What is important in a product?

What started out as a discussion about the product I am working on led me to think about this particular aspect of it. One day on a post lunch afternoon walk, I was talking to my friend at work and told him how the product I am working on is not a complete product. My friend who had worked on a similar product at his previous company asked me why is it that. I started discussing with him how the product provide all the features that it claim, but the amount of redundancy of data being asked, some of the unwanted data in a few screens and existence of multiple places to take in the same required data. Though I was looking at the screens which are shown in demos, I thought when you are claiming your application as a product these glitches should not be there. But my friend was of a differing opinion. He said a product in a business sense is made up of its features, and as long as all the features are there, it is a product. The rest are not the problem with the product, but configuration glitches etc.

My point of view is that though they are all not problems with the products per se, even configuration management is a part of product management. There should be a base version which has the proper configuration management and with no glitches. If you are showing these in the demo and have to give weird reasoning for the existence of few fields and the existence of multiple reports which provides almost similar data, and multiple places to take in the same data, then the entire packaging is lost. Yes a product is made up of its features, but it contains many things more to be able to sell it. You need to have a good look and feel, no glitches and also provide an easy deployment capability to be a good product. Yes these are not problems of the product features per se, but in the business it is considered to be a problem with the product. Thus my point of view is that the entire packaging (which involves fully functional features + look and feel + any other things) is more important than functionality.

Agree or disagree?

Edit: Removed the confusing Levis wala example

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5 thoughts on “What is important in a product?

  1. I completely agree on the fact that the simplicity of configuring a software product is as important as the features it provides for.

    Misleading software configuration is akin to having a bug. The later it is found, the more expensive it is to fix. And even if you do fix it in subsequent releases, you have to take into account the fact that existing customers will have to cope with the change in terms of understanding and migration.

    As for the jeans, I'd just walk up to another Levi's store! 🙂

  2. Assumption is that there is only one levis store … I know a bad example to give, but i was using the brands as the competitors in software industry. So u see u can't go to another store … its like going to another office of yours and looking for another version of ur s/w…

    Agreed real bad example.

  3. I think I agree with u abt the product thing. Not sure abt the Levis one though or rather can't relate both of them perfectly!

  4. Removed the levis wala example once in for all … Thought it would make it easy to understand the product wala part. But it turned out opposite 😛

  5. For me, a "working" product is the top-most priority. If you have a bug-ridden s/w app, its of little use. Coming to the point of features vs functionality, I think quality of the software would distinguish that. An app with multiple screens of redundant data is the last thing that an end user looks for, from the efficiency and usage point of view. I'd be happy getting my job done in 5 minutes rather than 15. Perhaps for the programmer, its easier that way (to pick up data from the screens) but you have to think of the end user who is going to use it everyday (like ease of configuration et al). The programmer won't be using it as often as during development once its into production, would he?!

    Last words: minimal (if not none) redundancy + all features is the way to go. Having said that, I wouldn't mind a feature/functionality or two less as against an app full of useless/repetitive/redundant features/screens etc.

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