Feature lifecycle

In a previous article I explained the 4 stages of a software product:

  • Innovation: from all 4 lifecycle stages of a software product, Innovation is the one that holds the biggest amount of doubts. It is also the stage that holds the biggest amount of books. Any book on innovation and startups is helpful when your product is in this stage. The main objective is to create a product that addresses problems and needs of a group of customers.
  • Growth: In the growth stage, when the product has been developed and launched, we should worry about how to manage the product during its growth. Since during the innovation phase we built an MVP to reach our Objective of finding product-market fit, our product is quite incomplete, so we should have a roadmap describing which features we will build plus the motivation to build each feature and the metrics that will show us that we are fulfilling the motivation to build each feature as I described in my article about roadmap.
  • Maturity: After growth, comes maturity. In this phase, our product reached its potential market and consequently doesn’t grow as fast as it grew in the Growth phase.
  • End of life: After maturity, or when the product is developed but it does not find product-market fit, comes the stage known as the end of life, or sunset, of a software product.

This 4 phases lifecycle can be applied not only to a whole product, but also to its major features.

To give you an example, let’s imagine our whole product being Linkedin. Let’s say that we decide to develop a new feature for Linkedin, for instance, the article publishing feature I’m using right now to write this article. During the feature innovation phase, we’ll have to find the product-market fit. In this case it will be feature-market fit, and the market is the entire user base of Linkedin.

If we are able to find the feature-market fit, then it’s time to grow the feature usage, i.e., implement additional features to the publishing feature we’ve just launched so it can be a complete feature to be used by the maximum number of users possible.

After the growth of the publishing feature adoption in Linkedin user base comes the feature maturity. In this stage, the publishing feature is complete in terms of its possibilities and since its used by the majority of the user base, its growth slows down.

Then, after growth comes the End of life stage for the publishing feature. It can happens if Linkedin as whole enters this phase, or if the feature is replaced or discontinued for any reason.

Next time you decide to develop and launch a major feature for your product, you can apply the product lifecycle view to help you manage the lifecycle of this new major feature.

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