One of the customer service platforms you use just announced it has social media integration capabilities! Awesome! An easier way to manage customer accounts and profiles with an already somewhat engaged audience! You’re so happy!!

But wait, before you go into Tools >> Settings >> Social Media and  turn the feature on, step back and breathe. Rule number 1 of feature deployment is after you unleash a feature on your users expect to add that feature to your list of things you, as a technology manager, need to support. What if it breaks? What it needs documentation, promotion, or nurturing? What if it doesn’t work or major changes come down the line making your upgrades a bigger pain?

Don’t get me wrong, change is good (distractions are bad) but before you buy into something, make sure you can afford it. If you decide you can afford to integrate the feature into your organization’s technology portfolio go ahead and do it but have a plan. You may need to deprioritize other projects, add budget money or staff resources for any maintenance, or if the feature actually provides a performance boost, easily cut down on time spent already doing task X.

Going into settings and turning on a new feature isn’t just like turning on a light switch. Well, if you just set the radio button to “On” I guess it is. Before you click your mouse, however, remember your aren’t just clicking a radio button, you are invoking a commitment.

Yes, it is real easy to go into a pet store, buy a pet that your children beg you for and leave with a new family pet within 15 minutes. But the challenge isn’t getting the pet, it is keeping it alive and the family stable. If you aren’t prepared for it after the initial “aw it’s so cute!” stage you end up in a mess figuring out who will do the morning walks, feedings, and pooper scooper duties.

So, before you click that On button ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the resources to maintain this?
  • Do I need to promote this?
  • Is this a solution to a problem I have?
  • Does this make me operate more efficient or does it put more on my plate?
  • Is this something that integrates nicely with what my users already do or is it “just one more thing to check”
  • Is the feature usable for the users? Is it designed well and is it intuitive?

If you are satisfied with the answers to these questions and choose to move on, start exploring the feature. Walk through the process your users will go through in order to use it. Where is it located? Will they find it? Do they need a manual? If it is hard to find and cumbersome to use, are there methods within your control you can improve?

If you are using a vendor system or platform you might not have too much control over usability. Unless the vendor you are partnered with is an expert in usability and user focused design you might end up with something that requires lots of on-screen help messages and documentation that users just won’t read. Hopefully the design is intuitive which allows you to move on to the next step which is roll-out planning.

Come up with a timeline to implement any marketing, documentation and training (hopefully none if the feature is truly intuitive), feature implementation, and launch. Finally set aside time to handle any post-launch activities such as support, maintenance, and improvement. Hopefully you can roll out small features one at a time, improve based on feedback, and continue to move forward rolling out additional features.

As always: Keep iterating and improving. Don’t set it and forget it!

About Chad Leigh Kluck

I enjoy technology development and management by following new trends, change and disruption, and security. I have a Master of Science in Software Engineering and my hobbies include railroads, history, do-it-yourself projects, writing, and ham radio (K0RRX). More...

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