Feature flags, otherwise known as feature toggles and switches, allow SaaS teams to selectively enable and disable user features and functionalities across their SaaS products. The best bit? This is achievable with a full deployment - which allows for faster and more flexible development and testing.
If you are currently working in the SaaS (Software as a Service) space or even have your own SaaS product, you will have likely heard of feature flags as a concept. While enabling you to quickly roll new features out to users, feature flagging tools also give SaaS teams the ability to roll these back at the flick of a switch.
Let's explore the core benefits of feature flagging tools.
There are many core benefits to using feature flags in SaaS applications:
SaaS developers can work on features in parallel with existing features with the support of feature flagging tools. As you can begin rolling features out to a small subset of users and then eventually release these to the entire user base, you can develop and test new features faster.
SaaS founders can enable and disable individual features or functionalities as required. This is ideal for A/B testing, where you will need to deploy different versions of the same feature to separate user groups.
SaaS teams can roll out brand-new features to users in a controlled and incremental way that's likely to help reduce the risk of causing disruptions to the overall user experience. If you can gradually release new features, this gives you more time to identify and address potential bugs.
Feature flags enable SaaS founders to have greater control over their product roadmap. With the ability to roll out new features gradually, these can get thoroughly tested before a wide release. There's nothing worse than rushing a buggy feature to market.
When it comes to streamlining development and deployment processes, feature flagging tools can prove immensely useful to bootstrapped SaaS founders. Here are just some of the ways in which bootstrapped SaaS founders can leverage feature flags:
Using a feature flagging solution, bootstrapped SaaS founders can easily prioritize development by focusing on the most requested features first. This can help to ensure that developer resources are used effectively and that the product is meeting the needs of the user base.
As we mentioned early, greater control over the product roadmap is a key benefit of using feature flags. For bootstrapped SaaS founders, feature flagging tools can enable you to pivot quickly while staying the course and executing for the long term.
Feature flags allow bootstrapped SaaS founders to gradually roll out new features to their users, rather than releasing everything in one hit. When it comes to mitigating risks and preventing disruptions to the entire user base, feature flags are invaluable.
Feature flags are not just useful for developers dealing with the intricate details of the product development process. SaaS sales teams can also benefit from feature flags.
Feature flags are an effective way to showcase your SaaS product's ability to meet different use cases, all without the need for a full deployment. For instance, if you want to set up a product demo, you can provide the prospective user with access to specific features that meet their core needs.
Here are a few best practices for using feature flags in SaaS applications:
Before deploying a feature flag, it's important to have clear goals in mind for what you want to achieve. This could be anything from testing a new feature to rolling out a feature to a small group of users in order to gather feedback.
Never deploy a feature flag for the sake of deploying a feature flag. Even though feature flags are incredibly useful, it's vital to use these sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. Overuse of feature flags can only lead to code complexity, along with confusion for users.
It's important to thoroughly test feature flags before releasing them to a wider group of users. This includes testing for bugs and performance issues, as well as gathering feedback from users.
Once a feature flag has been released, it's important to monitor the results closely. This includes monitoring user feedback, usage data and analytics, as well as analyzing any potential bugs that have been identified. Ultimately, if you have decided to deploy a feature flag, it makes sense to track its performance.
When using feature flags, you should consider the user experience and how the feature flag might impact it. This includes ensuring that users are not confused by the presence of feature flags and that the overall user experience is not negatively affected.
ConfigCat is well-equipped to meet your needs as a feature flagging tool. This developer-centric feature flag service is ideal for bootstrapped SaaS founders, as it provides all the essential tools needed to quickly and easily deploy feature flags.
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