What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product is a collection of product features and capabilities that are required (at a minimum) to deliver a solution the market is willing to pay for. The easier it is to quantify the value, the more likely the solution will succeed.

An outcome-based minimum viable product has two components. First, there’s the business context that answers all the WHO, WHAT & WHY questions. Then there’s the functional context that explains the product features and HOW they support the business objectives.

Follow these 7 steps to define your minimum viable product, complete with both components. The Playbook:

How To Create Your Minimum Viable Product in 7 Steps

  1. Start with a customer goal that can be quantified. For example, reduce the time and effort it takes to find resumes of qualified candidates. We’ll assume you’ve already identified WHY this goal is important to other customer goals that are more strategic.
  2. Identify the top 3-5 speed bumps that if eliminated, would make a significant impact on the goal. For example, unqualified candidates know how to game the system with keywords to get on the shortlist.
  3. For each obstacle, identify why it occurs. Then describe how to fix it procedurally. For example, as recruiters, we only look for keywords in the career overview sections. Ideally, they’d be easy to find throughout the resume.
  4. Prioritize the obstacles from highest to lowest based on the impact they have on the goal of “reducing time and effort to find resumes of qualified candidates.”
  5. Determine which of those obstacles you’d have to eliminate in order for the solution to have significant value to your target customers. THIS IS YOUR MVP (features forthcoming)! In other words, if the solution doesn’t eliminate obstacles a, b and c collectively, it has no tangible value to customers.
  6. Add the desired features that eliminate each obstacle so you close the loop on the WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW components of the solution.
  7. Determine the time/work effort to deliver those features based on your resources. If you have to cut scope, first look for less eloquent features that eliminate the obstacles without negatively impacting the goal. That way you can cut feature scope without cutting value scope!

When defining your minimum viable product, always start with a quantifiable customer outcome. It forces you into a context-rich approach for identifying and solving business problems that make your customers quantifiably better at something that’s critical to their success.

Become a Solutions Product Management Specialist for B2B!

Learn specialized “B2B solutions” skills for product management and product marketing (including outcome-based MVPs). $99 for a 1-month subscription including Portfolio Product Management Certification.

Related Articles