At the last sprint retrospective meeting some of my colleagues raised the following concern: “We are going live with a version that is far behind our vision to deliver good service for our customers.” We are now working on a big project and soon the first version will be released. However, as the project is indeed very big, we have decided to go live with a very limited feature set. Is this a problem?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product that does very few (innovative) things and aims to demonstrate them to the customers, while at the same time testing their reaction on it. The concept of MVP is extensively used by start-ups which want to test their idea very fast before spending time and money on it.
Every project has a vision. This could be just a simple statement like “We want to provide the best service for our customers” to a more detailed one like “We want to replace the billing system so that we are more flexible”. In any cases the vision lacks concreteness, i.e. we draw an end-point somewhere on the canvas, but we don’t know how to move from where we are now.
The real path to our goal is not a straight line. We will go through a lot of middle steps: challenges, issues, glories. In many cases we don’t even know the path – we discover it while we move forward. It is important to remember the final goal, though, so that you don’t become trapped on the detour. In practice you would start by delivering a MVP. You test it with your users and you collect some feedback. Based on that feedback you would update your product and release the next version.
This is an iterative process by which you make moves towards your goal. Often it could happen that while going through this iterations, you would change your end-goal and hence your initial vision. However, this process will make sure you are going into the right direction – improving your product in order to satisfy your users’ needs.
Delaying the launch can kill you
One of the reasons why many start-ups fail is they delay their launch. They are afraid of going live with an imperfect product and put a lot of effort into improving something they don’t even know needs improvements. The trap of perfectionism has taken many victims and you should learn how to avoid it. Being agile and working in (possibly) small iterations will help you launch quickly, collect feedback, and improve your product constantly.
Going live with a MVP is extremely important to any project. Delaying this milestone will cost you a lot of stress, money, and time spent into activities aiming constantly to improve it. In this situation my biggest concern is not to go live.