There’s a lot of crap software/technology out there!
Why this still happens is a mystery to me as well, there’s tons of examples on how to avoid that, but… they keep on coming!
One of the old advices that I’ve heard along my entire career, had to do with expectations, one can’t really know if our next product/project will indeed match the expectations that aim for. There was also the idea of release soon, release often, but I think a lot of people only got the first one and never really grasp the true meaning of the last part.The prove that this doesn’t need to be is the endless list of forgotten PRs on the next big revolutionary project, which is now only a vague memory in the minds of some of us.
Releasing something just for the sake of releasing is fundamentally WRONG.
David’s article is an excellent review of some of the factors that lead to this sad endings, so my comments below shouldn’t keep you from reading the article itself.
1. Companies that think that they can get away with it (because no one will remember anyway) seem to be something of the past this days, just check the GetSatisfaction forums and you’ll find pearls of wisdom in it about why you shouldn’t follow this path.
2. Companies that aren’t able to skip an internal deadline. Deadlines are just that, Deadlines, I honestly believe they’re excellent to keep the necessary pressure into the delivery date. But in the end deadlines are meant to be broken, especially if quality is jeopardise for this. Companies need to improve seriously their testing capabilities, their user research studies, their closed market trials and most of all they need to start listening to the people that makes those companies. Contingency plans are in order and descoping is sometimes the wisest of all possible decisions.
3. Having talked to soon. A lot of companies end-up in this scenarios because they couldn’t keep their mouth shut, how? They announce the release date to the world way to soon. If you’ve been working for months/years in the next big think, why the hell open the game to soon? In here I like Apple approach, they set a date only and when they feel comfortable with it, prior to this moment (which I suspect has long passed the internal release date) everyone is engaged in selling whatever dream is coming out of their assembly lines. Everyone loves surprises and to talk about something unexpected. I’ve seen a series of times where dates have been set on paper and huge marketing campaigns have been silently rolled out.. then everyone feels obliged to follow along, even if it isn’t the right time…
3. Pretending that everything will be ok isn’t enough, one would be surprised with how many people inside companies have an amazingly accurate capability of foreseeing the future, and in this case, the future might not be aligned with the PR being cooked out. I liked David’s quote on this one:
“Everybody knows the product is a dog, but it’s in everybody’s self-interest to keep pretending it’s going to be fine.”
In all the companies I’ve worked so far I’ve always working with a customer obsessed vision. The current one is no exception, so it’s particular interesting to read this text by David on the exact same day in which this company made a serious effort to restore some sanity in their path towards a better product and service.