Little House Consultancy

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We help ambitious companies with the strategy and management of their software, organisational and development projects.

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11) Minimum Viable Business for growing Customer numbers

As this is the last minimum I want to reiterate that this list isn’t a waterfall plan. However, for any business this is the final minimum they hope to end up with!

At this stage I tend to promote an emphasis on Customer self service (via help videos, scaffolding etc) as you invariably want to scale quickly without the need for lots of bodies to answer the phone. However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that inevitably you’ll need a support desk (or account manager’s or customer success… you get the idea!). What tools have you got to help when things go wrong. Obviously, you want to automate as much as possible, but the point of a minimum is that manual systems will suffice until they don’t – the key is being ready and upgrading your manual processes before they become a problem. Now this is getting in to managing teams of people, but the key insight is to ensure you have evidence to show that time is being “wasted” doing a job manually that could be automated. A simple ROI on the time to build the tools can give you the pay back period.

10) Minimum Viable System for marketing to first segment

A fantastic core loop is essential but it is not sufficient to make a successful product. The features that are used in a product’s marketing strategy to attract people tend to be delighters and USPs. These are not the same thing as the core loop! I’m starting to step on the toes of those with a lot more marketing experience, but with my technical hat on I want to make an important point. There needs to be some “sparkly” bells and whistles that the marketing team can shout about and that differentiate you from your competitors, BUT they are not endless ! Pick one or two and TEST to see if the market wants them. Don’t just eat up all your dev resource building yet another “nice” feature because you think more is better – it isn’t! Build what works and that means what works for marketing as much as for the user.

9) Minimum Viable System for initial marketing - get 50 beta testers!

Now the product has a backbone there needs to be a consideration for the business processes! Start to look at automating the onboarding, but with a focus on the experience these new customers have. (It’s worthwhile looking at page 13 of AJK’s roadmap http://getting2alpha.com/downloads/Getting2Alpha_Breakthrough_3-Game-Thinking-Blueprint.pdf - we are between stages 2 and 3). Your aim is to remove the barriers to USING product. Your about to start getting leads and the last thing you need is a leaky bucket once you’ve got them through the funnel.

One of the common areas that can be an obstacle is data import. If your product needs a backlog of data to be present before the user can start to gain a benefit you have a BIG on boarding problem. Find out how you can reduce this need. Look for alternative user journeys to ease the pain during the initial data loading phase. Can you scrape other sources to help prefill/default lengthy data fields? You want to try almost anything to avoid a traditional data import – invariably the source data will be inconsistent and this will lead to crap data in your pristine new system which will only look bad on you! Remember - Rubbish In, Rubbish Out and you’re spending a load of marketing money telling them their old system is rubbish!

8) Minimum Viable System for 10 alpha customers

This is where the practicalities of being a new user becomes key. You are starting to think about expanding the user base and the problems that this causes. I rarely find people properly define the requirements for this stage of the business and fall foul because of it. The first few users should become your evangelists, but if they have had an awful time getting started it isn’t going to happen. Using the phrase “it is a beta” only excuses so much and rarely the important first moments of the “on boarding” experience.


As a guide, it should appear to the customer that they fill-in an online form, an account is created and they can use the system. How will the new user get started? Should there be basic help available? How do they contact you for hand holding? Now step back and try to impartially answer: How well does the new user get to grips with the functionality?
Aim: To test product feature set and intuitiveness of product. If they can’t get started then it will be difficult to get the answer!
 

7) Minimum Viable Product for your “Super Fan’s” Company to use

This is the logical step after you’ve gained the commitment (and the enthusiasm) from your superfan to use your product. Focus on what needs to be added so that more than one user from the company can perform the task. It’s likely to be login (and the associated authentication, authorisation issues), filtering data by user, basically multi-user functionality. There is still very unlikely to be the “need” for reporting and advanced dashboards. You can create the users manually in the database if needs be…no need to worry about “admin” or “settings” pages yet!
 

This definition is the minimum that I default to when someone says “MVP” without any further clarification. It has a real focus on the bare bones of what is needed to solve the customer’s pain point.

From this point on, the driver for expanding the functionality should be taking feedback from the users as a primary influence. You still need to stick to the vision of the product, but the minor alterations in direction are best influenced by those people that actually perform the job. It is at this point that the Product Manager / Owner role becomes so key… but that’s for another post!

Company Number: 09630799 | Contact: richard@tybach.co.uk