25 November 2019

The holidays are coming, this is how we’re preparing

feature #ecommerce #platform
Bas Wienhoven
Product Owner | Mijnwebwinkel

Today, until the beginning of 2020, we declare a feature freeze. What it is and why we do it? Let me explain.

All year we do our best to bring you new features, improve existing ones, and squash bugs. The method we use to make sure this goes smoothly is called Scrum. This scrum process works in cycles of one or two weeks. One cycle is called a sprint. We is done is determined by the scrum team’s Product Owner and developers. The Product Owner ranks features and improvements by priority (a.k.a. business value) and the developers make sure they can deliver within the sprint.

At the end of a sprint, a bunch of new code is constantly deployed and taken into production. If all goes well, no one notices anything. If something goes wrong, which occasionally happens, a bug appears. Bugs, we need to solve. This usually happens within the same sprint or in the next one. Sometimes we decide not to fix something if no user is impacted by it (software without bugs doesn’t exist. You can always find one ;-) )

It can happen, during a sprint, we discover that a chosen solution (code-wise) is not the best one and it could’ve been nicer.

Like you used to write a letter in draft before using a pen and your finest writing skills to write a postcard. For the younger generation: Without autocorrect, you can still understand what your friends are saying on WhatsApp when reading the misspelled words. But with autocorrect, it is just so much nicer.

We have the opportunity to make it nicer immediately or to keep it as is. Most of the time we chose to keep it as is when the solution checks all boxes for the requirements and there is no (big) risk in leaving it. Still, it is clever to, at some point, refactor your code anyways. The adjustment could be a nanosecond faster or it could improve readability which makes it easier for colleagues to understand. Especially when you have to adjust the code later on this adjustment could improve velocity.

A feature freeze is a moment in which we agreed to not release anything new. This doesn’t mean we collectively go on holiday but the focus of our activities shifts. Usually, the added value for our users is most important, like the most voted for suggestions. During the feature freeze, we’ll focus on quality, continuity, and platform performance. Bluntly; fix bugs and tighten our internal processes. This moment also gives us the opportunity to plan ahead and research our next steps.

The holiday season is the busiest time of year. Most merchants will see their revenue go through the roof. So it’s an important moment. To properly support you we’ll focus on the quality of our platform, as said earlier. At the beginning of 2020, we’ll start releasing new features again. So aim for the skies and make this season unforgettable. Happy selling! ;-)

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