Do you sometimes wonder how to balance quality and rapid feedback? This is a common problem where most startups stumble upon. In the early stages, a start-up is in great need of quick feedback to validate their ideas. Sooner then later it becomes very clear that first impressions and quality are crucial to keeping the customer engaged and willing to keep using the product in its early stages. Let’s dig deeper into this topic and think together of ideas on how to balance this hard equation.
With the spread of the lean startup methodology, startups focus on using as few resources as possible to develop a minimum viable product. First, because the entrepreneur cannot afford to spend a large number of resources. Secondly, because the entrepreneur still has not reached a product-market fit. While this is a logical method for early startups especially when feedback is needed quickly. However, let’s build a case for the importance of quality in the early stages of a startup.
Note: While this article is written for startups running a software product, I believe its key ideas would be relevant to all product building startups.
Why you should consider quality for your product?
First Impressions Matter:
- You need to build a good first impression in terms of quality, service, and support. According to some studies, up to 80% of users abandon using an app or website after a single usage. This number is super scary especially if you plan to collect a lot of feedback. Users who abandon your product will not be keen on sending feedback.
- You need to focus on earning your users’ trust. This needs to be achieved with a great first impression. This helps keep your users engaged and willing to use new updated versions of your product, also more willing to provide feedback.
Financial Loss or Gain:
- Your product is more than likely going to include some flows which help generate revenue. If any of those flows contains an error or a bug, you have just lost your self some crucial sales. It is estimated that losses from software failures accumulate to 17 trillion dollars per year. While this is a number that is hard to grasp, trust me you do not want to be one of the startups who lose money or even worse, fail due to some lousy error.
How can you embed quality within your startup?
Based on your resources and willingness to integrate quality within your startups, here are your options in order.
Hire someone within the team to focus on quality:
Optimally hire someone whose main focus is quality within your team. It is extremely healthy to have strong bias forces within your organization. Each force would push towards one end of the spectrum including delivery, scalability, and quality, eventually balancing the equation. In an optimal scenario, we will have the product team pushing towards delivery, the development team pushing towards scalability, and finally, the quality team pushing towards quality. Once all three forces are empowered, the result would be a well-balanced product in terms of speed, maintainability, and quality.
Empower the team to question everything:
This essentially means to allow and train the team to question everything from a quality perspective. How does the feature work? What could go wrong? What hypothetical scenarios could happen? Is the feature easy to use? Is this feature easy to maintain and scale? Simply, asking these kinds of questions is a great way to improve your product. Failing to ask the needed questions early could turn out costly.
Ingrain quality within your process:
Create a process that engrains quality at every step of the development cycle.
- Before building: allow enough time for planning and questioning the requirements. The clearer the requirements and the fewer ambiguities exist the better the end result would be.
- While building: set dedicated time for peer reviewing and testing of the built product against the initial requirements. Simply reviewing and testing the product with the intention of finding fault is enough to catch a lot of the issues early.
- After the release: set time for fixing any issue that may arise quickly. Don’t allow issues to linger as you and the team would get used to the issues making it harder to maintain a high-quality threshold for the team.
Bottomline while speed and feedback are crucial and necessary for a startup in its early days. However, ingraining some quality practices and developing a quality culture and process within the team and yourself is extremely important to build your users’ trust and engagement levels. Eventually, this will be translated into rich feedback and increased revenue.