Project Management

The Challenge and Confusion of 'Viable'

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I recently had a conversation with someone who was bemoaning the fact that there was no way to fix the length of an agile project. I pushed back by saying that as long as the minimum viable product (MVP) had been delivered, it was perfectly reasonable to end an agile project after a fixed number of sprints. That would provide the schedule certainty that this individual was looking for. It may result in a compromise on the solution, but it is still a legitimate approach.

At the time, I was thinking that the conversation might give me some fodder for an article, but I was imagining it would be about the fact that stereotypes around agile still persist today—like the idea that you can’t predict when an agile initiative will end.

But as the conversation continued, I realized that there was another, better (at least in my opinion) topic that could come from it. The next thing this person said was, “Well, it can’t end if the solution doesn’t meet the need even if it is viable.”

And there we have it. Let’s explore the concept of viable and the MVP.

What is an MVP?
A minimum viable product, or MVP, is exactly that: the minimum solution that allows the customer to do what they are looking to achieve.

An example that is often used: A customer says that they want a car, and the MVP that is delivered is a skateboard. That’s …

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