With my last post, I started my new series of blogs on the  minimum viable product. We set the scene for what it is and why it is important. Today we focus on the basic groundwork you need to do before you embark on your MVP journey.

Firstly, your quest for the MVP starts with the why. You need to ask yourself, ‘ why is this product necessary?’. You start with this to clearly identify the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve. If you do not ask the ‘why’ questions sufficiently enough (Japanese lean manufacturing techniques call this the ‘5 why’ technique), you run the risk of solving for a downstream consequence instead of the actual problem. Therefore, your first step is to define the problem in a clear and specific manner. The more specific you are, the better your end product will be, although your focus area gets narrowed (more on this in a future blog post at a later date) that’s ok.

Secondly, it progresses to the basic definition of what the fully functional product must do. I won’t call it the maximum viable product because there is no maximum limit to what you keep adding to an  MVP. Before embarking on any development, you must (and I cannot stress this word enough) clearly define what the end product must do and how you will measure success or failure. These are the benchmarks against which you will measure everything that follows. As time passes and the project develops, how your product fulfils its ‘must-haves’ or ‘must-dos’ can change, but your basic definition of the problem or the solution cannot change. If they do, you’re developing an entirely different product, not this one.

Thirdly, regardless of what problem you’re solving or product/solution you’re developing, you have to comply with regulatory and legal requirements at every incremental iteration of the product, starting with iteration one. The distinction between regulatory and legal is that legal is the law of the land, and regulatory is associated with the industry sector. Therefore, you must comply with both.

I hope the scene is set for embarking on a journey that starts with the MVP. Let me summarise this with three points:

  1. You must clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve in a specific manner
  2. You must clearly define what the fully functional product must do and how you will measure success or failure
  3. Any MVP you must first and foremost comply with legal and regulatory requirement

In the next post, we focus on three common misconceptions around the MVP.

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