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My client is blocking MVP

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I’ve been pulled into an escalation , not my client or my project, and documentation was poorly managed. But basically a client verbally signed off on a set of features for an MVP that took our dev ~6 months to build. Now that’s it’s ready to ship client is refusing to sign-off and claims the product is worthless without a number of other features. Estimated effort is another 3-6 months. Advice ? We don’t have the budget for the additional build and they refuse to table features for next phase.

So far, I have tried explaining that an MVP isn’t intended to meet all requirements out right - but they don’t care and have accused our team of trying to force a sh*tty product on them.

Our response

Author: Joe Tannorella
Rocket Role Team
Difficult situation at this point.

I'd bring it back to the "why" for the project and use your product management principles to come back to... When you say:

So far, I have tried explaining that an MVP isn’t intended to meet all requirements out right - but they don’t care and have accused our team of trying to force a sh*tty product on them.

What outcome are the requirements going to result in? If it's an MVP then the intention is to learn. The sooner you release, the better. The absence of a feature is a GOOD thing. When you launch your users will very quickly ask for missing features that they find valuable... The list of features users ask for will almost certainly be different to the list that is backlogged right now.t is backlogged right now. In that sense, you are saving the company from building the wrong features, leading to happier customers and better UX.

Does the client recall verbally signing things off? What did that conversation look like?

What outcome are the requirements going to result in? If it's an MVP then the intention is to learn. The sooner you release, the better. The absence of a feature is a GOOD thing. When you launch your users will very quickly ask for missing features that they find valuable... The list of features users ask for will almost certainly be different from the list that is backlogged right now.

We also asked some experts...

Advice from thousands of podcasts episodes, including:
Here's what they had to say:

🔎 Understand the Problem Deeply
Jeremy Henrickson from Rippling emphasizes the importance of understanding the problem deeply before building a product. If you're only thinking through the simple cases, you might end up building the wrong thing technically. This can lead to a product that doesn't fully meet customer needs and is difficult to modify later on. In your case, it might be helpful to revisit the problem you're trying to solve and ensure that the MVP addresses it effectively.

Try this: Revisit the problem statement with your team and client.

Source: Moving Fast and Navigating Uncertainty: Jeremy Henrickson – Lenny's podcast

🎯 Set Ambitious Goals Incrementally
Tido Carriero from Segment suggests setting slightly too ambitious goals incrementally. This approach allows you to make progress while also keeping the project flexible. In your situation, consider setting incremental goals for the additional features the client wants, and discuss these with the client to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Try this: Set incremental goals for the additional features and discuss these with the client.

Source: Episode 16 – First Round Review podcast

📈 Evaluate Project Impact
Lastly, consider the impact of the project. As suggested by an expert on the First Round Review podcast, it's less about the deadline and more about the product that comes out the other end. If the MVP doesn't meet the client's needs, it might be worth revisiting your approach and considering the impact of the additional features.

Try this: Evaluate the impact of the MVP and the proposed additional features.

Source: Episode 66 – First Round Review podcast

Closing Summary

In summary, revisiting the problem statement, setting incremental goals, and evaluating the project's impact could help navigate this difficult situation. It's important to maintain open communication with the client and work towards a solution that meets their needs without compromising the project's viability.

All "ask an expert content" does not represent the views of any expert or individual. All provided links are not affiliated or operated by Rocket Role.

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