Introducing Feature Debt – the unconventional sibling of Tech Debt

We have all heard of Tech Debt, and we're probably terrified of building so much debt that our team stops being able to deliver. However, a less commonly discussed, but just as powerful issue also exists - Feature Debt. Feature Debt is simply the accrued cost of constantly adding new functionality into your product or system instead of building better, more complete solutions. At best you have more expensive product delivery and, at worst, you run the risk of losing your customers and your team because of Feature Debt. The number of features that can ultimately cause Feature Debt will differ for each organization given different resources, velocity, architecture, etc., but none are immune to building too much. For the purposes of this discussion, I will use the term "feature" to be functionality, both big and small, that is a new and/or separate capability.

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Talk

Introduction

What is Feature Debt

How you Amass Feature Debt

The Impact of Feature Debt

How to Avoid Feature Debt

Wrap Up

Learning Outcome

Ultimately, the goal is to help transform product development practices to deliver great products by avoiding the pitfalls created by Feature Debt. Getting started, this will help teams be mindful of adding new features before the existing ones are achieving their outcome. As the product grows, it will help to be on the lookout for the common pitfalls and impact of Feature Debt to change how they are building products.

Target Audience

Product Managers, Product Owners, and Product Leaders. This will also be helpful for those in Engineering or UX positions.

Prerequisites for Attendees

While there are no specific prerequisites, it would be best if attendees have at least a couple years of experience in building products, ideally software products, in any environment (startup, growth, mature). Many of these concepts are based on the principles defined in the book "Inspired, How to Create Tech Products Customers Love," so reading that book would help provide context.

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