Over recent years, advancements in the field of software development have made it possible to perform bug fixes and UI changes at a rapid pace. As a result, users demand constant app updates and expect issues to be fixed as soon as they arise.
The high speed of software development places increasing pressure on product managers and developers. Once codes are released publicly, any feature can be accessed by users. For product managers looking to take back control, feature flags can change the process of code deployment.
What are feature flags?
Feature flags, also called feature toggles, are software development tools used to safely activate or deactivate features in the experimentation, release, testing, and operation of code deployment.
At the most basic level, feature flags are sections of code that control a specific software feature. When product managers want to add new functionality, the feature flag can be turned on or off to avoid impacting UI until testing is complete.
Control customer rollout
Feature flags allow product managers to maintain the integrity of code deployment, and different features can be utilized to turn toggles on and off when needed. Since new versions of software are developed, tested, and released to users on a consistent basis, utilizing feature flags enables product managers to incorporate new code without affecting the overall release. As a result, product managers can control customer rollout by activating specific features as necessary.
When product managers can control customer exposure to a new release, the pressure and anxiety associated with maintaining a consistent release schedule is eliminated. The ability to activate or deactivate specific features also increases application stability and helps product managers avoid resorting to hotfixes.
Incorporating feature flags into a new release allows teams to who gets to access new features, what new features can be accessed, and when new features are released. In turn, new releases can easily be scaled and released by demographic or location.
Save time and energy
In most cases, releasing a new feature means that product managers have to communicate with multiple teams to ensure that the release goes smoothly. Product managers typically have to coordinate the release with the marketing team, the sales team, and the engineering team.
With feature flags, product managers can save time and energy by activating features for some or all of their customers on their own. Since product managers can access the user interface, they don’t have to wait for the engineering team to finish preparing for the release.
Collect data-driven feedback
Product managers are also responsible for collecting feedback. They need to be able to determine how each feature performs for customers and whether the feature is working for customers in the way it was intended to. Product managers also need to be able to determine whether a specific feature is generating more revenue for the company.
Feature flags enable product managers to collect data-driven customer feedback. Since product managers can release one set of features to a specific demographic and a different set of features to another, they can easily capture key metrics.
Product managers also have the option of gradually releasing features to users over time, and real-time analytics can measure the overall impact of new features. All in all, the ability to create a controlled experiment allows product managers to determine the success of a specific set of features.
With the increasing pace of software development, product managers are put under high pressure to release bug fixes and updates as soon as possible. Ultimately, incorporating feature flags into software development can help product managers take back control over the code deployment process.