I end up planning for the next task while my current one is still in progress. Typically, a multi-year project is broken into phases. Prior to the completion of the first phase, discussions are already under way for the next phase. As humans, it is natural to get excited about the new features in an application and want to continually improve on those features. Yet, it is worthwhile to take a pause from “What’s next” or “What’s new”, so that the team can reflect on parking lot items and lessons learned to help define product value.
Here are a few action items that a Business Analyst (BA) or any team member can resume post MVP release:
- Revisit the user’s wish list: I have worked on initiatives where we got so focused with the delivery of MVP that the immediate next step was to continue to improve the released MVP. In this process, the wish list of the end users or “nice to have” requirements that were tabled were permanently left off.
How can I help? Record, revisit and re-evaluate wish list items on the backlog once the dust settles down with the MVP release. Follow up discussions relating to these items act as a reminder and help discover new backlog items.
- Address edge cases: Recall exceptional scenarios that came up in previous meetings? Often, these exceptions do not transpire on a regular basis and end up on the back burner because the goal initially is to just rollout the MVP.
How can I help? Schedule a discussion, create a project plan and address the one-off scenarios. Risk and prioritize these scenarios to determine which ones will be in the next MVP release and which ones will potentially never need attention.
- Reiterate “New functionality vs value”: I was shopping online once, and the website met all the primary needs of an online shopper. However, it was when I had entered all the payment information, I was notified that an item was not in stock. As an online customer, I see more value in receiving live inventory updates for an item instead of the fancy features offered on the website. From the vendor’s perspective, MVP release could be “complete”, but did anyone analyze and evaluate what is truly valuable to an online customer?
How can I help? Perform value analysis. Collaborate with the business partners to define “value”. Value may look very different from the lens of a manager vs the lens of an end user.
- Update glossary: I have attended meetings where participants call out terms and abbreviations. When it is a global project, there is an extra layer of chaos since there are a myriad of words and languages thrown all over the place. A lack of standard global terminology is an ongoing problem.
How can I help? Volunteer to author this list and get the definitions reviewed by business partners. Maintain a glossary as a living document in a central repository where everyone can review it after every MVP iteration.
- Gather feedback: Are the users inundated with the new application or functionality? Are they forced to adopt the new application? Do they feel it is the same way of doing business but in a new application this time?
How can I help? A survey is a great option to capture the true sentiments of a user. It gives them an opportunity to vote on their likes and helps the team determine value for the next MVP release.
Have you resumed tasks that were placed on hold due to the MVP release? What are the action items you would like to pick up from where you left off? Think about it!! You do not want to keep improving the last MVP endlessly and overlook the features that never made it to the MVP release. The end goal is not to get so absorbed with the MVP that the tasks or action items post MVP release slip through the cracks.
“Strive Not to Be A Success, But Rather to Be of Value” - Albert Einstein