Modern Product Teams and MVPs
In the beginning of his book Inspired, Marty Cagan explains how he fell into Product Management. As a young software developer at HP Cagan and his team were tasked with building an advanced AI system. They worked on this product for months. When they were finally able to launch — the team received accolades for creating such a technically advanced product. However, when they launched to the customer, the product was a flop and made no money for the business. Cagan realized that they missed something major at HP — a company focused on product development.
From then, Cagan decided he wanted to only work for product-centric companies. He decided he wanted to “work on products that customers love — products that customers love.” (Cagan, 2017).
Products customers love are built in a number of different ways. One of these ways is called a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. In simple, MVPs are used to test a product with users before actually spending a lot of time and/or money on said product.
An MVP is a valuable tool to use but as Marty Cagan states in Inspired, “they are not silver bullets” (Cagan, 2017). In fact, there seems to be an ‘old’ way of practicing MVPs that can cause real problems. These problems occur when teams spend months building and developing an MVP that has no real direction. This can lead to products that are built with no validation or customer discovery leading to a failed (expensive) MVP experiment.
Smart modern product teams have recognized this and have developed better ways to build and test products. When it comes to building anything new teams first task themselves with customer discovery. They bring an idea to the customers of a new product or feature and let them explain their needs, wants, and in some cases, customers help to build the idea of the new product. Only then are they willing to begin to build an MVP to quickly be shipped to potential customers for testing.
As modern product teams implement some of these methods there can be a real benefit to the company as a whole. Let me explain.
Product-focused companies have become mainstream in recent years and for good reason. As we have all transitioned to using software more frequently, both in our personal life and our work life, product teams are required to keep those companies alive and constantly focused on the customer.
Modern Product teams offer some real advantages for software and tech companies. Here are five things that product fixes:
1. Innovation: By having teams focused on product development your company can become a powerful innovation machine seeking to bring more and more value to your customer.
2. Customer Understanding: The product team spends a lot of time with customers understanding their pain points and communicating this can be communicated to many other areas of the company and can be of high value.
3. Business Support: There is an alignment of business goals and product features. A good product organization can translate business needs into potential solutions solving for OKRs and increasing customer retention, customer loyalty, and business revenue.
4. Collaboration: Product teams are very fluid and gather a lot of information. The product org touches almost every part of the company and can inspire and invoke collaboration.
5. Validation: A large part of the product team's responsibility is to validate customer experience through digital products. This is a major for any company to have a team dedicated to customer validation. Customer validation leads to happier customers which lead to company success.
Check out the book Inspired by Marty Cagan.