Situation: A company is about to launch a Beta version of their web-based software. The CEO strives for perfection. What is sufficient for launch, and can the company tolerate imperfections in Beta version? When is “good enough” enough?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Many successful software companies – think Microsoft – have realized that finishing the last 10-20% of a new release can be as expensive and time consuming as the first 80-90%. The challenges are often greater and it’s difficult to prioritize the final pieces. So they release when the software is 80-90% complete, prioritize the final pieces based on user feedback, and focus on quick response to user feedback.
- You really have no idea how users will experience a new web-based program until you hear it from them. They will tell you what does and does not need to be fixed. They may even be able to help you fix it! Craig’s list stinks from a pure GUI perspective, but is highly popular and successful.
- Get the Beta program out ASAP. What you perceive as imperfections may not appear as problems to young Beta users, and may in a way add a quirky appeal to the user experience.
- Find a customer or group of customers who will pay for the program. Only this proves its actual worth. There can be conditions for a Beta release and discounts, but if nobody is willing to pay, where is the value?
- Consider releasing your Beta version in a college campus environment and invite both participation and feedback. College students are very web-savvy, more tolerant of Beta programs, and crave the opportunity to contribute.
- As an additional bonus, when you are ready to launch, college students are great at helping you generate buzz and early adoption because they talk to so many of their friends from both college and high school.