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Make your products consumable

Have you ever bought a really well-wrapped product? Carl recently bought a memory chip for his laptop. It was very securely wrapped. So much so that he had to struggle to open the outer hard-plastic container; it seemed to defy even the sharpest of scissors. He finally had to use a knife to cut through the wrapping, but he was worried about damaging the chip inside. When he finally got the item out, he sighed with relief.

This is an example of consumability in practice.

What does this have to do with a software product?


As the client stakeholder, Carl’s goal was to use his new memory chip. But first, he needed to complete a variety of tasks that had nothing to do with his goal. He had to unwrap it, and that, as you saw, was no easy feat. Once he finally got that done, he still had to install it in his laptop, and then verify that it worked correctly. All before getting to the point of satisfying his goal: to use the new memory chip.

We call these extraneous tasks meta-tasks. Yes, they are often necessary. But they are often unnecessarily difficult, time-consuming, tedious, and intrusive. People who use software products encounter these meta-tasks all the time: in activities such as purchasing, installation, deployment, and integration to operations, problem management, and upgrading.

Consumability is all about minimizing your stakeholders’ barrier to goal attainment.

We cover this in depth in Chapter 4, Making Products Consumable.

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