Sunday, October 14, 2007

Next generation of your product?

Announcing that you are developing the next generation of the product seems exciting. You give the picture to everyone what they can expect. You tell your employees what they should focus on. These are great.

The problem is that you should never give a date about it.

A vision is not a plan. The date should only be given if you have a plan.

The future picture commitments actually hurt your sales of the current product. If I can get the next generation product in six months, why I should buy the old product now? I would rather wait for it. If I buy the current product, you must give me extra discount. In the end of 2007 to buy a car with the 2007 model, the price of the car is general cheaper then you buy the same model at the end of 2006.

The unplanned committed date hurts your product development as well. Project is a triangle of scope, time, and resource. If the committed date is too short to adjust your resource capacity, you can only keep cutting your scope.

In project management world, scope creep refers to uncontrolled changes in project scope. The increased scope result in the uncontrolled overrunning the budget and schedule.

Now I see that there may be a reverse problem. For keeping an unplanned deadline given for a product vision. The content will be kept changing. Yes, you get a very disciplined team. The team lead can control budget and time very well. Since you never communicated the detailed of scope, the product you are developing is still drifting away from its original purpose.

You should never, not ever promise to build any next generation of product with a specific deadline while you do not even know the scope. You should never give a date when you do not have a plan.
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