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MVP is Not Just for Startups



One of the key goals for startups is to release their products quickly, which has lead to a minimum viable product (MVP) approach.  Speed to market is so important that it's better to release a product before all the desired features are present so you can capture market share and use customer feedback to help you prioritize the introduction of new features.

The challenge of the MVP approach is to determine what "viable" means.  If you launch without sufficient features, your product may fail to attract any customers, or disappoint your first customers. But if you wait, competitors are likely to step in with their own offerings.

The MVP concept is not only applicable to startups and commercial companies that are selling products, but also to internal software projects for companies, government agencies, and non-profits.  Too often I have seen scope creep add to the feature list of a software product and delay launch dates for weeks or months.

Using MVP principles, your project team can stay on schedule to ship a product by postponing features to after launch as long as they are not critical.  This approach is consistent with Agile software development methodology which calls for a backlog of features and tasks, and a grooming process that refines the backlog for each iteration (sprint) that is conducted.

Shipping a product quickly has many benefits.  It starts the user feedback process in a more powerful way than during development or testing.  It conserves the energy of executive sponsors, and allows you to create wins that boost confidence in the development team.

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