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You’re Doing App Configurability All Wrong

Any time you want to augment a feature in a consumer-facing digital experience like a mobile app or website, it is tedious, time consuming, and resource-intensive… Why is that?

Your ability to roll out new features and enhance existing ones is fundamentally flawed. Not only that; the entire process of feature experimentation before a formal roll-out is flawed. Basically, it all comes down to configurability.

Configurable software means that you can adapt to ever-changing business needs to drive business metrics like retention and growth. In software development, configurability is the hub of a wheel with many spokes: testing, deployment, maintenance, budget, and personalization among them.

With product development, change is a guarantee. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when. The key to adapting to that change lies in the flexible code of configurable software. Here’s what you need to know.

Challenges Getting in the Way of Configurability

1. The Business vs. Engineering Configurability Conflict

Configurability is the foundation of agile product development. But here’s where it usually goes wrong…

In the late stages of development, your product has finally taken shape. Your product rolls out, and your user feedback rolls in, creating a more complete picture of what is working and what is not. You’ve had some marketing wins, collected valuable data, and ran some experiments.

The next building block you need to put in place is continuous improvement. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to tweak. To get continually better, you need to build the foundation for improving existing features, adding new ones, and sunsetting existing features that don’t work. These are product team initiatives as you try to create a better digital experience for your users. But, they hinge on the ability of the engineering teams to implement, test, and deploy.

In their day-to-day, technical teams are responsible for carrying out numerous feature requests and requirements. They are preoccupied with everything from new development activities to maintenance requests to performance enhancement and security. Overstretched tech teams juggle multiple priorities.

The last thing that business and product teams want to do is annoy the engineers, and vice versa. They don’t want to have to wait on each other. But it ends up happening all the time. Teams often can’t keep up with each other in a constantly-changing business world and IT environment. What should be a collaborative team effort becomes two opposing sides, battling to accomplish conflicting priorities.

Configurability paves the way for creating symbiosis between business and engineering teams while still maintaining the strict governance to ensure that that nothing breaks. It takes a forward-thinking tool to empower marketing and growth teams while still maintaining control over the coding environment.

2. A “One-And-Done” Release Process Doesn’t Scale

No one throws a perfect pitch the first time they pick up a baseball. The same goes for a first-time launch of a feature or functionality; inevitably, you’re going to need to make changes. Configurability frees you from having to be perfect on the first try.

You need a symbiotic relationship between technology teams and the other teams driving the requirements. As requirements change, configurability allows you to tweak without having to go through another entire release cycle. Business users need to be able to make changes without having to take up the bandwidth of the tech team.

If your software development process is based on a “one-and-done” release and your engineers move on to other projects, the ONLY way to continue to enhance your product in a timely manner is to make your apps configurable.  

The Benefits of Configurability

Key benefits of a configurable digital experience are:

  1. Rapid, frequent, voluminous, and stringent testing
  2. Removal of product/business teams’ dependence on engineering teams
  3. The ability to create infinite variants of experiments without needing another engineering release
  4. A scalable framework that enables personalization at a rapid scale

Most companies today utilize an A/B testing methodology, with two different user variants hard-coded into their apps. This process of hard-coding is flawed. For example, say a business team asks a tech team to A/B test Variant A and Variant B to see which one gets more engagement. Once they have the results of that test, they need more information: it’s time to test two new variants – Variant C and Variant D. As the experiment evolves, more hard-coded engineering is required to set up new experiments, over and over.

Again – the business teams ask the engineering team to code for the new test. This process requires going back to engineers, time and time again, with all of the back and forth that entails.  Depending upon engineering bandwidth (which is always constrained), the time taken to deploy these changes doesn’t fall within acceptable time frames, given business conditions and intense competition in the marketplace.

Truly Continuous, Rapid Testing

With the Hansel Platform, continuous iteration is a breeze. You don’t need to work exclusively with hard-coding anymore. Hard code is converted to configurations that are intuitive and easy for business and product owners to make enhancements to the product.

As market dynamics change, business and product teams need to stay fleet-footed, iterating constantly on their feature sets. To make this happen, they need the flexibility to make immediate changes to their product, without being hampered by the constraints of engineering teams. The world is changing. Your business model isn’t static. When change is inevitable, an inflexible product can only slow you down.

Through app configurability, your team has the room to grow: learning through new feature incorporation, modification, and experimentation. Business and product teams can arrive at an optimal result, WITHOUT burdening busy engineering teams.

So, business and product teams — it’s time to eliminate your dependency on engineering. You have the power to drive key metrics like retention and growth. Experiment more frequently, and personalize as you see fit. Delight your customer and deliver a powerful digital experience. And this is made possible by having the right framework to make your apps configurable.

Learn more about Hansel.

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