All product managers, developers, and UX / UI people understand the value in working on MVPs (Minimum Viable Product). It is a great way to quickly assess scope, iterate or enhance on product features, and remove inefficiencies within a given time. However, that is based on the premise that the product or website is successful. Successful not only in terms of ease of use for the user, but also that there are good processes in place within the company. Projects are managed in an organized manner, communication is clear between multiple teams, and the product vision makes sense to everyone involved.
Unfortunately, not all products would benefit from MVPs. MVPs could potentially amplify problems with an already flawed product. How do you know your product is flawed? Here are some common symptoms:
Business deadlines are more of a priority than solving a pain point for the user. Often this is a product of short-term financial gains vs. long-term investments which leads my next point.
“Feature Frenzy” has set in. The team is continually overwhelmed with adding functionality or enhancements without any thought to usability or the big picture.
Communication or visibility into schedules and objectives have broken down. In the rush to get things done, overlaps and confusion have become commonplace.
Because people are rushing to meet client deadlines, code has not been properly written which leads to the next point.
Innovation and usability is constrained. Poorly written or old code takes time to clean-up, and deadline pressures often soak up the time needed to introduce better functionality.
MVPs intended to solve one issue opens up another set of issues and problems -prompting a never ending cycle.
Business objectives have been in flux and have constantly changed without any clear direction.
The product has become overly complicated, so much that users have needed to be taught how to use it.
If you see these symptoms with each sprint, it may be time to tactfully propose a “start from scratch” project. Continuous short-term fixes can have long lasting effects – on both resources and expenses, and can feel like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting the same results.
The suggestion to scratch the project can be a tough pill to swallow though, and it can be challenging to propose sweeping changes. One way to ease concerns is to propose a parallel project in which you still keep true to the immediate goals while you simultaneously work on a separate project. You keep all involved and ask for feedback. Inquire about business objectives and see if there will be any changes or if they will remain the same. Your proactive effort will not only help the company, but will also allow people to start thinking in two to three steps ahead and consider the long term more thoroughly.
Written by Daniel Cho