It seems product development – like project management in my opinion –
requires adjustment from the theory of it (or its planning) and its reality
(how things actually happen.
Case in point:
Last year, before we closed for the holidays, we sent a nice email to every
AceProject user, thanking them for their business and wishing them a merry
Christmas and happy new year. The intention behind the email was good. We just
wanted to send good wishes to all the good people who made AceProject the
success that it is today.
However, we did not think this through. We sent the email to every user
of AceProject, not just the account administrators. Usually, when we send a
email to AceProject users, we only contact the account administrator.
While we had some very nice email replies and warm wishes from our user
community, we had some very unhappy customers as a result as well. Some of our
clients are using AceProject to keep in contact with their clients. They have
customized AceProject with their logo and company name. To their clients, it
looks as if they are using an in-house project management system. Most of them
don't even know that they are using AceProject, they think they are using
Company A's Project Management System. Hence the problem: they received an
email from a company they didn't know, whishing them happy holidays.
Some of our clients were very unhappy that we had taken the liberty of
communicating directly with their clients. So, while our intention was good and
it seemed like a good idea at the time, we realized (too late) that we should
have kept our habit of emailing only the account administrators.
The tricky part is to guess unforeseen consequences. Fortunately, when you
are developing a product or managing a project, there is a whole team of people
with different outlooks that can be consulted. With product development, there
should always be beta testing phase, your last chance to realize the new
feature is actually a hassle for the user.
There is no way to realise you are wrong like trying you new idea for real.
Sometimes it turns out to be a great idea, sometimes it turns out to be an
awful idea…but bad ideas can be turned into great stories!