becoming more outcome-oriented. Instead of being output-oriented and celebrating the number of features shipped, product teams should focus on the number of problems solved and the positive impact on their customers. When an outcome mindset is used, product managers can gather feedback from customers to test their initial hypotheses regarding a new feature. Ravi suggests implementing a done ritual to avoid a feature factory and rigorously follow through to determine if a new feature is successful before deciding to either further iterate or pull out a feature.
A second tactical approach is to conduct a feature audit to provide a transparent view of how features are being used. By taking stock of feature adoption and usage, you can decide to kill an underperforming feature or potentially find ways to increase adoption.
Strategic approaches to avoid a feature factory
As many products evolve throughout the lifecycle, they may become mature and attempt to serve everyone. In cases like this, products can be easily disrupted by smaller niche markets. To avoid this situation, product managers should segment customers based on needs, jobs, and personas and then unbundle their products to offer different tiers and pricing options.
The key takeaway from this talk is that regular assessments are necessary to ensure that you’re still serving your customers properly and avoiding the feature factory problem.
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