about a 1 minute read

Outcomes Before Features

Often, digital projects start with features. But features are meant to serve a purpose; to drive an outcome. What we need to be doing is defining the outcomes that matter to the organization first – a critical step often missed in web and application projects.


Often, planning for digital projects revolves around features. Features like:

  1. API integration with our CRM
  2. Support for content workflow with multiple authors
  3. Etc.

Features are important to digital project success – don’t get me wrong – but whenever we work with clients, we start with outcomes, then go to features. So, what do we want this project to ultimately accomplish? What are the outcomes that matter to the organization? Perhaps outcomes like:

  1. Growing our donor contact list by 50% month over month
  2. Increasing our content output to 3 articles per month
  3. Removing manual data migration from the website to the CRM
  4. Etc.

Outcomes Help Avoid Digital Project Risk

By starting with the outcomes that will impact the organization, we have a better lens to evaluate if a feature is warranted or not – and by proxy, we avoid needlessly expensive or complex features that don’t actually help deliver on the outcomes the organization needs, and double down on impactful work.

Here are some real-life examples of outcomes that matter to these respective organizations:

  1. The Recovery College platform we delivered for the Canadian Mental Health Association has grown program registrants to an average of 250 per month
  2. The mobile app we built for Firesmart Canada has turned a manual process digital, and grown the amount of properties assessed to 1 every other day
  3. The website we built for Dogwood, a non-profit in BC,  drove their donations up 28% while campaign and communication spending dropped 6% year over year.

It’s something all of us need to remind ourselves of – start with outcomes, then figure out what features we need to meet them.

So on your next project, try starting there!