As product managers, we take decisions in our work life almost on a daily basis. Some we take by looking at our existing user data, others by the market research and few by the entrepreneurial “gut” feeling that comes with deep understanding and experience.

Among those plethora of decisions we take, what if you have to decide among the following for a product feature

  • Building it right
  • Building it now

And sometimes, Building it right, now How to choose one?

There’s an easy way out here is going by the Jeff Bezo’s principle:

If it’s reversible, build it now than build it right.

That’s the mantra. You can also apply this to doing it now or doing it right, Building the product right vs building the right product.

It’s only fair that the stakeholders expect the product feature to be flawless and 100% right from the set go. But on the software front, it’s important that we validate the usage of the said feature. This doesn’t mean we have to ship a sub par product. But then, isn’t it contradicting that on one hand while I advocate a build now attitude but also say it has to be built right?

This can be overcome if we have a closed user group, the initial set of advocators and early adopters for your product to feature test. These are not your employees and are not compensated to fill up a feedback survey or use this feature. This group of people are genuinely interested in the problem you are trying to solve. For them, it’s not important that you build it right, but getting that feature out NOW will motivate them to explore the product and the feedback cycle kicks in for the PMs to iterate.

So in what cases is this “build it now” matters? As emphasised above, it’s when these features can be rolled back without any major impact to existing users or can be killed all together. But if these are features that are mission critical - say, payment processing, first time user experience or shopping cart checkout which are hard to reverse, we need to get these things built right. But something like a footer change, menu options, export invoices or plugins and integrations should be done now. This help you can gauge the usage patterns of these features and decide to invest in more time to get it right or depriortize them in the backlog.