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Features are like pets illustration: a series of images shows different practical roles and responsibilities involved with owning a pet dog, compared with a solo image of how simple and rewarding one might imagine it to be - all presented as a simile for the time, effort and cost involved in developing new software features.

Features are like pets

When adding features to a software product it's easy to underestimate the overall time and cost they may take up. To keep the full impact in mind it can be helpful to think of Features As Pets.

When I think of Features As Pets it helps me look past the initial cost of designing and developing a feature and consider its full lifecycle. For example:

  • you're going to want to tell your users about it
  • you'll want to check it's being used as intended
  • you'll need to support it and check that it works in all different places and fix it when it breaks
  • you may need to work hard to make sure it's compatible with new features you add
  • you may have to return to the code and refactor it to improve performance
  • you may need to upgrade libraries and maintain security patches
  • finally you'll have to decommission it gracefully when it's no longer needed including dealing with data you may have stored

New features are probably one of the key differentiators of your offering compared to others, but it bears a little consideration before adding something — a feature is not just for Christmas.

Features Are Like Pets is from the excellent Intercom on Product Management podcast (Apple, Spotify, ebook).

You’re welcome to use and share this image and text for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Go wild!
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