Whether your business is producing a healthy profit or is striving to survive, a relevant question will always be: What should you do next with our software products? Should you do anything? Should you retire functionality or complete the application? Should you improve usability? Maybe add new functionality? Should you try to tackle the backlog? Or develop an entirely new product and extend our market? How many man-hours would it take?
Some of these questions can be answered easily. But others are hard to address or estimate. And it is even harder to predict the impact of a new product version on your users. Will they like it? Will they love the new awesome feature which took forever to develop?
You best know that software development can be a costly affair. Actually, any organization with a software development department knows that. It needs R&D managers, team leads, system architects, software developers, graphical designers, testers. And these are just the direct costs. Often you also need technical writers for documentation, support guys, and even translators. Not to mention product managers, marketing managers, and so on. Costs pile up.
To put this into perspective, "Are you to update that old and ugly sign-up form, or are you to create that new killer feature which will take 110% of your budget and resources?"
Start by collecting data about your application users and their usage patterns which to help you answer these questions. You can do that by simply adding an analytics service to your mobile, web or desktop application and start discovering your users. They will show you how they engage with your application, what features they use (or don't use), and how long it takes to complete a task within your app. And you can do that anonymously and right away. You can even receive crash and error reports before your users tell you. How cool is that?
With application analytics you will know whether that new feature you added in the last version was indeed well-received, and that you shouldn't be spending much time on the About My App section, which nobody cares about.
Wondering where to start? Telerik has the answer. Try one of our newest products - Telerik Analytics (formerly EQATEC Application Analytics). It will help you gather the facts, analyze the data, and concentrate your development efforts on what your users need the most. And it is free to try. With Telerik Analytics you will have a much better understanding of your software products, your market, and your customers.
With this information many hard decisions will be easier to make, and you'll be able to make better judgments on a daily basis. When used properly, data can lead to optimizations which may have a substantial positive impact on your business over time (including decreased development costs). Google, Adobe and Microsoft have been doing this for years. Why shouldn't you?
Head out to www.telerik.com/analytics and create an account. Trying the service is completely free - you can use it with one application of your choice, forever. Right now we provide support for ASP.NET Ajax, WPF, Windows Forms, Silverlight, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and many other platforms. Check it out!
Vassil Petev is a Product Manager at Telerik. Loves gadgets, sailing, skiing and DJing.