Why MVP Is the Best Way to Develop Products by former CVS PM

Building a product is a very interesting, but dense task. The role of the Product Manager in leading the team towards successful development, involves high risk and accountability. A PM always seeks out the best practices for developing a product. 

In this talk, former CVS PM, Aditya Raju, explains why building an MVP is the best way to develop products, along with the complete process of building an MVP, best practices, and industry examples.

From CVS Health to Blue Cross: Aditya Raju

Aditya Raju is currently working as a Senior Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shields at Massachusetts. Being a dynamic individual, Aditya Raju has found his passion in establishing lasting experiences with innovative products, and creating a difference as a Product Manager.

What is MVP?

MVP definition Eric Ries

Examples of MVP

Aditya uses the example of ‘Build Me a Car.’ When a customer asks, “Build me a car”, product people want to jump right into the task. But it is often a fallacious mistake, as it leads to a large expense of money, time and effort.

Building a car from scratch is certainly very cumbersome.

The product that comes out at the end is useful, but some consumers might not feel like their expectations have been met, owing to various results. For some, the body might be too bulky, or the entire cost of running a car might be higher than they anticipated. Moreover, customer waiting time is large as there’s nothing they can do until the car is finally built (assuming that there are no other car companies).

Hence, the product is not Minimum Viable.

Ask the questions – what’s the problem you need to solve?

Now to deal with the above situation, indulge in asking more questions to work out the essence of your customers’ requirements.

The customer who asked for a car, might just have just wanted a way to travel from Point A to Point B. So, talk to the customer and ask the right questions. This expands the area of possibilities, which can be studied to find the minimum viable product. In this use case, one can simply build the least effort skateboard to travel from A to B. Once the customer comes up with the feedback, you can improvise and continue to grow. 

This way, the transition from skateboarding, to a scooter, to a bicycle, to a motor bike and finally a car forms a complete circle.

At every stage of development, there is a usable product. The product build-to-market is also lesser and hence the whole system is agile and sustainable. Here, feedback from the customer is absolutely key to development.

Toy car

The process of creating an MVP

  1. Find the problem worth solving
  2. Determine the smallest MVP
  3. Storyboard the user journey
  4. Ruthless prioritization of features.
  5. Make sure that the value of the MVP aligns with the product
  6. Build the solution
  7. Test with the early adopters
  8. Determine further iterations or the next steps of the products.

Goals of MVP

  1. Serve at least one audience
  2. Address at least one key problem
  3. Have a well designed user experience
  4. Be easy and launch quickly

If your MVP is not providing these features, then it is not minimal, nor viable, and then is therefore not valuable.

The cupcake method

Imagine you have your child’s birthday and you invite other kids over for a party. Instead of baking 200 small cupcakes to satiate the kids, it makes more sense to bring a 10kg cake and distribute it accordingly.

This is the thought process applied to building an MVP.

Famous examples of MVPs

  1. Dropbox
  2. Air Bed and Breakfast
  3. Zappos
  4. Foursquare
  5. Spotify
  6. Pebble: E paper watch for iPhone and Android

Aditya’s Words of Wisdom

  1. Avoid big bang delivery
  2. Identify your earliest testable products
  3. MVPs are about learning from users, minimizing risk and maximizing viability
  4. MVP is a product – it’s something the consumer can use and deliver real value
  5. Consider options
  6. Remember – it’s okay to fail.
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