I am currently watching William Lidwell’s Universal Principals of Design course in Lynda.com.
What is the feature that breaks the project’s back?
He identifies three common reasons for feature creep:
- The feature is easy to add.
- This often appears as an engineer or developer coming up with an idea and either saying to the team “this will be quick”. It seldom is….
- Features accumulate over multiple iterations. I personally see the following reasons for not wanting to remove features:
- Building new things is more fun than maintaining old things.
- Getting new stuff is more satisfying than removing old stuff.
- Every feature seems to have one or two vocal end-users who use that particular feature for a fringe use case. The conflict and struggle often doesn’t seem worth it.
- Vocal internal stakeholders believing that they know what is best for the end user. As Lidwell explains, “They are often wrong.” The conflict and struggle with these internal stakeholders, particularly ones with significant power, doesn’t seem worth it.
The key driver, Lidwell explains, is the belief that More is Better.
Instead, more features = more complexity = more cost.
More features make anything you are building harder to use.
In instructional design, the more information you put in, the less likely you are going to achieve the behavioral outcomes.
In communications, the more stuff you are trying to communicate at once, the less likely you are going to communicate clearly.
Omit needless words. – Strunk and White, Elements of Style
Same goes for features.
Feature creep is sneaky. “Feature additions and changes typically come in little bits and pieces.”
This is why having a well-defined scope is so critical.
It makes it easier to identify these additions and changes.
Once the requests are identified as changes, it becomes easier to evaluate whether that change is going to provide actual customer value.
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