Wednesday, 27 February 2013

MVP - Minimum Viable Product strategy

Not all good ideas turn out into great products.  There are quite a few products that fail in the market due to a variety of reasons.  But does it stop us from investing in the Products? How do we find out if a Product is going to be a hit in the market?  And more importantly how do we find that out by investing the minimum amount possible.  Enter MVP - The Minimum Viable Product.

The concept of MVP is getting acceptance throughout in the area of Product Development.  It is a concept largely used by start ups.  And it will immensely help new product design and development in larger organizations.

What is an MVP?

Our objective with a Minimum Viable Product is to provide a mechanism for maximum learning about the target audience or the target market with the minimum effort.  Does it mean that we only ship 3 out of the 10 features that is required to hit the market at the earliest.  No.  The concept is beyond just the product features.  A Minimum Viable Product takes into account the Product idea, how it generates interest among the users, what features that the customers or the market really wants, demand for the product, etc.  It is a strategy that is used for learning about the customers early into the product life cycle, so that they can make the changes for the good.

Strategies for MVP

  • A survey for the likely features of the product
  • An email campaign to see the interest generated for the product
  • A website which shares videos, articles about the features and the benefits to the customers
  • Continuous Deployment (An Agile Practice, which can add more value to the business incrementally providing more learning)
  • A prototype / demo version of the product featuring the critical features
  • A closed beta for only very few customers

Why do we need MVP?

  • We do not have endless budget to build products
  • We want to cut the risk of a worst case scenario.  What if the product fails after 2 years of hard work?
  • We want to stay in the business yet not stop experimenting for potential opportunities

Benefits of MVP

  • Maximum learnings from minimum efforts
  • Early feedback about the product
  • Ability to realize the true value / demand of a product more quickly
  • More energy into the product development as we see some real demands

Demerits of MVP

  • Difficult to conceptualize the apt minimum.  There is no pre-defined rules for coming up with a minimum, it is pretty much judgemental.
  • Need to alter the product road map according to the feedback / learning which might be possible only with teams that are Agile.

The concept of MVP is ideal for start-ups and new R&D products/ideas, where your feedback cycle needs to be really fast.  It is better for a start-up to fail with a product idea in 3 months than 1 year.  The time and effort that is saved due to a MVP strategy is a big boon for start-ups and even larger organizations trying for new R&D product/ideas.

Thanks for the read.  Hope the post was informative.  Comments are welcome.

About the Author

Rajaraman Raghuraman has nearly 8 years of experience in the Information Technology industry focusing on Product Development, R&D, Test Data Management and Automation Testing.  He has architected a TDM product from scratch and currently leads the TDM Product Development team in Cognizant.  He is passionate about Agile Methodologies and is a huge fan of Agile Development and Agile Testing.  He blogs at Test Data Management Blog & Agile Blog.  Connect with him on Google+