Let’s Kill That Feature Nobody Uses It

Before you kill a feature, make sure you clearly understand the intended outcome and why it is not being used.

It is easy to say, “let’s kill a feature because nobody uses it”.

Yet, current feature usage does not directly correlate with potential future value.

Features exist and fail for a variety reason.

So, before you kill a feature based on limited usage, follow these three steps to make a more informed decision.

  1. Understand the original target outcome value and (re)confirm its importance
  2. Review the current implementation and identify shortfalls
  3. Create a plan to resolve issues and maximize adoption

Confirm Customer Outcome Value

To understand why a feature lacks adoption, it is best to start again at the beginning. Follow a basic product management process. Ensure clear answers to the following:

  1. Who is your target audience and user personas?
  2. What job, task, workflow, or process challenge are you attacking?
  3. What is the associated pain and costs of the current status quo?
  4. What quantitative outcomes (pain elimination and gain creation) will the proposed solution deliver?

If your answers align with customer experience research and current product priorities, then move to the next step.

If not, the feature is a candidate for removal.

Dig Into Current Implementation Challenges

Once you have decided it is worthwhile to delve further, try to understand why the feature is not used.

Begin with a mapping of the customer journey segment and where the intended feature fits. Establish a clear product workflow that delivers the desired outcomes.

Working with cross functional team, identify the root cause of limited adoption. This approach should highlight technology and operational dependencies. It will also call out training, awareness and usability challenges.

If non-product related reasons are the driver, support the creation of communication and action plan. After implementing the plan, continue to track usage and adoption.

If the underlying cause is product or technology related, continue your investigation. Discuss alternative approaches to deliver the target outcomes. Get customer input. Weigh level of effort and delivery risk.

Once you are comfortable with an approach, write new product requirements (see below). Continued engagement with your teams is critical to ensure alignment and process transparency.

Pull It All Together

With clear requirements in hand, present a unified view of the updated feature. The value and weightings in your established process will drive release prioritization.

After the feature slots into an upcoming sprint, always be available to answer questions and provide guidance. As development begins, support the creation of the technical specification and test plan. As needed, present prototypes to internal experts and support teams as well trusted customers. Finally, coordinate documentation and training with development to synchronize code and product release.

As launch approaches, work closely with your marketing, account and support teams to maximize adoption. Establish a rhythm to review feature usage based on target success metrics. Meet with trusted users to ensure customer outcome value.

Summing It Up

We all hate feature bloat and so do users. Determining your optimal optimal feature set requires a disciplined product management approach.

But if a current feature has limited adoption don’t just kill it.

Understand and rank the target outcome objectives. If the goal is still important then figure out what’s wrong with the current implementation and fix it. If the intended outcome is no longer valid, then remove it.

Good luck.