2 minute read / Sep 18, 2014 / saas /
What You’re Making Is In A Perpetual State Of Almost Right Up Until The End
Jason Fried, co-founder of 37Signals and Basecamp, published a blog post today called Faith in Eventually that captures the emotional tensions of building a product:
During the development of most any product, there are always times when things aren’t quite right. Times when you feel like you may be going backwards a bit. Times where it’s almost there, but you can’t yet figure out why it isn’t. Times when you hate the thing today that you loved yesterday. Times when what you had in your head isn’t quite what you’re seeing in front of you. Yet. That’s when you need to have faith.
My favorite line from the post is this one:
Remember that what you’re making is in a perpetual state of almost right up until the end.
Today, many products are perpetually in a state-of-almost. Being in that state-of-almost means the product is living, evolving, changing and improving. Only when they sunsetted, retired and shut down do they stop being in the state-of-almost - in other words, complete.
Years ago, software development teams planned and feverishly coded their way to a final copy of the software called the General Availability version that would be burned onto a gold disc and then copied onto thousands of CDs or DVDs, or distributed in some other fashion. At that point, the product and engineering teams could plant a flag and claim to be done - at least for a while.
But, today, most of the web and mobile software development is no longer managed this way. Many startups release new Generally Available versions of their software several times daily. At Redpoint, we use RelateIQ for our CRM and the message “RelateIQ is out of date. Please refresh your browser” is a daily reminder of the efforts of the RelateIQ team to continuously improve the product.
This rapid deployment pace places product and engineering teams continually in the state that Jason described in the first excerpt above - the struggle to create the perfect product.
This idea is a really important one, especially today. It’s the part of SaaS, we don’t talk about very frequently, the Service part, service to the user. The very best products are the ones that are perpetually in a state-of-almost. They are the ones that rise to meet the needs of their users, even as those needs change over time.