When you run out of time or money, ship

I often think about what Seth Godin says here.

“The guys at 37Signals write in almost everything they talk that there are two secrets — actually one — to shipping something on time and on budget. And the secret is: When you run out of money or you run out of time, you ship. Then you’re on time and on budget. If your mindset is that I ship, that’s not just a convenient shortcut, it’s in fact an obligation. And you build your work around that obligation. Then instead of someone who’s a wandering generality, someone who has lots of great and ideas and if only, if only, if only, you were someone who always ends up shipping. … And if you’re proud of what you ship, and you do it on time and on budget, you get to do it again.”

Is it better to ship a product on time and on budget, but only 85% of what you’d initially planned for – or ship a week late, and/or x% over budget, but 95 or 100% of what you’d initially planned for?

Obviously, it depends on the product, but it’s interesting that it feels so much more likely that a project gets delayed to take a final stab at getting to 100% of the initial intent, rather than finishing on time and on budget, but not quite getting everything in.

I forget where I read this (probably *Joel on Software), but *someone said when he lays out a new product, he makes three lists. The features he absolutely must have included, the products that’d be nice to have in but aren’t absolutely required, and the features that’d be cool to explore, but only if time allows. Then you build out List 1, then List 2, and lastly List 3, as time permits. That makes total sense. Then, if you only get to 85%, you at least haven’t wasted time on features from the “nice to have” or “cool to explore” lists.


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