What do your customers actually use?

My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”
Francine Jay.

A few questions for all the vendors out there.

  1. Do you know which applications within your suite that your customers actually use?
  2. Do you know which features of these applications they use?
  3. Do you know which features none of your customers use?
  4. Can you think of any reasons why this information could be valuable?

One of the major challenges for an OSS vendor is to create desirable new products and features that have to then be managed for the complete life-cycle from conceptualisation through to support/maintenance and then even obsolescence.

The more products and features you have, the more code you must develop and maintain. This earlier post discusses some of the challenges relating to managing a large and varied code base.

But using the 80/20 rule, it’s likely that roughly 20% of your applications / features are delivering 80% of value to customers (and revenues to you). Of the remaining 80%, it’s likely that some of those applications / features actually cost you more to maintain than they bring in.

So to go back to the first three questions, do you have a mechanism for measuring which parts of your code base are actually being used?

Sometimes vendors won’t allow you to access their environments to conduct this analysis, which presents a challenge. That restricts you from collecting highly granular data.

However, there is another technique that is somewhat anecdotal, but could prove valuable.

Does it make sense that if you’re getting support calls, tickets, etc on certain products or features, then customers are using them? Aside from buggy products, it would also make sense that the more support requests, the more heavily used the products are right?

Do you make use of these types of stats?

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