Feature Factory: Understanding the Controversial Development Practice
A comprehensive checklist for product teams to build a company without becoming a feature factory.
Karthik Kamalakannan / 01 June, 2023
A feature factory is a common pitfall for product teams where they keep building new features without measuring their impact. This can lead to a false sense of success, as the team focuses on shipping new features rather than ensuring that they are actually useful for customers. As a result, the team may end up creating more features with little iteration for existing ones.
In 2017, one team realized that they had fallen into this trap and decided to take action. They created a checklist to avoid becoming a feature factory when building a SaaS product. This checklist was iterated upon over time, and served as a useful tool for ensuring that the team was focused on solving customer problems rather than just building features.
To avoid being a feature factory, product teams must take a methodical approach to feature development. Here is a 7-point checklist that can help teams avoid becoming a feature factory:
Before starting to develop a new feature, teams must assess its impact on the business goals. It is important to measure the impact of the feature and ensure that the measurements are agreed upon by all the teams in the company, such as customer success, business, engineering, etc. This helps ensure that the feature aligns with the overall business goals.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must define success metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the feature they are developing. The KPIs must align with the larger business goal and mission. For instance, if the feature is designed to help product managers make better decisions, the KPIs must be designed to measure the impact of the feature on the decision-making process.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must identify the customer needs that the feature is designed to address. They must determine how the feature request came about and whether it was prompted by customer feedback. This helps ensure that the feature is designed to meet the needs of the customers.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must plan ahead for the feature development process. This includes creating a roadmap for the next two iterations of the feature and ensuring that the feature is designed to accommodate future iterations. A product feature analysis can be used to build a roadmap for the feature.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must share the metrics dashboard with the entire team of engineers. This helps them understand the impact they are creating with the customers and triggers ideas for them to build upon in the future.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must facilitate feature onboarding and education. This includes incorporating onboarding workflows and providing proper content copy to help users understand the feature. This helps users understand how the feature works, eventually increasing adoption.
To avoid being a feature factory, teams must prioritize outcomes. They must focus firmly on the outcomes they aim to achieve through feature development. This perspective allows them to work towards tangible results, rather than simply moving tasks to the “done” column.
By following this 7-point checklist, product teams can avoid becoming a feature factory and ensure that they are building features that meet the needs of the customers and align with the overall business goals.
Last updated: December 3rd, 2023 at 8:43:17 PM GMT+0