Insights and outlooks on software development


On prioritizing requirements

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 by Thomas L

Recently, David Anderson wrote a piece about how to prioritize and plan requirements; in short he posed the question: "What to do first, basic requirements (commodity) or advanced, high-risk stuff (differentiators)", and answered "prioritize commodities in the first iterations; differentiators afterwards". The reason for this is to minimize risk since differentiators "may turn out to be features that the customer will not want". I agree on a general basis, but this answer is basically too simple, and the following example doesn't really make me convinced either.

Let's run through a short example on why I don't agree; let's look at the iPhone. When iPhone 2G launched, it lacked commodities like 3G and MMS messaging, standard features in more or less all phones having a mid-level pricetag and up, that work on the GSM-kind of network (GSM, 2,5G, WCDMA, HSPA). But it still had some real nice differentiators in a great UX when surfing the web, utilizing iPod UI and iTunes synching. Then Apple launched iPhone 3G, which filled in some of the holes in the feature map for iPhone, but there still is neither clipboard nor MMS support. Why? My answer is that the iPhone team decided to build a phone that wasn't intended for everyone and thus decided to side-step some of the commodities in the mobile phone/smartphone market. This shortened the time to release and let them focus on the differentiators, which is the reason people buy it at all. This view on not satisfying everyone makes the iPhone, as I see it, the number one love-it-or-hate-it phone.

2 kommentarer:

Wille said...

I love the iPhone as an internet device, I'm not convinced by it as a phone.
That makes me very torn about it's usefuleness for me personally. Ideally I'd get an iPhone with a 3G data plan only, and keep my current phone as a phone..

Thomas L said...

Yep, I know. That's why I linked to your post. The reason is that you don't approve of the point Apple engineers placed the tradeoff size/weight <-> battery life, and that's a perfectly good standpoint, and that's why I am using your post as the example that nothing can be everything to everyone.