The problem with every pilot is always the date.
Always has been, always will be, primarily because when we agree on a pilot we are doing it off of what we know at a certain point in time before the pilot begins.
We think we know what we are going to build and be able to get done.
By that date.
As you approach the pilot, you realize you might not get there – either the delivery was too ambitious, the workload grew, problems arose, people and teams changed, whatever the reason – you’re not going to hit the date.
At this point in time you have a few options available to you.
- Reduce the Feature List – let’s be honest, this rarely happens, turning things off is not as easy as it sounds if you didn’t plan for it and not a last-minute thing you want to be doing.
- Extend the Timeline – the easiest option, but also can lead to a loss of confidence with your customers.
- Cancel the Pilot – At the far end of the spectrum, you can completely cancel the pilot, but then you’d be denying yourself valuable feedback.
- Reduce the Audience – You might have initially wanted to offer the pilot to everyone (or a large grouping of customers) but now you need to reduce who sees it.
When considering these options, I’m not generally fond of extending the date. The team has been working towards a deliverable and it needs to go out the door. It is also a great pat on the back for what the team has done and accomplished – “we made it”. In some cases we can reduce some of the features, but again, unless you have already planned for this, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to just “do”.
My preferred option is to reduce the audience. It might be a difference of days or weeks, but with a smaller audience, a known audience, a friendly audience – your team is still getting something out there, they are going to start getting feedback and your product is going to start getting better.
The first three options are knee-jerk reactions to something going wrong, Reducing your audience is a plan to keep the momentum going and address the problem at large.