Product management tip for how to select features for a release that keep your product safe
March 29, 2019
March 29, 2019
In the world of product management one of the popular theories that come into play is the broken window theory. The broken window theory is a criminology theory that is based on the thought if you see visible signs of crime, broken windows, litter and overall civil disorder that this creates a perception of the environment and then leads to more criminal activities. How does this apply to product management? Well, think about your product. If you have bad code, you set a standard for your next developers to write more bad code. All product teams take on tech weight as products age and as you add features and scale over time. The more you ignore your tech weight, the more your team assumes it is okay to continue to add to your tech weight.
How does this theory impact my product feature prioritization? Well, the reality is most product managers want to deliver the key features that customers need to increase sales and reduce churn. The reality is however perception of a products stability and performance means just as much as the feature sets. As a result, product managers need to work with their tech teams to hear about tech weight and ensure those changes are worked into a product roadmap. Over time there will be parts of a product that needs to be updated or re-architect and they are typically large enough changes that a small technical support team can handle as part of normal lights on. To ensure tech weight is completed, product managers need to include their internal team feature requests for their product roadmap and carve out room to do what is needed to keep the product stable.
The changes are not sexy and hard to sell as a product manager to management and customers on why you are doing what you are doing however if you do not allow time for refactoring code, infrastructure updates, and other maintenance changes, you run the risk of running into a never ending fire drill state. As a product manager, you need to fight to ensure these changes are worked into each and every release to focus on improving not only the feature selections for customers but the underlying technology that the product runs on. Without a strong tech to run the product, the features do not matter. A slow performing product can have all of the features in the world but no one will use it.
As part of your product feature prioritization process, you should have a product objective to maintain a high standard for stability and be able to associate your features related to tech weight to accomplishing this objective. The objective around managing tech weight should be a high default score in order to ensure you are working on what is needed. A large part of product management is balancing demands and this is from customers, team members, competition and ensuring you are delivering the future state of the product. Including your tech weight as part of this balance is critical as you cannot obviously only do tech weight, but need to ensure you are constantly allowing time to do what is needed to strengthen the base of your product.