There’s a lot of steps on the way to launching a new product. Not only do you have to research the market, make a plan, and decide on the selling points, but you also have to somehow keep your project on track until completion.
Who’s got the time?
Worst of all, your new product development is under constant threat of something known as feature creep. It happens when your product gets bloated with tons of ‘amazing’ features although it’s impossible to integrate them all successfully.
In our experience, the best way to simplify the process and efficiently manage your product development is to utilise a MVP to your advantage. No, we’re not talking about a most valuable player like on a sports team. Although, just like in athletics, an MVP does have the ability to be a game-changer for your business.
In this post, we’ll show you why a minimum viable product is the easiest route to determine the core functionality of your product and keep your development focused and on track – without having to worry about a ballooning list of features.
Why you should be cautious about adding too many features
Feature creep is when a company is short-sighted in its design process and tries to stuff a prototype or launch product with too many features. It’s kind of like the old adage ‘quality versus quantity’. A feature-rich product prefers the quantity parameter although it sacrifices usability, precision and efficiency by doing so.
Feature creep can commonly affect designers, engineers, project managers and leadership teams. Heck, even a CEO can enter a development room, suggest some crazy new idea and unknowingly contribute to feature creep.
While yes, you should normally listen to your CEO, there’s still a downside to cramming your product development with too many unnecessary features. Bloating a product with too many features can create an overly complex product, delays in development, cost overruns and contribute to high expectations of the product that are impossible to live up to.
Why is feature creep so common?
In short, feature creep can be a death sentence for your product development. But why does it happen in the first place?
Here’s a list of the most prevalent causes of feature creep. Do any of these issues exist in your company?
- Lack of a written scope of work. Without a well-documented and agreed-upon product roadmap, stakeholders and team members of all kinds can slowly contribute new ideas to the project that can lead it down the road to feature creep.
- Lack of communication. Once the project parameters have been set, everyone involved with the project must understand the same expectations about cost, scale and features. Let us repeat – everyone must understand the same project parameters! If everyone has the same understanding, the project won’t get bloated as it gets passed around from department to department during its development cycle.
- Lose sight of value. Some people call this shiny object syndrome and it should be avoided at all cost. Don’t try to impress your audience with fancy new features – only include the key features that are relevant to the goal of the product, which is to add value to customers.
- Input from too many people. Investors, designers, engineers and maybe even friends and family can all have a voice at the early stages of a project. Just remember – you won’t satisfy everyone! Keep your eye on the prize and prioritise the feedback that your customers provide.
- Get into a competition. If you launch your product or business model alongside a competitor, it’s easy to get into a showdown for the most feature-rich product. However, the long-term winner is the company that builds a product that resonates with users, not the one who has the most feature-rich offering.
What is an MVP?
A minimum viable product is a stripped-down version of your product that enables you to get to market quickly and collect customer feedback. It’s part of an iterative design process whereby you add functionality, features and value in progressive stages during your development lifecycle.
The big thing to remember about an MVP is that it won’t be perfect. It just has to be ‘good enough’ and include enough features to satisfy early customers so you can collect feedback to inform future product development.
All sorts of organisations use MVPs, from garage-based Kickstarter phenoms to large corporations. There’s a certain sweet spot, however, that an MVP can benefit the most: an organisation with 10-15 employees. An MVP has a great chance of benefiting a company of this size because it allows it to boost focus, add rigor to planning exercises and ultimately launch the best-possible version of a product in the long term.
What’s so great about MVPs?
MVPs can provide lots of benefits to a company’s design process. They can give you:
- Confidence about your investments because you can see an early version of your product.
- Data about costs and the manufacturing process so you can improve future iterations.
- Customer feedback so you can improve your product by adding the most value to your end-users.
- Focus during development because only essential features and core functionality are necessary for an MVP launch.
Remember that list of common pitfalls that contribute to feature creep? Well, an MVP has the potential to counteract everything on that list, so if you’ve never thought about using MVPs in your design process, now is the time!
The most consistent roadmap to success
The first time you launch your product, you’re not going to get it 100 percent right. But that fact shouldn’t scare you! In fact, it’s demonstrative of the value that an MVP can bring – you don’t have to get it right the first time. That’s because your MVP is not your final product!
Once your teams have agreed on what should be included in the MVP, just build it! Don’t worry about adding fancy features until later.
An MVP isn’t about the pursuit of perfection. That mentality will only lead to feature-creep and your MVP bloating into something that can’t be sustained. Instead, keep your MVP modest and test out core functionality. Only then are you ready to worry about adding additional features.
If you research and plan your MVP and contribute new features gradually over the iteration process, you’re much more likely to hit success in your new product development process.