In the cut-throat tech world, the few who survive often have one thing in common:
They ship incredibly fast.
Staying ahead in the competitive market is the key to success.
But fast shipping doesn't mean rushing products or releasing useless features - it means being agile, flexible, and efficient in product development and release.
Startups are known for their rapid growth, and product shipping speed is a key indicator.
Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, suggests frequently releasing new features can predict startup success. Regular updates show a company's flexibility and commitment to improving its product.
Why does this matter?
Simply put, when you ship quickly, you learn from your customers, iterate quicker, and identify valuable offerings for your users.
Today I’ll share six simple yet unconventional strategies that can help you deliver value to your users (and you) at the speed of light.
Ready? Let's get into it.
Strategy 1: Say No to Staging
Staging environments, used for testing with simulated data or unreleased interfaces, can sometimes slow down the process.
To speed this up, use a feature flag system. This lets you test a specific user experience on a subset of your users in production while still keeping things safe.
This way, you're just one click away from going live.
But remember, this approach means your engineers need to be more responsible, ensuring their features are ready and free from bugs.
The trick is to adopt a feature flab system…
Strategy 2: Adopt a feature flag system
A feature flag is a way to flag a specific user experience for only a portion of your users. When you do that, you can learn from production but also be on the safe side.
If you want to be the only one to try it out, you can also only flag yourself or your company or your account, which makes it a type of staging environment without the deployment overhead.
The great thing about adopting this system is that you are always one click away from going live.
Your engineering will now know that when you ship something into the feature flag, it’s only one click away from being released by a Product Manager - usually using very simple no-code interfaces or tools like LaunchDarkly.
Strategy 3: QA Straight Away
Switching between different tasks (aka context-switching) can slow down engineers.
Instead of jumping from one task to another, implement immediate quality assurance (QA). This means checking the work right after it's done.
A quick 10-20 minute QA can speed up delivery by solving issues on the spot.
While some companies have specific QA roles, many startups find that everyone can participate in QA, creating a culture of shared responsibility and speed.
Strategy 4: Minimize the Scope
A smaller scope allows you to deliver projects faster and more effectively.
The key is to dream big but start small.
Big ideas are exciting, but they often require a lot of time and resources.
By breaking projects into smaller parts and shipping them incrementally, you can accelerate overall delivery.
This strategy also allows for immediate user feedback, enabling you to make necessary adjustments quickly.
Having a clear scoping phase in your product development process can help you set your initial milestone, collect feedback promptly, and determine the next steps quicker, laying the groundwork for rapid, iterative progress.
Strategy 5: Be Consistent With Changelogs
Changelogs, whether public or internal, are a great tool to help maintain your shipping pace.
Regular updates on your team's activities and what you've delivered can foster a sense of urgency and focus, effectively pushing your team to deliver quickly and consistently.
By establishing a regular cadence of updates, your team can remain accountable and motivated, knowing that their progress will be documented and communicated.
This creates momentum that can significantly speed up your shipping cycle.
Our public Changelog at June can be filtered by weeks, months, and years. It’s a great motivator for us and allows us to show our users how much we care. ♥️
Strategy 6: Define Clear Engineering Ownership
Clear ownership of tasks can significantly speed up your delivery.
When engineers are responsible for solving a user's problem, they are more invested in the result, which means they’re more motivated to deliver faster.
There are fewer delays and bottlenecks because each engineer has a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities.
By empowering engineers to take ownership, you cultivate a culture of accountability and speed.
I spoke about the power of engineering ownership with Hiten Shah, Co-Founder & CEO of KISSmetrics:
While they may seem unconventional, these six strategies can profoundly improve and speed up your delivery and ultimately drive your product's success.
In the fast-paced world of tech startups, speed is of the essence, and these strategies can help you stay ahead of the curve.
So, move forward, adopt these techniques, and watch your shipping pace skyrocket.
I hope these strategies help you as much as they've helped me and the rest of the June team.
Remember, success isn't just about having brilliant ideas; it's about bringing them to life as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
If you've discovered other strategies that work well, I'd love to hear about them! DM me on LinkedIn, and I’ll share your ideas with the rest of the world.