How do we prioritize feature requests?

As customers use Common Goal Systems products, they often have suggestions and request new features.  We value this feedback, and use it when deciding on software development work.  Many of our best product improvements come from feature requests.  We encourage all customers to send us their thoughts, there’s a “Feedback” link at the top of every page.

In any software company, the list of requested features greatly exceeds development capacity. Unfortunately we can’t implement them all, so we need to choose the best features to build.  We try to keep the process thoughtful and democratic.  The goal is to provide the most value to the largest number of customers for the development effort invested.  How do we choose?

  • Each time a feature is requested, we add a vote to it.  We give greater priority to features with many customer votes.  We very frequently implement features that are widely requested.
  • We also have a strategic list.  If a feature request is related to something we’re already planning to build, we often fold it into the larger project.
  • We use our judgement.  Often feature requests are a forehead-slapping moment for us, “I can’t believe we’ve never thought of that!  It’ll be so awesome, we HAVE to build it!”

The flip side of this process is that there are many features we don’t build.

  • Some suggestions are not a good idea, and we don’t build those.
  • We resist building single-customer features.  We view ourselves as advocates for the entire customer base, and want to maximize the benefit provided to the largest number of users.  It’s both equitable and good business.
  • Simplicity is a feature, and complexity is confusing.  There’s negative utility inherent in every new feature, due to increased complexity.  The value of the new feature needs to greatly outweigh the new complexity.

After building a feature, we notify users who voted for it.  We want them to be aware of the new feature, and feel good that they helped us make the product better.

We don’t typically say, “no,” to a feature.  It’s possible that it may accumulate more votes in the future.

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