Launch Blunder #1 - Pretending your product works

Every software product that ships has bugs.  Some more than others.  We’re always under pressure to ship as quickly as possible.  Afterall, generating a profit is the goal and the sooner the better.  Sales, as the saying goes, can solve any problem.  But if your product doesn’t meet an acceptable threshold of quality you are fooling yourself if you ship before it’s ready.

Here’s how the story goes.  The development of the product has taken longer than expected due to some technical hurdles beyond your control.  This has had a negative impact on the (overly optimistic) financial projections for the year.  You’ve been testing the product in-house and it’s been going well.  You know there are a few areas of the product which can crash the application.  You need time to identify the causes of the crashes and fix them. Management is under pressure and wants you to ship.  You present the facts of how many bugs remain, how they’re being addressed, etc. 

Management presses you on the bugs.  How often would someone really use that feature?  So what if a few crash?  Can’t we ship a patch right away?  It doesn’t seem so bad to me, they say.  They begin to convince you that it’s not so bad.  You rationalize that these are smart guys with experience.  They’ve probably seen this before.  A few customers are using the product and they understand the problem areas and seem to be OK with it.  Maybe it is OK to ship.  I guess we could fix things as they crop up.  How bad could it really be?

So you agree to ship.  Because of the extended development process you haven’t run a beta.  The product ships and the problem reports start flying in.  Customers get on blogs and forums and rant about your buggy product.  When prospects start to investigate your product they discover the posts (which will hang around for a long time) and pass you by.  Sales will come to a screeching halt.  It will result in months of lost revenue and lost opportunity.  Possible lawn dart.

Don’t pretend your product works when it doesn’t.  If it’s not ready, it’s not ready.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should meet your markets expectation for quality.

David Daniels

David Daniels

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