Software Development Blog

The Feature List Test

Introduction

I am sure you have been to a site and seen something like this:

Feature Table Example

It is an example features list table used by software companies around the world to promote the various features of different versions of their software. Although feature tables are great for picking the version of the software you want they also contain a number of physiological selling techniques, in this case:

  • A low or free tier to get you on the ladder and create and impression of value for money.

  • Rapidly increasing prices as the features increase, not necessarily increasing in line with their value.

  • A high or very high priced tier to make the other tiers look even better value for money. People in general don’t buy the cheapest or most expensive versions of anything, they are most comfortable being somewhere in the middle. (Hands up how many of you have bought the second cheapest bottle of wine in a restaurant!)

  • A most popular badge to draw attention to one the software company really wants you to buy. (Who among us doesn’t want to be in the most popular group?)

The Feature List Test

You might be in the process of upgrading your software or looking at some new software for your business and as part of that we want to set a really simple task. Once you have narrowed down your choice to one or two companies print out the feature lists. Highlight the column (version) you are going to need to meet your requirements and then cross out all the features you don’t need. Finally look at the more expensive versions and highlight anything that you do need but is too expensive, or you can see a strong need for them in the future.

If there are features that you need that are not in any of the columns then jot those underneath the table.

If any of the following have happened then get it touch with us:

  • You have crossed out 40%+ of the features in the version you are considering, i.e. over a third of what you are about to pay for you don’t need.

  • You have highlighted a small number of features from the more expensive columns.

  • You have had to add any missing features to the bottom of the table.

In fact, if one of the above has happened then scan in your modified feature list and send it to us by email (info@fullmetalsoftware.com).

Why is it an important test to do?

The test above is really quick and easy to do. It is also very important.

Firstly when people are choosing software they often have their checklist of what they want it to do but they rarely think about what the off the shelf software they are looking at does that they don’t need. In effect you are paying for stuff you don’t or will never need and also those not required features can get in the way of the usability of the software by adding complexity.

Secondly if you have highlighted some items in higher priced versions of the software then ask yourself why you didn’t pick that version of the software to do the feature test on. One reason could be that you have attached a value to that feature that does not match up to the increase in costs to your business. It is a common scenario where you can’t pick individual features that increment the cost by small amounts, the next tier up is often a package of features of which you need very few.

Finally if you had to write features under the table that are not available in any version then you are about to settle for a less than optimum solution. You could hope that they are on the roadmap for future releases but if it is popular enough request to go into the roadmap can you guess which version it is going to go in? Don’t be surprised if it is released to the version just above the version the majority of the requesters are using. That just makes business sense for the software developer.

Bespoke is so Often the Right Choice

We don’t have anything against off the shelf software and if you have done our test on the feature list and not had any of the points above then it is almost definitely going to be a great decision to go ahead with it.

However, if you have one the issues above then bespoke is always worth considering and more often than you think will be the right way to go. Full Metal Software doesn’t charge anything until you sign a development contract with us, so there is really nothing to lose by letting us prove it is the best option for you.

 

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