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Why does X get done when there are more pressing issues to deal with?

News posted by Roey Izhaki 5 years ago

Users often question why certain things get done when other more pressing issues or improvements aren't.

Product management is complex:

Product dimensions

A product has many dimensions, for instance:

  • Functionality
  • Usability
  • Reliability
  • Aesthetics

And it has to work for both:

  • New users
  • Experienced users

And users generally have very diverse needs and usage patterns - what one uses a lot, another doesn't. Perhaps a good example for this is Stripe Integration - badly needed by some, nowhere on the agenda of others.

Priorities

And then come priorities. Consider the following case:

  • Feature X: 100% user base (seen/used by all), customer value of 1 (minor improvement), takes a day to complete.
  • Feature Y: 20% user base, those 20% give it a customer value of 4 (5 being most important), takes 5 weeks to complete.

Shall we pursue X or Y?

An argument worth mentioning is that while Y might be way more important than X, 20 Xs might offer better customer value than Y - it is the accumulative value of many small tasks that can sometimes outweigh the value of a single important task.

Limited resources, different skill sets

Like any other company, there are some resource constraints:

If the guy who developed all our integrations is currently busy implementing the various EU VAT regulations, and that person can implement an integration in 25% of the time it will take anyone else, there's a strong case to postpone an integration until the VAT project is done so the right person is actually doing it. That, by many, will constitute a better utilisation of resources.

Similarly, a change in design is done by the design team, and those who implement these changes haven't got the skill set to implement new functionality.

Bad product management

What we can't do is put all our eggs in one basket - say usability improvements for new users, and do nothing else.

Good product management

So the system we have in place involves slicing the cake so each different product dimension is allocated X% of resources. Such division is decided by the stakeholders, our in-house customer representative, and the team members who actually work on the various aspects. Then within each slice, there's a further (weekly) debate on priorities, which also accounts for the resources available.

The native outcome of this is that sometimes things that are seemingly less important for some actually get done. But it is worth remembering that these type of tasks get a very small slice of the cake compared to the more important tasks.

This is a great thing.

In the same way an A&E department has to allocate some resources to non-critical injuries, or the same way a club has to let some non-ticket holders through even when there are people in the VIP and ticket-holders queue, we too must not neglect any dimension of the product.

I hope that explains it.

1 Reply

This is all makes sense, and I run a web dev agency so I recognise the balancing act.

But when something – [https://secure.clearbooks.co.uk/community/ideas/2380/stripe-integraion](Stripe integration) – has been committed to and then 2 years passes with no release, I'd argue that the approach isn't working. Especially as in that time pretty much all of Clearbook's competitors have some form of Stripe integration.

This is all the more alarming when you said on that thread that "It has been queued after [https://secure.clearbooks.co.uk/community/ideas/306/edit-paid-invoices](Edit Paid Invoices)" - which is the second most liked suggestion, and which hasn't been implemented after five years.

A telling line in your post above states "the guy who developed all our integrations " – so there's only one guy? I would argue you need to seriously consider adding to your team, or outsourcing some development work, so that you have the resources to deliver what you have promised.

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