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In software, nothing comes for free

Often in software you’ll hear that you get something for free, like “the framework just gives us this for free,” or “if we use X service provider, we get Y for free,” or your developers will tell you “we were building this bit anyway so we get this extra piece for free.”

Nothing is free in software.

It’s not free because you’re sitting there talking about it and you’re debating if you should do it. That’s costing you time for starters. It’s not free in the doing of it, or the verifying it was done right, that it works, that all edge cases are workable. QA is never free.

“You have to tell your customers, otherwise it’s definitely pointless. Communication is never free”

It’s not free in the communication of doing it. If you add a feature, you have to tell your team, to tell customer support, to then tell your customers. You have to tell your customers, otherwise it’s definitely pointless. Communication is never free.

It’s not free to carry it forward. Once it’s there you’ll have to support queries from customers, you’ll have docs, how-tos, videos, all needing to be updated.

It’s not free to undo. Maintenance is never free.

Think of these features like house pets. Craigslist is full of free pets, yet you’re not stocking up your house for a very simple reason – there’s a big difference between the retail price and cost of ownership.

This excerpt was first published in “Intercom on Product Management”. Head this way to read more.

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