Use MBIs, MVPs, and MVRs

Often reducing batch size is all it takes to bring a system back into control – Eli Goldratt

What you have to do to use MBIs, MVPs and MVRs

MVPs are in. But they are also insufficient. No matter what we’re working on, smaller batches is a good idea. But it’s important to recognize the difference between why and how we can go small.  MVPs are about discovering if our new product idea is viable. We’re discovering both the value of the product and the customers that might want it. Unless you’re a start-up however, most of the time you’ll be looking to enhance an existing product or service. While we still have to validate our ideas, the requirement for the increment we’re building and how we validate it is different.

What challenges using MBIs, MVPs and MVRs improve

Common challenges that are improved when MBIs, MVPs and MVRs are used

Almost nothing has a greater affect on improving a development group’s ability to deliver value than using Minimum Business Increments. Going through each of the challenges in green above will make it clear why.

Takes too long to get anything done

Having smaller batches of work will speed things up.

Working on too many things

Having smaller batches enables you to finish things quickly. Having a focus on delivering value encourages a focus on finishing.

Strategy not clear to company

MBIs are selected on the basis of the company’s strategies.  All features and stories that are derived from the MBIs should be marked so that it is clear which MBI they came from. This enables all people working on these features and stories to know which MBI and therefore which strategies they derive from.

Ineffective budgetary process

MBIs make it easier to have an effective budgetary process because using MBIs increases flow and makes it easier to create a project to product mentality.

Work Items not properly prioritized

Sequencing work requires comparing properly sized work items. Anything larger than an MBI (such as an epic) or smaller than an MBI (such as a feature that isn’t releasable on its own).  MBIs can also be sequenced based on the strategies they are intended to provide value for.

Lack of visibility

No line of site to strategy

Because MBIs can be valued on the basis of the company’s strategies they can represent a way for people to see how the MBI, and therefore the work they are doing, manifests the strategies of the company.

Poor intake process

MBIs help the intake process because people can be taught that an MBI should be completed before another one is started. In order for an intake process to be effective it’s important that the pieces be the right size.

Chunks of work too big

MBIs are the smallest chunk of work for which value can be realized for.

Unclear requirements

It is easier to get clear requirements on smaller pieces of work. Also, since MBIs contain all of what is needed to realize value, it is more likely to get all requirements when MBIs are used.

Insufficient collaboration

Because the MBI describes all of what needs to happen fro value realization, this increases the awareness of how people will need to work together.

Integration errors

MBIs should be scheduled to be worked on across the teams at about the same time. While integration errors may still happen, because teams are more in sync with each other it should be easier to have teams coordinate better.

Problems discovered late

All too often requirements leave out small details that are required for realization such as marketing needs.  With the MBIs focus on value realization, not mere development, it is more likely that these problems can be avoided.

Ops blindsided and pulled in many directions

The need for ops will be part of the MBI. By watching the intake process and attending the planning event they can avoid being blindsided.