Product Management and release cycles

I am a bit shocked from release processes in the last few weeks and cannot hold back the feeling.
I am a supporter of release fast release often but there is a bit of a stretch named “Within Reason”, if your application size is 30Mb and you release every 3 days the commitment is, how do i say it gently, over demanding.
release within a reason is a bit like resisting the developer urge to just throw all the new magnificent features that are hot out of the testing oven and giving them to the customer. its a noble thing to do, but it has its price.
Making a person update regularly is one thing but annoying them with multiple updates makes a regularly updating customer to a deferring update customer, its like a nagging kid, the more updates there are the less you feel they are important and deserver your attention.

Another thing i noticed lately is developers putting release notes, this harms the product and should be done by the product manager. why do i say this? look at the following example from prezi desktop.

Crop images and pdf’s by double clicking on them.
Draw straight lines, bend arrows, and manipulate them much easier.
Application starts much faster.

This is agonizingly not commercial and lacks the sales pitch, we need to make the client feel the love we spread. a person reading this will think, who is running this company? how is this allowed out? what does this reflect on my information security and the way things are managed?
Yes i know that these days with the Sony fiasco there are claims that even well managed companies are not that well managed. and security is just a matter of luck.

Looking at iTunes release notes you get the feeling they know what they are doing

iTunes 10.2.2 provides a number of important bug fixes, including:

• Addresses an issue where iTunes may become unresponsive when syncing an iPad.
• Resolves an issue which may cause syncing photos with iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to take longer than necessary.
• Fixes a problem where video previews on the iTunes Store may skip while playing.
• Addresses other issues that improve stability and performance.

iTunes 10.2 came with several new features and improvements, including:

• Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

• Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

This has the feel that i am in the centre, yes in the middle of the product they are thinking of me and not on themselves.
We have to get the feeling of been cared for while we use the product, this is the secret sauce of the big brands.

Yes i am claiming there is merit to the Product Manager other then just setting the tone of the product and making sure features get released, he has the job of communication to the crowd and mediating the products achievements.
Especially in a startup when we are probably the developer and the product manager we need to keep this in mind when we write the release notes, the client is in the middle of the product and we need to communicate that thought.
We need to remember that releases as importent as they are, unless you are apple and i have to use your bloated itunes, need to be incremental if possible and small if can. a full release of the product is not always necessary if the product is architecture in a way its achievable.
So to all my Startup buddies i call, learn from the mistakes and improve.

Comments

  1. Nice topic – respect !

  2. This why it’s better to stick with web-based applications like mine where most of the fixes are transparent.

    On that note, what would your advice be for announcing large updates to webapps? Currently we use our blog, so we ensure that we talk about the benefits. Is that enough?

  3. Web Based products do have their merites but downloading the product still applies to them. when you change the code i need to reload that change to my local cache and if i cleared my cache i need to reload the application.
    Mind you i refer to the UI and the server side processing is not hampered by the releases.
    As for announcing the release, well the application is one of the best places.
    Every time you push a release and the user logs in for the first time either do a subtle or an intrusive notification of the new release and if he likes he can view the new features.
    On the website you only do this for major releases.
    Good Luck.

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