It is just a minor change, let me do it, why are you being so fussy about it? Said a developer to his boss and the Product Manager. Most minor changes lead to this debate. It might be between Developer and PM or QA and PM. However, most of us tend to ignore the cost involved in a minor change. It is just not the engineering cost (read effort) but a host of other costs which are ignored generally by the engineering team which makes a PM Fussy about a minor change.
Let’s try and understand all the costs associated with a minor change. For the sake of explanation, imagine adding country as a separate field when collecting addresses of users.
They say “A good design means good business”. This short sentence speaks volumes about the importance of design in software engineering. Considering the complexity of different form factors, this has become all the more important. As developers, you tend to jump into code. In this case the forms will need to be adjusted for the new field. The design has to be made of desktop, mobile, and other screen sizes in between. Consider if forms need extra vertical scroll. Everywhere the address displayed will also need changes.
Once you get a good design, you will have to work on its front end. Again form factor will play an important role. If that wasn’t enough, the presence and usage of different browsers add more to the complexity of an already difficult problem.
The backend of your software will also undergo a sizable change from as simple as changing the queries to fetch data from your Database to as complicated as adding new fields in the database. If you have multiple databases in your software, the changes might have to be replicated across databases depending on the structure.
Your Graphics designer is not going to sit idle as well. Even for a small field like country, you will have to add images like country flags. Low on size, but on high clarity images will do a better job as compared to others.
In this case, all those emails (Be it internal or external) where you are sending an address will need a change, since the fields are separate. Depending on the quantum of your change, emails will undergo a change as well.
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If your software has the feature to export reports in any format and the change you are making will impact those reports, then the reports will also have to be re-worked. For illustration, in this case, one might want to add country as a separate column rather than as a merged field in address.
One might want to add an event around the new field or new change so that the effectiveness of the change can be tracked using any analytics tool. Tracking analytics is one of the understated impacts of software change.
Making a software change, should have some return as well unless it is a coding or a design error. Depending on the change, you might have to adjust your ads as well so that they don’t end up throwing errors and generate the expected return.
A designer is good at design, a developer is a good at writing code. But both of them being good at writing copy, not certain. So you might have to engage a copywriter as well to write easy to understand and crisp copies.
When everyone is involved in making a minor change work, why should the Marketer be left behind. The change needs to be communicated to all the existing and potential users. You might choose to do it through Social Media, Email, Notifications, but the change needs to be communicated.
To sum up, that’s the cost of the minor change and those are the people it will involve. So next time, you think the boss is getting too fussy about a small change, most likely he has read our blog.
Ashutosh works as a Product Manager at Refrens.com – India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. He has helped some renowned technology companies with their product