Feature creep, or scope creep, refers to the excessive addition of new features when developing a product. Generally, the phrase applies to hardware or software, but it can also rear its head when you’re developing other types of products, such as mops or wallets. Feature creep unnecessarily delays product launches, drives up costs, and may even destroy a project. As a developer or designer, it’s critical to avoid scope creep. Sweet and simple often works better than complex and confusing when it comes to many products.
Streamline Your Design Process
Consider creating a requirements document when developing products for clients. This document should outline all the expected features and help keep your project on track. Also, it helps to be upfront with clients about how many changes you’re willing to make during the development phase. If you’re developing products in-house, think about splitting the development and production channels so you can better restrict changes to the development stage.
To prevent adding too many features during the process, streamline your design process by perfecting the most important features. If you want to add or modify these features, you should analyse how it affects not only the overall product but also your bottom line. In general, customers love products with fewer features, but as a manufacturer, you want to knock those features out of the park. This means you need to start with a plan, control access to changes, and carefully consider every update before moving forward.
Focus on Fundamentals to Avoid Feature Creep
Successful products tend to have a core focus or objective. Rather than creating a product that does lots of things marginally well, most successful developers focus on products that do a few things extremely well. For example, QuickMobile, one of the fastest-growing software companies in Canada, focuses exclusively on event marketing apps that engage attendees. Clevest creates solutions for mobile workforces. Both these companies and many others develop focused products that meet niche needs instead of trying to deliver everything for everybody.
Balance Features and Functions
Even when you focus on a niche market, feature creep can still be an issue. To keep it manageable, every feature should add a specific function or design appeal to your product. As a litmus test, ask yourself whether proposed changes truly meet a need of your client base. If the new feature increases the appeal of the product in another way, you may want to consider how likely it is to affect future sales or product adoption.
Implement a Feature Approval Process
To prevent features from spiraling out of control, you may want to implement an approval process. For example, consider limiting the number of people who can propose new features. Then, make sure each proposed feature goes past your financial team to assess how it affects your bottom line. You may also want to run features past a test panel or focus group to see how potential consumers feel about the development. Having a process in place with final approval up to you or the project manager can prevent the adoption of unnecessary features.
Create a Project Schedule
Feature creep often overcomplicates products in ways that make them hard to use. Also, it can delay the completion of your project. To keep your project on track, create a schedule. Your schedule should outline the proposed length of time for every stage of product development, but it should also have some built-in flexibility for necessary changes and unexpected challenges. If you’re working with a client, consider making a list of features as well as a schedule. Then, have the client sign off on the features so they can’t request any last-minute changes.
Your schedule should also clearly differentiate between development and production. Once a product goes into production, it shouldn’t be altered except in very rare cases with extenuating circumstances. When developing a product, it’s tempting to add lots of bells or whistles, and clients may ask for new features in the middle of development. But if you let development spin out of control, these additions can lead to feature creep. To minimize that risk, stay focused and maintain your schedule.
Unplanned features during the design process can lead to costly mistakes that don’t hold up well in the marketplace. To avoid feature creep and its potentially expensive consequences, keep your designs simple and hone in on core features that customers want and need. QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their businesses on the go. Download the app.