Debate

How Often Should You Release New Features?

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

Many product managers can probably sympathize with the out-of-breath Alice in Wonderland white rabbit, exhausted by the unrelenting pressure to stay on track with their release schedule.

Everyone celebrates new features, and product managers have to figure out how to please many stakeholders: Sales trying to push deals with feature promises; CS trying to please an unhappy customer; marketing looking for a great new story to tell; management teams wanting to feel forward propulsion; customers looking for proof that they’re getting their money’s worth.

But should product managers keep the features coming, or is it better to dole out features on a schedule?

In this week’s poll, 57% of you reported that you release features continuously. Our debaters think that feature release schedules are a nuanced art that should take into account the type of business you’re in, the type of product you’re releasing, and the type of customers you have. In other words, sometimes you want to be the rabbit rushing to get things out the door. Other times, you’re more of a Cheshire cat, sitting on things to amplify their impact. Hopefully, you’re not too much of a mad hatter.

What do you think – should PMs release feature continuously? Tell us in the comments.

On a set schedule

"We used to do continuous release but found that because of the nature of our business (B2B) launches were more effective if bundled and timed appropriately based on time of year for our customers. However, we do use feature flags and a staging environment to derisk launches from a development perspective. "

Camilla Velasquez
Head of Product and Marketing, JustWorks
Depends

"Definitely depends on the customer and the type of product. Some of our more tool-oriented products release continuously and customers love it. Some of our larger, more enterprise-class business application release on a spring-fall cadence which matches up better with their ability to take on new capabilities."

Patrick Tickle
CPO, Planview
Ask your users

"The real question is: “how frequently do your customers want you to release product?” If they expect continuously, great, but if they can only consume features at certain points throughout the year (education software comes to mind), releases should be throttled to match your customer’s ability to digest them."

Kirsten Butzow
Product Coach, Pragmatic Marketing
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