How do you know when your product is ready for release to waiting fans? Does it have what they want? Is it high enough quality? Will it crash and burn, costing you thousands of dollars? Tough questions. Unfortunately, there are no great answers, but consider the following factors. They may help.
Keep it foundational
There’s always a temptation to boil the ocean with your grand scheme. To have the best product in your class. After all, you’ll never make money without it. But this is a trap. Great products take years to develop, and if you wait that long, you’ll never get a foothold in the marketplace. It’s far better to get started early with a foundational product, and constantly improve it.
Listen to customers
Every feature in your product should come from customers. Don’t invent stuff yourself unless you are certain it’s the next great thing, and then still don’t. Chances are, you’ll have a tough time selling pipe-dream features that customers don’t ask for.
Always ready for release
This only applies after you have already released the product at least once, and applies best to iterative products like software. Never dive so deeply into new features that you can’t release the product at least once a month – even when doing major upgrades. Release the product frequently to beta testers and trusted customers, but don’t let it stay “down under” too long. This keeps the bug count lower, and keeps you closer to customer input.
Test twice, and twice again
If you’re like most engineers, you’ll spend half your time polishing and fixing bugs. But many don’t realize that. They want to blaze new trails and invent new things – all the time. But you can’t make a living like that. Be patient with your product, allowing it to mature into a robust system. Don’t walk off until you are sure it is.
Good luck with your release, and let me know how you made out. 🙂