Early and Often or Wait Til It’s Right?

We work hard to produce great software that helps address Active Directory management needs in an intelligent user-friendly manner. We recently changed to a release-early-and-often model a while back and this means we sometimes ship with fewer features than we’d like for a release. While we work quickly to add features and address bugs, I wonder if it is annoying for our customers to go through small release cycles or wait longer for larger changes.

What do you think about waiting a long time for a release until it’s 100% complete (which never really seems to happen) or having a release with key features in your hands earlier but fewer bells and whistles? Is it better to get feedback on a constant cyclical basis or work in a vacuum and deliver a behemoth release once a year? What about using “soft launches” and betas to meld both worlds—the long- and short-release cycle worlds?

Did you get an iPhone when it first shipped and love it even though it lacked basic features like copy and paste? Have you bought the first year model of a completely-redesigned car and overlooked the little annoyances in favor of the new great features? Since we live in an instant-demand world now it seems we should move forward quickly with smaller release.

Let me know your thoughts about early and often versus slow and behemoth. What things make you stay with a product even if it has a few inadequacies? Remember the iPhone model…it really wasn’t ready to compete with other platforms like BlackBerry on some basic OS functions but it had so many other great innovative features that it revolutionized the market anyway. Oh yeah, and you could download an iOS update that added copy and paste not too long after the initial model shipped.

1 Comment

  1. I think customers prefer to get features as they are available. I worked for a large company at one time that regularly released software at predetermined intervals. They also added a number of release trains in between major releases, as necessary, to please their customers. The customers appreciated this.

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