Day 136: So much for that!

A transition goes awry

So, we have a feature which allows users to upload data into the system. Initially it was designed to allow a format A. After some time in the wild, we realised a majority of users (say, 70%) had a workflow that suited format B.

The funny thing is, we had a bug that actually allowed format B in most situations (except for some errors). People started using it, so we wanted to officially switch to format B, but that would take time. We always asked new joiners to continue using format A to avoid those situations where errors would occur – and workflows developed around this.

The time came when the switch could finally be prioritised and, in an effort to transition users, I suggested to allow both formats for a period of time. The team agreed, so we worked on it. Testing went well and we released.

A day after the release, users discovered a bug that caused errors in using format A in some circumstances.

We weren’t able to hotfix it fast since the bug was quite mysterious. This delay was enough to galvanise the remaining users on format A to adjust their workflows. Good in a sense, since that was the eventual plan. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the devs though, in essence their work to allow both formats was jettisoned within a day of the release.

Some teams reading this might be appalled, but we learn. Test larger samples (we only did a large sample for format B); especially since the users will use larger samples, etc.

One nagging thought for me though – should we have just put our foot down from the beginning? Tell the 30% that we were going to switch with a cut-off date, deal with the discomfort and possibly unhappiness?

Maybe in this situation that could have worked, since it’s an internal tool, and I guess there was enough a majority to justify the choice. From a user perspective though, we thought it would have been nicer to transition them.

What would you have done? 


I jumped from Product Marketing to Product Management at Zalora recently. These posts represent a journal of my learnings and reflections – you can keep track of my journey by joining the mailing list here.

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