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How to Figure Out What Your Development Team Should Work on First

There are numerous factors you face when developing your first web application or software. However, the most detrimental is wasting time. Every company has a limited number of developers and strict deadlines that other departments depend on to carry out their own initiatives. Being able to prioritize and develop a sound game plan for determining what needs immediate attention is crucial for growing your business methodically and efficiently.

One problem that creates the need for prioritization is the corner case. In essence, a corner case is a situation or type of customer that makes up for a very small percentage of your users or user flow. It falls on your product team to identify and prepare for these corner cases so your development team can build these scenarios into the code. But, it’s nearly impossible to prepare for every single corner case and trying to do just that can lead to weeks or months of additional development time for one single feature. Obviously that’s not the most efficient use of your time when developing a breadth of tools or capabilities is needed for customer satisfaction and developing value propositions your marketing team can use to grow revenue. Thats where the 80/20 rule comes into play.

80% of the benefits your customers enjoy from using your product or service is created by 20% of your application. Obviously you can’t code only 20% of every feature, but you can identify which features are of the highest priority and deserve the additional dev time it takes to soundproof them from corner cases. Evaluating every feature using that methodology will allow you to make sure your top features implement the depth needed for your customers to justify paying for your service.

Sometimes, the 80/20 rule doesn’t work. Perhaps there is a required minimum functionality that needs to be implemented, which will focus on wide variety of features rather than the depth of a few features. In those scenarios it’s sometimes best to view it from a 90% rule. Focus on satisfying the needs of 90% of your customers and let the other 10% wait for future releases. Sure, they may spam your support team with feature requests, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right place to focus your teams efforts. Usually, the customers that are the unhappiest are the one’s who are most vocal. Don’t let their cries for a certain feature drown out the silent 90% that are already happy, but could be happier if you focused on the features they use the most.

Prioritizing your product and development teams time and workflow is no easy task. It requires communication from all team members to identify where the most work is currently needed and where upcoming efforts should be focused. Remembering to identify with the needs of your ideal customer profiles will help create a system from which you can consistently grow the value your product provides your customers while reducing the amount of time wasted on features that won’t get much use.

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