Product Launch

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E92: 80 Percent Of Product Development Is Wasted

Pendo’s feature adoption report tells us that 80% of product development is wasted.

This means product development processes everywhere have a long way to go to becoming more effective.

When’s the last time your team evaluated how many of your customers are using those latest features?

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Episode Transcript
Hey folks, Sean here, and today what I wanna talk to you about is a rather shocking statistic as it pertains to product development and its level of effectiveness. So as a B2B SaaS consultant, I help a lot of my clients with getting more out of their product development process. . My long suspicion was that a significant portion of product development was not particularly effective.

What I mean by that is the process of figuring out what we’re planning to build next, building it, shipping it, and then measuring its effectiveness probably was missing. Most of the time upon doing a little bit more research from a company called Pendo, who does essentially feature adoption work, so they have software that helps you solve this as a challenge for SaaS companies.

They released what they call their feature adoption report, and in it they explain that up to 80% of SaaS product features are either rarely or never used. Which is shocking to me. Well, maybe not that shocking because I see this work all the time, but it’s, when you put it in perspective in terms of the effectiveness of the process, that’s pretty poor level of performance and seemingly on average for a lot of product development companies, for a lot of SaaS companies, that the vast majority of their efforts are.

So I want to try to interpret what I think this statistic really means, to put it in context for you if you’re on a product development team, and that to me, what that looks like in terms of what’s actually happening at your company is that 80% of what you’re investing into product development, which includes a lot, product teams, engineering teams, design testing, all of that effort is essentially a total.

So from a financial perspective, it’s a pretty poor investment and very low rate of return. Secondly, 80% of your backlog, which is a lot of what we are all managing from in terms of where we’re going next with the product, essentially amounts to useless or very low value add feature set. If 80% of what’s ultimately being shipped into these products.

Rarely or never used. That means your backlog is full of junk, essentially, and that’s not gonna make your product any better. In fact, quite the opposite, eight outta 10 features that you ship are more than likely to make your product experience worse. I talk about this a lot as well too, because if most of what you’re shipping is not making your product experience better, whatever you ship, that doesn’t make your product experience better.

It makes it worse because you’re adding functionality that people are not using. So you’re cluttering their experience up. You keep adding features that don’t add value for them sooner rather than later. They’re gonna wind up with a feature set that isn’t really offering them a ton of value, and it’s definitely getting worse.

So you end up ruining your product experience. So anyway, I wanted to share this statistic with you because I think it’s pretty alarming and I think this should cause product teams everywhere to look more inward.  as it pertains to what is the level of effectiveness of your product development process, because none of this, to me, sounds particularly effective.

In fact, this sounds awfully wasteful and ineffective. So my question for you, and what I wanna challenge you or leave you with today is that I want you to ask yourself, when’s the last time you evaluated? The latest set of product features that you shipped into your SaaS or whatever type of product you’re building to measure its level of effectiveness, as in how many of your customers are using it and how frequently are they using it.

That should give you an idea whether or not they’re getting value out of it. If they’re not, you need to make some big changes to your product development process.