Start-Ups: How to Release When Your Sales Increase

Tolga Kilicli

Principal Product Manager at Microsoft



Moving forward as a small start-up into a larger one, the release cycle has to advance with demands that include better predictability on schedules, delivery, and other time-sensitive dealings.

Actions taken

  • Organize what it is that you need to look at by placing all the features on one side and all of the possible outcomes on the other. Discover the lines that connect those two things together.
  • Create routine automated testing to eliminate bugs and faulty shipping methods.
  • "Point B could be called as the North Star. In that case, travel from point A to point B should be in small increments without shipping a broken window. Customer should always see and feel the value adds, growing. This will help customers to connect with the product through value."
  • This was an example for the bullet point above. In one project I worked on, the pain/issue we wanted to solve was delivering a message to a large audience in an interactive way. we started doing this with audio, then added video. This way we were able to validate technology (via audio) and then improved experience (via video). Another pivot is to have the customer angle to this. First version that you want to have feedback on may not be going to all of your users, but to a limited set.
  • Slow down to speed up: allot more time for engineering groundwork, foundations, and principles because these methodologies are generally not well aligned with the principles held by HR.
  • "Predictability needs to be positioned before everything. Every quarter, you are expected to release something that adds value to the business and this is an opportunity to learn and improve on on a fairly regular basis.. To have engineering predictability you need to have an engineering foundation. To ensure this, product management has to connect with engineering way before the release process starts. In other words, time must be spent on explaining the customer need (problem to solve), business value to the company (product/feature) and implementation (engineering roadmap)."

Lessons learned

  • Plotting a chart from one side to the other in terms of features and possible outcomes can help you organize your absolute minimums for each release and where you can line up these scenarios on certain dates.
  • Preventative measures such as routine automated testing and keeping customer satisfaction a high priority can eliminate problems in the release cycle of a product.
  • Aligning engineering methodologies with those of HR will increase the success of deliveries and releases.
  • Positioning predictability at the top of responsibilities is needed to sustain the business by releasing products that add value.
  • Internal communication between teams is crucial to building the foundation that supports predictability.

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Tolga Kilicli

Principal Product Manager at Microsoft

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementSprint CadencePerformance MetricsLeadership Training

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