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What does your MVP say about you?

The office I'm in at the moment is undergoing extensive renovations, so when I walked past this the other day it got me thinking...

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On paper its the perfect example of an MVP (or Minimal Viable Product).  It fulfils the requirements associated with a fully operational integrated fire alarm (in so far as it notifies others of an emergency!) but it does so at a lower cost and with a quicker time to delivery than a larger scale system.

The potential problem is with the kind of message it portrays to the end customer.   When our new fire alarm appeared, comments such as "Is this for real?" and  "It's all a bit budget, isn't it?" could be heard around the office. If you walked into your office to find this solution acting as your fire alarm system then you'd probably skip over the fact it does the job and question if those responsible had your best interests at heart.

When planning the content of a software project's MVP, we naturally focus on the features we are delivering. We think about what we are building and also consider the User Experience to identify how it will be used by the customer. Sometimes however this thinking comes at the expense of our brand, and in the excitement of getting something to market quickly we occasionally lose track of the question "What will the customer think of us if we release this solution?"

This is why collaboration with other teams is so important at all phases of the project.

For example bringing marketing guys into a project breakdown sessions helps address this exact problem early on. It may not result in a change to the features or the actual solution released to the customer - but it could prove invaluable in getting the most customer acceptance out of the MVP.

So in short, the thing that I realised during the office refurb is this:

If you do go with an MVP solution that may be perceived as ' a bit budget' by the customers then this is OK. Time,cost or other pressures may mean that this is absolutely the right approach... however communication with your customers is the key.

If the note in the photo also mentioned that a fully integrated fire alarm system would be installed within a few days, then it would give more re-assurance and would have been accepted more favourably. The message that would give is that "We're giving you something that does the job immediately, but don't worry we will be following it up with something better very soon" which after all is pretty much what an MVP is...

Posted in Agile, Customer Satisfaction, Project Delivery.

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