The Pareto principle when applied to a technology product suggests that 80% of value comes from 20% of the features. What are the vital few features that your customers value the most?  How can you remove and reimagine the bloat?  How can you make the product exciting and appealing for new customers?

Pruning as a mindset

As consultants we are exposed to many different technology product companies.  Where we find a cultural aversion to pruning, these barriers are common:

Customer impact

What about the customers who use the feature? How would removal of the feature impact them? Could the deprecation of a feature lead to complaints or churn?

Team workload and prioritization

What effort would be required and how can this be argued as a priority?

Competitor gaps

How would we compare to our competitors?

We also encounter:

One-size-fits all

A preference to offer a single, standardized offering.


Team members become over-familiar and blind to the product shortcomings.

Fear of breaking something

The current system ‘works’ and changing it can introduce errors.

And in cases where the product has grown via technology acquisition, we often find that multiple products continue to co-exist. 

Product and technology leaders should appreciate that pruning requires a mindset change.  It is important to explain to people what the vision of the company is and how the evolution of the product will enable this.

An independent outside-in review can reveal how a system may have become cluttered, dated, and difficult to use. Particularly if done as a structured competitive comparison.

Mobile user experience

Most teams will appreciate the need for a mobile user experience to provide a subset of features.  With less screen real-estate and an assumption that users want simple interactions and immediate fulfilment there can be many product team breakthroughs.

Initially you can consider all the features that won’t fit in the mobile app as continuing to live on in a ‘full featured’ product version.

Subsequently you can look at what ‘jobs to be done’ require a visit to the ‘full featured’ product interface.

Configured features

Most teams will appreciate the benefits of a clean and simpler starting point for new customers.  With ‘opt in’ approach to some of the more complex features.

New customers want a ‘quick start’ and a clear path to value.  Self-drive trials will have many ‘drop-offs’ if it gets too hard.   

The general idea is that the configuration for new customers provides a feature framework that we can extend to all customers.

Customer data and cohorts

In this simple example a five-point scale is used, with 0 indicating no usage or value through to 4 indicating universal usage and value.

Our starting point is based on general usage data:

The first step is to assess current customer usage and value of legacy features by separation into segments and cohorts.

 Applying some of the ideas we create a focused mobile experience and simplify the experience for new customers by configuring as optional some of the less popular features.

In this example we can see that Features 1-3 are the main used and valued features, for the largest proportion of customers.  The simpler offering and mobile UX has improved usage in new customers in our A and B segments.

Feature 4 is useful to customers in segment C.  Although this is only a small segment, we can leave it for now.  We have made this feature opt-in for new customers in segment A and B, so this doesn’t detract from their experience.

By making Feature 5 optional and deprecated for new customers it is on its way out.

Let’s extend the example to add a new Feature 6.  Optional and targeted for segment A, replacing Feature 5

In this illustration the improvements have helped achieved an engaged set of existing and new customers in our key segments.

In conclusion:

  • We have applied an analytical approach
  • Disruption to existing customers has been minimized
  • An investment in targeted mobile UX opened the team’s thinking on how to configure the product for value
  • A streamlined approach to new customers in our targeted segments drove simplifications
  • The approach is repeatable, and we are ready for further pruning

Contact us now, to discuss your project requirements



The Thought Source team have produced a video series covering the "behind the scenes" of performing technical due diligence for M&A projects.