What is MVP and MMP?
Welcome to part 55 of our scrum master interview questions series where John McFadyen answers common questions asked of scrum masters in interviews and client engagements.
They are acronyms used in the agile industry and are pretty useful shorthand to describe important elements of project management or product development.
- MVP – Minimum Viable Product
- MMP – Minimum Marketable Product
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A Minimum Viable Product or MVP is the minimum standard the product must achieve in order to be viable or desirable to a customer. In the context of marketing and revenue generation, it is the minimum number of features necessary for a customer to purchase the product.
In the context of product development, a minimum viable product also refers to the minimum amount of features or functionality needed in order for the product to be used, reviewed, and enable the team to start learning about the customer and the markets they serve.
The MVP is useful when you have a team of people that have a lot of assumptions about what a customer or end-user may want or need. You could spend 2 years developing the product and release it will all the bells and whistles only to find that people don’t want to buy the product.
That isn’t a great outcome.
So, what product development teams do is provide a customer with a valuable, basic version of the product and then test assumptions as they move along. They may track how users are using the product and lean into that data to inform what they should build next, or they may interview customers and use their feedback and reviews to inform what should be built next.
Experimentation and Learning
Similar to validating assumptions, an MVP allows a product development team to experiment with different ideas and validate what customers value through reviews, focus groups, and feedback they receive from existing consumers.
The iPhone is a great example of this. People didn’t know that mobile apps would explode in the way that they did, nor did they know whether people would prefer using their finger instead of a stylus or keyboard like the BlackBerry had.
As soon as the iPhone went out into the world, the team were able to innovate rapidly and develop features, functionality, and an app ecosystem that blew customers away. Access to a product and ecosystem they never even knew they needed until it was created for them.
So, a minimum viable product is not the cheapest version of a product that you can produce, it is the minimum set of features or functionality that will satisfy a customer until such time as they discover new requirements and desires based on what they are now able to do with the product.
Clarify what is meant by MVP
Now this might seem odd, but when people use the term MVP, please ask them what they mean by that term. Don’t assume that people are referring to MVP in the context of how you understand it, because 9 out of 10 times they don’t.
The term MVP has been thrown around the project management, product development, product management, and marketing world for so long that it takes on a life of its own depending on the environment you are working in.
Some people think it means the cheapest version of a product, others assume it means that this is a limited edition that will never evolve. It honestly can mean absolutely anything to the people who are using it and for that reason, I recommend you ask people to clarify what they mean.
Agile, and scrum, are about transparency.
It isn’t just about making the work visible, it is about being clear about what we mean when we say certain things. We want the whole team to be clear about what is meant when we say something like MVP, because it allows us to move forward based on a shared understanding.
Minimum Marketable Product
This is very similar to MVP but focuses on the minimum set of features or functionality that is needed for the team to market the product effectively.
If we use the iPhone again, a minimum marketable product may mean that you must, at the very least, include the same features and functionality as your competitors. If you can’t make a call with the phone but it’s got great apps, it doesn’t help. People won’t buy it.
It could have amazing design and facilitate the best conversations available, but if it doesn’t store contact details or allow you to access the internet, it would be perceived to be less valuable than competitor products and people simply wouldn’t invest in your phone.
So, we are talking about competitive parity at worst, and minimum competitive advantage at best.
This isn’t necessarily about learning for the product development team, although they might learn a great deal through the widespread adoption of the product, it is about the firm’s ability to effectively market and sell the product.
A minimum viable product may only be released to select focus groups around the world. It may only be released to select customers who are known to be mavens and brand ambassadors, but it may not be released wider than that.
An MMP is different in the sense that the intention is to release to new and old customers. It is about selling the product, at scale, with the purpose of market penetration and customer acquisition.
That would probably be the single biggest difference between the two.
Why it is released and how it is released.
So, those are the two acronyms most used in the product development world and now you know how to use them correctly.
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