When I talk about the release early and often behavior of successful product companies during in-company trainings or in-company talks, some people mention that their business is too risky and they don’t have room for errors. For instance, a bank that works with customers’ money, or a hospital that takes care of its patients’ health. They say that error is not acceptable and, for this reason, they cannot launch incomplete products. They have to launch a complete product that has all the minimum required features. Some people even say
“It’s easy for a startup, with no customers, to launch the very minimum (and embarrassing) first version of its product and evolve from there. We are a big company, we have hundreds of thousands of customers, and we cannot afford to make mistakes.”
And they are right, making mistakes in front of thousands of customers is not wise behavior.
For this reason, I decided to use a hack to foster a digital product culture behavior of releasing early and often. The hack is the use of the alpha, beta, and go-live terminology. I started using this terminology to explain in which stage a product or a feature is. In the alpha stage, the product may not work properly. If it’s in alpha, it should be offered only to customers who understand the issues of using a new product and can cope with these issues without a bigger burden. So this should be a handful of clients, no more than that. At the beta stage, major issues of the product are fixed, but the errors may still occur and the user experience can and will improve. In this phase, it is possible to offer the product or feature to tens of customers. Then, when all known errors are fixed, and the user experience is working properly, then its time to move the product into the go-live stage, where the product can be offered to all prospects and existing clients. This certainly helps sales and customer support teams understand the release cycle of new features and new products.
I use the above slide to present this terminology to the company. Feel free to use it in your company. This slide was created by my dear friend Luis Figueira.
Without the clarity of your product vision and strategy, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to manage your product. How do you decide where to put your focus and energy? What to leave for later? How to show stakeholders what you intend to do with the product? How to have arguments to say no to requests for new features in your product?
That’s why I created the Workshop to Create Your Product’s Vision and Strategy. Spaces are very limited and it starts next Monday, so reserve yours now!
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