“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late” ~ Reid Hoffman
As a product manager, I am often asked how do I decide on a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to launch? Although, the specifics of the product depends on the situation and the overall context of the program, there are a few factors that are always taken into account before the launch. Below are the critical ones to consider that would aid in your MVP launch:
- It starts with meeting the objective of the MVP – which is to validate if a user/customer/client is willing to buy the product from you. In case of a startup, the objective of the MVP is to sell the Venture Capitalist on investing in your company.
- Secondly, even if you have the luxury of excess capital and time (a rare case) doesn’t always mean you spend it – the goal is to quickly test and validate the proof-of-concept. It is then followed by subsequent product releases with a published timeline i.e. Apple always has a yearly release for it’s iPhone, iPad and Mac product versions
- Use the impact x evidence weighted system to decide on the product features. Assign a score to each feature based on the two questions below and then prioritize. (Note: Always capture a log of the features that don’t meet the initial cut; so that it can be included in a future release)
- Impact: What will be the impact this feature will have on the product’s appeal?
- Evidence: What is the evidence or the data to prove the need for it?
- Take into account criteria like functionality, reliability, usability and emotional design
- Finally, use KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to measure and evaluate if the goals of your MVP were met. As the saying goes “You can’t manage…what you can’t measure”
On a related note, two books I highly recommend in order to gain a contrarian perspective:
a. The Click Moment: By Frans Johansson – This book is about two very simple but highly provocative ideas. The first is that success is random. The second is that there are a number of specific actions that can be taken to turn the randomness in our favor.
b. Small bets: By Peter Sims – The premise of the book is that instead of going for a big idea, there is wisdom in making a series of methodical little bets, and using the feedback of successes and failures to craft a significant win