My favorite web development company, 37 Signals, recently added a post by one of their team members, Jason. He discussed some of the decisions and process that went into a recent functionality addition to their product Highrise. They set out to provide import functionality that their customers were asking for, but in their pursuit of a solution they got off track due to thinking too large.

Sometimes development and design teams can think too small, and not see the forest through the trees, but at other times, and I see this a lot in the IT industry, development teams think way too big. They see a problem and instead of focusing on the important issue, they attempt to provide functionality just in case they might need it some time down the road. But just in case development is very costly, and from my experience, most times that “case” never actually occurs.

The point of Jason’s post is that in this instance, not only did they waste time, but they also didn’t even provide the needed functionality, because they lost focus on the particular problem that really needed the must urgent solution.

In Jason’s words:

…don’t lump a bunch of related small problems together—it just makes one big problem. One big problem requires one big solution, and big solutions take a long time (and often don’t go right). You’re better off chopping big lumps of problems into smaller chunks until you’re able to knock them off one at a time.

Read the entire post, “Design Decisions: Highrise import“.