Plan to serve cup cakes at your software wedding

The wedding ceremony is past and your tummy rumbles. The food at these events is somewhat hit and miss as it isn’t easy to feed this many troops. Chicken or fish? Hopefully the cake will save the day! At some parties as of late the decoration may be traditional, available for the cut and face smash, but we all for cup cakes.

It was this memory that fired whilst thinking about software that setup the analogy that you should consider shipping cup cakes vs. large wedding cakes.

The wedding day is your ship date for a major release. As time goes by you need to make adjustments to the schedule.

You may have a suites of products all working to come together, or you may have a series of features in a release. You don’t want them all relying on each other to create that one spectacular cake. With a cup cake approach you can have differing types that come together on their own schedules.

Your users don’t know the plan

I can’t tell you how often I have seen the following happen, falling for this bias myself. You build your plan and although everyone is running hot to ship the entire cake you all kinda feel like it would be wiser to focus and cut. But how can you, the cake will be so delicious! If you don’t have some of the ingredients it won’t reach its potential! We quickly forget that the users don’t know the plan and would probably prefer a cake with some ingredients missing, if the quality of the pieces we do ship is higher.

If something shows up half arsed it is obvious, and sets the tone. It may be enough to turn off a user who may never come back.

With be One Big Cake there are ingredients you can’t just skip else it will taste bad, but with cup cakes you could offer fewer options and no one would know. You need to be crystal clear on which is which, and say no to the items that aren’t critical ingredients.

Having come from the world of retail where shipping features in February has an insignificant impact compared to October, it is crucial to play this game well. You can’t move the holiday season, so you need to plan accordingly.

In general though I am a huge fan of the flywheel. Chrome is a perfect example of this. The trains run on time and a process helps the progression of features from ideas to canaries to beta to stable. New cup cakes show up every six weeks.

As you plan the narrative of how you are making your users bad ass in 2016, remember that they don’t know the details that you know, so allow for a flywheel of quality rather than risking the Big Bang of meh.

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