mvp in internal software

minimum viable product, but is it really product?

SEAN K.H. LIAO

mvp in internal software

minimum viable product, but is it really product?

product, the minimally viable kind

The idea of a minimum viable product, or MVP, is an idea drilled into the mind of the modern startup engineer. At its core, it's executing just enough to be able to test a product hypothesis.

A product doesn't exist in a vacuum, to survive, there must be a market to consume, and more importantly, a strong market to sustain it, also known as product-market fit. A product (usually) isn't just a technical capability/feature, after all, we've all seen the graveyard of capable tools that see no adoption because it's too hard to use. The user interface/experience is, a lot of the time, what people will remember.

internal software

As a site reliability engineer, SRE, we're most commonly positioned as an enablement team: producing standards, best practices, guidance, and self serve tooling to enable product teams tp work autonomously.

I think this requires a bit of a different mindset from the startup mvp product engineer: unlike a startup fighting for survival in the open market, our customer base is fixed and captive. With the appropriate blessings from management, we can be a monopoly on providing/accessing a particular service/feature.

With a captive market and monopoly power, the environmental conditions for testing MVPs no longer exist. No matter how bad your UX/product is, you can hide it with high adoption rates via management directives. The MVP becomes a hollow word and arbitrary cutoff for features you put in.

Am I too jaded? Perhaps. Or maybe I'm suffering from the continuous lack of product managers whereever I go...