Zac Kwan

@Zaccc123

Building things right or Building the right things?

We often like to build things right and is always easier to do it from the start. But we also like to build the right thing and this is definitely difficult to get it right at the first go, so how should we be doing it?

While I was a Software Engineer or Technical Lead, my decision and concern are always building things right. Some of the common question that I will ask myself are:

  • Is the code understandable by another developer?
  • A few weeks later, will I understand what I wrote?
  • Is it easy to write tests?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Is there any security concern?

When I become a product manager, my mindset changed to building the right things. Progressively, the questions I asked myself changed to:

  • Will users find the feature useful?
  • Does this feature really solve their problem?
  • How can I validate it?
  • How should I measure the success of this upcoming feature?

Having made the switch from coder to product managing, I have the privilege to get the first-hand experience of both worlds.

Which is right?

It seems like both are the right question but it really depends on the phase of the project and also did you already has a validated product.

As a software engineer, I always have this frustration that why can’t we define the right scope and code it right from start? Why must the legacy project always be a pain to work with? Why do we change the requirement after it is being defined?

As a product manager, I feel that information is always lacking. Despite customer interview, we still need to be sure that it a useful feature before committing more man-days to build it right.

What everyone ready wanted

At the end of the day, I feel that everyone in the company would want to contribute and work in a product that brings values to others.

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

Building the right thing is difficult. But if we can release a feature or product and set the right analytics and metrics, we have more confidence to know if we build the right things. Then giving the team the time to build it right should be the logical next step.

Looking at the number of startups that come and go, building the right things is surely difficult. Even some company seems to get it, they neglected the building things right part and become less agile to changes.

The startup who can build the right things and support it with building it right will have a much higher chance in securing the market share.

Thanks for reading! If you like it, please hit 👏👏👏

In the day, I am a technical product lead. At night, I am a maker, engineer, and designer. I enjoy learning and building new things about tech, products, and startup. You can find me on Twitter or on my blog.

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