Product vs Feature vs Capability

Product vs Feature vs Capability

Product features are a product’s attributes or traits that ensure end-users derive value from using the product and can differentiate it from other products in the market. For software products, features comprise an application’s capabilities, functionalities, and visual characteristics. A feature can also be defined as a service that fulfills stakeholder needs and should entail a benefit hypothesis as well as acceptance criteria. Product features are also measured and split to be delivered as part of a single Program Increment (PI) and Agile Release Train (ART). Besides a benefit hypothesis and acceptance criteria, features are closely associated with the Lean UX process model which entails defining a Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF). 

Capabilities share similarities with features but they’re at a higher level of abstraction and are used to support the development of large applications. A capability is a high-level solution that consists of multiple ARTs. Capabilities are split or sized into multiple features to be built into a single PI. Capability should help companies understand how they can build products associated with a unique value proposition. Capabilities are also defined as actions product stakeholders engage in order to obtain value from the product. Companies are in a position to clearly understand what differentiates their products and what needs to be built next to enhance the differentiation. When addressing capability, companies seek to focus on use cases they’d want to solve for every stakeholder. 

Why a Product should have Good Features

During software product development, features help a product gain a competitive advantage which sets it apart from market competitors. Features consist of functions, buttons, knobs, and transducers. You can use Productfolio, a product roadmap software to create a roadmap for your project, prioritize tasks, and share project requirements with your team to ensure that everyone on the same page.

In an agile product development hierarchy, product features should be broken into areas of focus and under each area, there needs to be a strategic thinking approach and tactical details on how each task will be completed. The strategic aspect deals with the products’ bigger picture which includes the theme known to be a major product strategic objective. In addition, an epic considered to be a subset of a theme is a specific focus area that helps to define the overall theme. 

The tactical component is a detailed roadmap of how to implement a product’s bigger picture. The tactical component consists of a feature, story, and task. A feature is an attribute of a product that strategically serves either as an epic or a theme. The story is a subset of a product feature and multiple stories could be required to successfully build a feature. On the other hand, a task is a job or approach put in place to complete a portion of a story or picture. 

Why Capabilities are Important

Capabilities are different from features and benefits as they’re the intermediary that connects a feature to the benefit. Capabilities help customers understand how a product’s features are beneficial. The best way to define a capability is to answer the question “what does this product allow me to do? Capabilities are different from benefits. Benefits are emotions and feelings while capabilities are tasks or actions. Understanding the difference is key because when users seek a solution to their problem, they tend to focus on a task or capability that they want. If product development narrows its attention to only features and benefits, customers may fail to identify the connection between a product and what they need to accomplish. 

What Product Features Benefits?

Benefits are features that make life more comfortable. Benefits are feelings and emotions customers feel as a result of a capability to do something they weren’t able to accomplish before thanks to having a functional feature. 

Prioritization of Features

During product development, a lot of requests, ideas, and suggested improvements are often mentioned but prioritization is the key to determining what feature should be built next. Knowing the right time to implement a feature ensures information is communicated to the engineering team at the appropriate time. Effective prioritization ensures features can be measured to ascertain how they’ll add value to end-users. 

With a lot of opinions and competing interests on which features should be included in a product, Product Managers have to make the best decisions to ensure no indecision is passed onto the engineering team. A successful feature definition process requires PMs to think about the end-user in terms of what challenges are they facing, what is preventing them from attaining their goals, and how their product is going to add value and help them to happily excel in their tasks. 

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