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In recent times, Agile industries have been blooming as it provides solutions to various problems faced by companies with traditional software methodologies. With the advent of Agile Methodology, many terms have confused individuals such as Minimum Viable Product, Minimum Marketable Product, Minimum Marketable Features, and many more. Many people use these terms interchangeably and do not know the differences between them. All of these terms are quite different from each other although they have referred to the product developed in the initial stage of the product development. Often, people think about minimum business increment (MBI) and mistake it for MVP, MMF, or MMP. One has to know that though they are closely related concepts with similar names, they interpret different aspects of the developing product. This article aims to clear the confusion created between these terms and explains how each of the terms is different from one another.
Eric Ries defined a Minimum Viable Product as a learning vehicle that helps the business to test a particular idea by showing an early version of the product to the targeted customers and users. This helps businesses to learn about the needs of the audience by collecting relevant data such as feedback. For example, if you want to know that if ads could generate enough revenue on a specific social media platform or a website, you could first create an early Product Increment that consists of fake ads and then measure the number of clicks you are getting on the website. MVP acts as a risk reduction tool that helps you to gain knowledge about the uncertainty and risk that is associated with your original product. You have to spend a minimum of time and effort to create it but also make it an attractive product which you would like to implement more increments on. MVP is a way of testing ideas and hence, there are high chances that your idea may be wrong. So do not spend huge amounts of time and money creating an MVP and keep the product small enough to accelerate learning. It is completely fine if you could only generate qualitative data such as clickable mockups or paper prototypes as long as they are helpful to acquire the required knowledge about the product.
The idea behind MVP is that you can see the response of the users and customers by investing in minimum effort costing product which could be no more than a service with an automation appearance, or a landing page. The actual behavior of the customers could be seen using a product that does not require more investing or effort. With the feedback you receive from the users, you can understand what exactly the customers are interested in the product and develop accordingly.
The MMP is another concept that encourages businesses to create a minimal offering which is based on the idea where less is more. This concept describes that if you are creating a product that has the smallest possible feature that could help the users such as early adopters and innovators, this feature can be sold or marketed. The main aim of this concept is to reduce time-to-market as the product could be launched more quickly and an early return on investment can also be expected. This is more common sense to build products with the best features and limited ones. But over the years, companies have developed over-engineered products to provide value to their customers. This cluttered the product and enhanced the maintenance cost of the product and hence, became a loss for the company. You may be tempted to add cool features that every other competitor may be adding or write a few extra lines on a blog post, but in the end, it is about providing value to the customers by using minimal features or words. You have to carefully decide which are the features that make your product different from others and work on it as it makes a real difference to the users.
One of the best examples of MMP is Apple's 2007 original iPhone model which was a complex product where many people worked hard to build it. The phone did not provide as many features as its competitors provided; it did not have POP email integration, copy-paste option, or a video option as such. But still, the phone was a massive success because the key agenda of developing the product was to create the product for a few initially as MMP and not for the many. Initially, you have to focus on those features which would make your product look different from all other products in the market. Use MVP to discover the right features and use those features in your MMP.
The concept of minimum marketable feature is a subset of Minimum Marketable Product as it says that a small and self-contained feature that is built quickly and delivers value to users could be used as a tool to sell or market the product. This term is generally not in practice as it comes under MMP, however, most of the Agile industries constantly emphasize delivering value in the form of features to the product. The early and continuous delivery of valuable software is the product features developed by the Agile developers and which are added to the product as an increment. The feature that you add to the product should help your customers or users to perform a certain task which they were not able to do before. Both external and internal products use the concept of MMF as it includes several ways of protecting and increasing revenue, reducing and avoiding costs. Hence, the idea of MMF is that any feature which is self-sustained and small, and that which could be easily developed could be marketed or sold to promote and sell the product.
The Minimum Viable Product is very different from a Minimum Marketable Product but still, many professionals get confused between the two. MVP is a product purely made for understanding the behavior of the customers and to know what type of functionality is expected in the market. Using fake ads to see several clicks or to just develop products to get feedback without using much effort are examples of Minimum Viable Products. The Minimum Marketable Product, on the other hand, is the smallest amount of functionality that the business can deliver without having the compulsion of learning anything about the product viability. The primary goal of the MMP is to earn and sell the product where the team considers building features that will satisfy the needs of the customers. The MVP is not an accurate product and does not provide a proper assessment of whether the customers will use the product. However, it could be used to assess the reach of the product and also get feedback for the product to make it better. You should be aware that Developers can change a Minimum Viable Product to something completely different than they planned initially depending on the feedback of the customers They can also abandon the entire product if no customer wants that product. This saves an enormous amount of money as the MVP did not take much effort or amount in building it, but if the business built a product that nobody wanted, they would have incurred heavy losses.
MVP begins with a hypothesis that a targeted set of customers would want a particular product and the team works together to build a product that would satisfy their needs. The team builds MVP and releases it to the market and checks whether the hypothesis is true and customers require the product. The results of this experiment would show whether they have to work more on the product if the customers are interested or if they have to abandon the project. Also, the results give the information of all features to be added to the product to make it valuable.
Most professionals confuse MVP with MMF as they may sound similar and have similar definitions. However, one has to understand that MVP is about learning about the product which is going to be developed. In a Minimum Viable Product, there could be several MMFs, or a single MMF or no MMFs. MMF is the least effort feature which is small and self-sustained and could be sold in the market. Both MVP and MMF are not the same concepts, but both of them imply that a minimum functionality should be accomplished to gain a specific outcome. You also have to know that many Agile communities interchange the terms of MMP, MMF, and MRF.
When you can identify the marketable features of your product which is self-sustained, and those features that can perform well in the market, you can prioritize the releases of those features which would help you learn and earn simultaneously. On your first feature, you would be able to gain a good amount for your features; you could also work on your other features subsequently. These features can be broken down into user stories if they are large and can be delivered in multiple iterations along with feedback for each iteration.
One problem with confusing MMF and MVP is that if you treat your minimum marketable feature as a Minimum Viable Product, you would not be able to earn any returns as you are ignoring the marketable part in the MMF. If the team only wants to deliver features without considering whether revenue would be earned, then there would be problems in business. The product delivered may not have the required quality to generate returns and the company may incur losses.
In today's world of complex project building and management, every product starts with an MVP, MMP, and MMF. There would be a big-time confusion if you are mixing all of these terms. The Minimum Viable Product is a product mainly aimed to learn about the behavior of the users and customers and does not have an earning component. If necessary when the product does not receive any responses as hypothesized, then the product could be completely abandoned. The Minimum Marketable Product is a product that is developed with minimum effort to make money for the business. The MMF is a part of MMP where the self-sustained and small features are identified and integrated into the product. These features are marketable and would satisfy the needs of the customer. Hence, next time you come across these terms, pay attention to the context they are being used and use them accordingly.