Working on features with no value – frustrating

Few things on a project are as frustrating as being forced to work on a feature that adds no value to the immediate goal of releasing a product. When project managers who are new to product development confuse product ship date with the project deadline, you end up being forced to deliver features that will not be used for weeks or even months to come. Perhaps, not ever. That’s when you sit staring, with a twitch in your eye, at the most basic story. Those “I’d rather be <fill in the blank>” license plate holders immediately come to mind.

As a startup, perhaps, you harbor visions of grandeur, thinking of the time when you’ll be a billion-dollar company employing several hundred people in your back-office operations. But on day one, month one, even month two or three — you are not. Building features and interfaces designed to make the lives of your potential future employees easier is probably not the best use of one’s time when you’re close to launch and your current employee count is at zero.

Focus on your product. Make sure it is appealing and easy to use. Make sure that it will attract that first million-dollar customer and will enable him to do business with you. And if in the mean time your initial staff of employees has to jump through a couple of hoops and push a few too many buttons to service this million-dollar customer, well — attribute that to growing pains.