Using the Minimum to the Max

Having a vision is great, but seeing something in action can make all the difference. That’s the idea behind launching an initiative with a minimum viable product (MVP) approach. Much like a sports MVP is the player most valued for bringing about a win, in development an MVP can be the key factor that gets a product from idea to hot commodity.

Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” defines MVPs as “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” It can be as simple as a landing page or service that appears automated but is actually manual behind the scenes, as long as it’s something you can offer customers to see how they interact with it, according to the Agile Alliance. Initiative leaders can build on it from there.

But we said that seeing something in action makes it easier to understand than reading about it, so consider this: Army Materiel Command used an MVP — an app — that soldiers and their families could use to report housing problems. It took one day to develop and three months to deploy, but within the first six months it was available, customer satisfaction increased by 35%. Today, the app is available Army-wide.

Note that MVPs are not prototypes. Bloomberg Cities Network defines the latter as “an early sketch, model or mock-up of an idea that people can interact with and offer feedback on,” while the former is “the simplest possible version of a program or service you’re developing.” That can be confusing.

The Agile Alliance explains how to know whether you’re using MVPs correctly:

  • A team hypothesizes that customers have a need and that the product they’re working on satisfies it
  • The team then delivers something to those customers to find out if they’ll use the product
  • Using information from the experiment, the team continues, changes or cancels work on the product

This article appears in our Guide, “Unpacking Digital Transformation.” To read more about how agencies are getting the most out of their modernization and transformation efforts, download the guide.

Photo by Magda Ehlers at pexels.com

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