Version 1.0 is not version 2.0

I am working since a couple of years in client-facing software projects in the e-commerce area.
Most of them were german clients of varying sizes which outsourced development of their e-commerce projects.
One thing I realized was that many those projects had issues after going live.
that is nothing new, but those issues were in my opinion mainly because of one fact:

The client wanted to do too much at a time.

I am under the impression that in many german projects i have worked, the clients never go live with version 0.9 which has less features and is not perfect.
instead they want to to have version 1.0 but actually expect it to be version 2.0….of course in time and in budget!

Experience told me that this doesn’t work. Instead you should try to start small with the most simple setup possible to achieve the business goal.
That is my personal opinion of course.

I have tried to come up with a set of questions which should help Software projects to go live successfully:

Q: What is the most important functionality which is needed for launch?
A: E.g. for an online store it is products, the possibility for customers to have a shopping cart and a successful and short checkout and payment process.
that’s it: nothing more! people should buy your stuff. Don’t stop them from doing that with all kinds of features!

Q: Which features are used the most?
A: if something you want to implement is most likely not used by at least 90% of the users….leave it out in version 1.0
After going live monitor your site and analyse which areas could improve with your new feature ideas.

Q: „But all of our competitors have those features…“
A: „Do you actually know if users need those features?“ Try to stick out of the crowd and do less,
but do this better than your competitor.

Q: why don’t we just put more people on the project to get all of our crazy ideas done?
A: Do you actually know that you can get fired for this question? More people are like more features: they makes things more complex.
And complexity is not easy anymore. Avoid complexity in phase one. You still can make things more complex
when you once have understood even the simple setup.

Maybe it’s those project budgets who are responsible for this mess. Bugdets are agreed for a certain
period of time and it is expected that the budget is used only for this time. So the stakeholders try
to get as much as possible out of that budget in that time. I think people should start to think different:
Split projects into phases/stages right from the beginning and stick to the magic number 3.

Phase 1:

– the most simple setup, to go live. No „nice to have“ features, only the most used stuff.

Phase 2:
– Add most important „nice to haves“ which are based on analysis of Phase 1.

Phase 3:

– Here you can get experimental. Your business is running and stable. There is room to try out something new.

It would be nice to get some feedback about experiences from other people.
Maybe that is a german thing… know all the stereotypes have a bit of truth in it 🙂
I would be interested in experience from other countries…are people more brave there and try to risk to do actually less ?

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