Sanaz Ahari: “Just ship it!” 06 Mar 2006
13 comments Latest by sanaz
A lot of people think Getting Real is impossible inside a large company. But even if your company typically runs on long-term schedules with big teams, there are still ways to get real. For the book, we asked Sanaz Ahari, Program Manager of Start.com at Microsoft, to discuss the “Just ship it!” attitude that her team uses.
Just Ship It!
In big companies, processes and meetings are the norm. Many months are spent on planning features and arguing details with the goal of everyone reaching an agreement on what is the “right” thing for the customer.
That may be the right approach for shrink-wrapped software, but with the web we have an incredible advantage. Just ship it! Let the user tell you if it’s the right thing and if it’s not, hey you can fix it and ship it to the web the same day if you want! There is no word stronger than the customer’s - resist the urge to engage in long-winded meetings and arguments. Just ship it and prove a point.
Much easier said than done — this implies:
* Months of planning are not necessary.
* Months of writing specs are not necessary — specs should have the foundations nailed and details figured out and refined during the development phase. Don’t try to close all open issues and nail every single detail before development starts.
* Ship less features, but quality features.
* You don’t need a big bang approach with a whole new release and bunch of features. Give the users byte-size pieces that they can digest.
* If there are minor bugs, ship it as soon you have the core scenarios nailed and ship the bug fixes to web gradually after that.
The faster you get the user feedback the better. Ideas can sound great on paper but in practice turn out to be suboptimal. The sooner you find out about fundamental issues that are wrong with an idea, the better.
Once you iterate quickly and react on customer feedback, you will establish a customer connection. Remember the goal is to win the customer by building what they want.
[From P. 11 of Getting Real, the new book by 37signals that helps you discover the smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application.]
Also, here’s what Robert Scoble, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, has to say on the subject:
I notice that as I go around Microsoft the teams that are doing the most interesting stuff are really the small teams. In fact, the products you probably know the most at Microsoft. .NET. Xbox. Tablet PC. Were done by small teams.
Yes, there are things that need big teams. Windows, for instance, has thousands of people working on it, but each task is ultimately split up to a small team.
I like 37signals because of its tight coupling to customers and its small team that has a very high focus on shipping. Ship great stuff fast.
I meant it when I said big companies like Microsoft could learn something from small companies like 37signals.