Wisdom Tip 131:How to zero in on your MVP Launch?

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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?
  4. Take into account criteria like functionality, reliability, usability and emotional design
  5. 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