Feature Factory- Explanation, how to spot and avoid a feature factory situation, and FAQs

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Feature Factory

Feature Factory is a negative term in the product management language that is attributed to a company that produces a lot of features without prioritizing quality over quantity. 

It is used for criticism of the business that focuses on designing more and more features without approaching to solve the user issues. This feature bloat leads to a feature factory.

Product management evangelist and coach John Cutler coined the term feature factory after examining that certain businesses were more inclined to increase their products’ functions instead of product solutions to user-centric problems. 

When there is a feature factory, creativity and problem solving can be negatively impacted.

The employees also may start feeling disinterested because they are not solving the challenges and thus stop growing. 

So any company should keep away from this pitfall.

Signs of a Feature Factory 

These are some of the common signs that can tell you if a business has turned into a feature factory according to industry experts: 

  • No measurement of success

In any business, you need to see how your efforts are reflected in the output you gain after completion of any task. A feature factory is one that doesn’t focus on measuring the impact of its work.

  • Hastily shuffling the teams or projects 

This exhausts the team members and disturbs their consistency.

  • Success theatre around shipping

This relates to prioritising quantity over quality. It’s essentially when you show success only related to production of more features.

  • Infrequent failures

The main objective of the company becomes delivering more features instead of outcomes. When improvements aren’t made and features are not removed or replaced.

  • No connection to core metrics

There is no connection of the work with customer satisfaction and major business goals. 

  • No retrospections by product managers 

Regular retrospective meetings by the product manager to discuss the quality of the product are absent. 

  • Obsession with prioritisation

Deciding on what has to be worked on and validating if this prioritisation was right is usually missing in a feature factor. 

  • No tweaking 

After finishing off with one task, the team moves on to the next without reviewing the former one for error tweaking. 

Ways to avoid feature factory style process

  • Measure the results and analyze them.
  • Product managers should do retrospectives regularly
  • Avoid rapid shuffling of teams
  • Don’t make a success theatre out of outputs, measure the outcomes first. 
  • Iterative approach to enhance product quality. Implement an agile framework in the product development process.
  • Replace and remove features that are complex enough to decrease user satisfaction. 

FAQs 

Q: What’s wrong with a feature factory? 

A: Feature factory state means monotonously prioritising quantity over quality. The project lacks newness, creativity and problem solving. This reflects in the poor performance of the company and losing hold over the market to competitors. The product quality deteriorates and more complexity dissatisfies the user. But interestingly a feature factory is one that measures success through outputs and not outcomes and therefore the company won’t be able to realise that it is failing fast enough. 

Q: What is a feature bloat? 

A: Overloading of unnecessary features or functions in a product is called feature overloading. Feature bloating turns a company into a feature factory. Feature bloat makes it difficult for the customer to use the product. 

Q: How can a company avoid getting into the feature factory stage? 

A: Some useful methods: 
Measuring and analyzing outcomes.
Conducting retrospectives.
Avoid rapid shuffling of teams.
Iterative approach and using agile methodologies. 
Avoid feature bloats by replacing and removing unnecessary and complex features. 

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