Rearchitecting your platform is a necessary evil but every software company has to suck it up at least once. If you’re fortunate enough to have success over the long haul, you’ll do it a few times.
It’s total stress though, especially for product management and product development teams because of the tremendous pressure to deliver feature parity in the initial release or very soon thereafter. Don’t stress! Feature parity shouldn’t be your goal for a host of reasons.
The Goal of Rearchitecting Your Platform
I’ll get straight to the point. Your target customers need to do things differently today than they did years ago and your current architecture simply doesn’t allow them to do it the way they want.
Then there’s all the new things they have to accomplish, and you can’t help them because the feature set required would be a nightmare to build on your current platform.
Of course, your customers hate change but eventually they get over it if you deliver a new platform that makes their job easier and makes them more successful.
Last but not least, there’s your business model and your organization’s strategic and financial goals. Your current platform just isn’t going to support new opportunities and business practices necessary to drive revenue, growth and customer retention going forward.
Feature Parity Expectations
And now for the most ridiculous of expectations, feature parity! It took a decade or more to get your platform to where it is today. In what universe can you duplicate those capabilities in 1–2 years or less? It’s not even necessary.
You Don’t Need Feature Parity!
See above. Your customers are doing new and different things or doing the same old things in new ways. Feature parity doesn’t even make sense in a lot cases.
Sure, your customers still need to admit patients, run payroll, pay bills, collect money, etc. They just don’t want to do it the same old way. That’s why feature parity shouldn’t be a priority. It’ll happen by default where necessary.
Strive For Outcome Parity!
That’s right. Shoot for outcome parity. Your target customers still want and need to accomplish the same things. How they get there is the part that needs to change.
The good news is the new ways of getting to those same outcomes are usually a lot easier than they used to be because of the technology advances.
Look at the evolution of technology from the VCR to the DVR to streaming video. The outcome has never changed from the start. Consumers have always wanted to watch what they want, when they want, and where they want.
The list of obstacles has gotten exponentially shorter with each iteration of technology. That’s why feature parity shouldn’t be the goal.
Before You Even Think About Features…
Do the following before you even consider features. It will help you rethink how you get target customers from point A to point B. You’ll need to have a lot of customer conversations here.
Start with the most important business outcomes your target customers need to realize in areas where your products are relevant. Understand why they’re important to the success of their business. Then simply identify the biggest obstacles standing in the way of those outcomes.
The technology will make it so much easier to get customers to the same outcomes without worrying about feature parity. Where feature parity is necessary, it’ll take care of itself if you’re focused on the job tasks, outcomes, obstacles and customer success metrics.
Supporting Your Organization’s Strategy
This is where technology decisions are critical. Your sales, marketing, pricing strategy and the manner in which you deploy, cross-sell and up-sell is a huge consideration. Product support is another strong consideration due to its impact on the overall customer experience.
Be careful to keep this part of the equation in proper perspective. There has to be a balance when it comes to delivering customer value versus supporting your own strategy.
Too many organizations rearchitect their platforms primarily to serve their own business goals without enough consideration to the customer journey, and they end up delivering a terrible customer experience on a new platform. In fact, many rearchitected platforms create more problems for customers than they solve!
The Bottom Line on Rearchitecting Your Platform
Rearchitecting your platform is a massive undertaking to say the least. But it’s also an opportunity to understand your target customers at a much deeper level and create products they’ll quickly become addicted to.
As you’d expect, there will always be customers that want the new thing to work just like the old thing until they’re forced to change. Then they’ll be the first to complain that you didn’t change anything!
Time and resource restraints are a given with something of this magnitude. That’s why a long-term vision and strategy (customer-value based) is so critical to success. It helps you execute on that vision in increments instead of trying to boil the ocean in a single release.
If you’re about to embark on rearchitecting your platform, contact us about learning outcome-based product management and make it easier (in relative terms) to get more value to market sooner without stressing over feature parity.