Why and What is Right for Your Agile Team? Minimum (Viable vs Useful vs Marketable) Product

Arvind Mehrotra
13 min readApr 19, 2024


As digital transformation accelerates and release cycles get shorter, agile is now the de-facto methodology for product development. But more than getting your product to the market is required. It would be best to glean enough insights from the initial launch and iterations to perfect your offerings and create something that stands the test of time.

That is why the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) is so important, due to its ability to fast-track GTM without compromising product quality. Two other concepts are necessary for agile teams to know, i.e., minimum useful product (MUP) and minimum marketable product (MMP). Which one is right for you? Let’s revisit the definitions first:

· MVP (Minimum Viable Product): It is a core version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers and validate core assumptions.

· MUP (Minimum Usable Product): It is a term less common than MVP, but it is a product with the most basic functionalities required to be considered usable for its target audience. There might be minimal focus on features beyond core usability in an MUP.

· MMP (Minimum Marketable Product): This product iteration goes beyond basic usability and incorporates features necessary for initial market launch and customer acquisition. It has a feature set caters to a specific market segment and is designed to be presentable and competitive in the target market.

Three Types of MVPs to Consider

A minimum viable product is essential if you operate in a lean, agile environment. Right at the outset, an MVP is meant to be discarded before the actual launch; it is just a stop-gap prototype that lets you gain validated learning about your customer’s wants.

Think of it as the first draft of a book written by the author, who knows, it will go through editing relentlessly and barely resemble the original. However, despite iteration, the idea or the book’s spine must remain intact until the user feedback tells another story. So, focus on the following characteristics when developing your MVP strategy:

· Delivers Core Value Proposition: The MVP should offer the essential features that fulfil the product’s core purpose and address the primary user need.

· Focus on Usability: While not feature-rich, the MVP should be usable and allow users to experience the core functionality effectively.

· Early User Feedback: The MVP release to a targeted group of early adopters or beta testers. Their feedback is crucial for validating initial assumptions, identifying potential issues, and understanding user needs better.

· Learn and Iterate: The MVP is not the final product. The goal is to gather data and insights to inform future iterations and improvements.

· Minimal Features: An MVP focuses on essential features, minimising development time and resource requirements. It allows for faster launch and quicker feedback loops.

· Evolvable and Adaptable: The MVP is designed to be adaptable and evolve based on user feedback and market learnings. The addition of new features and functionalities in subsequent iterations must be the plan.

· Data Gathering: The MVP instrumentation collects usage data and user behaviour to inform future development and map the customer journey or disengagements.

· Measured Risk: Launching an MVP allows testing core assumptions with a lower initial investment than a fully featured product.

Given that MVPs are helpful only to glean insights about your target user, customer, or buyer, there are three types of MVPs you can consider:

Single feature: This is a product version with only the most essential aspect of your offering. A single feature MVP helps you understand if the product is meeting the core customer needs you want to solve. It doesn’t dig into user experience, stickiness, or other bells and whistles apart from the product’s central hypothesis.

The concierge MVP: This kind of MVP involves some handholding. There is no operational backend, and the product team manually handles whatever user request comes in. Concierge MVPs are a great way to get the customer’s pulse without any development effort. On the downside, it can be a laborious process.

Piecemeal: In the piecemeal approach, you stitch together a working product version using existing systems and tools. This MVP is the closest to the real thing regarding what the end user experiences, but the backend development is from scratch; its architecture has to enable scaling and cost optimisation.

Apart from this, agile teams may choose to “test the waters” as they did with marketing campaigns that mimic an MVP — for example, if you were to create a landing or pricing page even before the first version was ready.

Ownership of product design for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can vary depending on your organisation’s size, structure, and development methodology.

· A product designer or a small design team might take ownership of the MVP design in larger organisations with dedicated design teams. They would collaborate with product managers, engineers, and other stakeholders to understand user needs, translate them into the initial design, and iterate based on feedback. It can be cumbersome, and lacking alignment can cause MVP to improve via MUP or MMP tracks.

· Ownership might be more distributed in smaller companies or startups with lean teams. A product manager might own the overall product vision and user experience, working closely with a UI/UX designer to translate that vision into the MVP design. Engineers might also be involved in the design process, providing technical feasibility insights and ensuring the design aligns with development constraints. Cross-functional ownership works best since PODs deliver faster and more aligned results; however, scaling PODs can be difficult.

· Lately, some companies might outsource MVP design to external design agencies. It can be beneficial if you lack internal design expertise or need a fresh perspective. However, close collaboration between the agency and internal stakeholders is crucial to ensure the design aligns with your product vision and target audience. Taking MVP ownership and driving the product requires specialist skills in service outsourcing and establishing engineering/security/UX and data management guidelines.

At its core, MVPs perform two functions: they provide real-world usability insights, and they gauge genuine market readiness. What if you were to bifurcate the two — i.e., usability on the technical level and market readiness on the strategic level? That is precisely why some companies have started to opt for MUP and MMps instead.

What is the Minimum Usable Product (MUP)?

An MUP is a logical extension of the single feature MVP. It has all the essential features that will eventually be present in the final product, along with a working UX, a degree of stickiness, and some interconnectivity with other apps and solutions.

The characteristics that might define an MUP:

  • Basic Functionality: An MUP prioritises core functionalities that enable users to interact with the product and complete basic tasks. Usability is the primary focus, even if features are limited.
  • Intuitive Interface: The MUP should have a user interface that is simple, intuitive, and easy to navigate, even for users with no prior experience with the product.
  • Task Completion: The MUP should allow users to complete a limited set of tasks that showcase the product’s potential and demonstrate its ability to address a user’s need.
  • User Feedback Mechanism: An MUP might incorporate a primary feedback mechanism to gather user input on usability, interface clarity, and overall experience.
  • Rapid Development: MUPs are helpful to get something usable in front of users for early feedback. It can involve leveraging existing technologies or building upon prototypes.
  • Usability Testing: Usability testing with a target audience is crucial for an MUP to ensure the basic functionalities are intuitive and user-friendly.

The MUP is synonymous with the alpha or beta release for some teams. It may be released to a small portion of the target user base, to select testers, or to a dedicated MUP community. Typically, this product requires iteration and refinement before it can scale and reach the entire market.

Product engineering responsibilities focus on creating a functional core that demonstrates basic usability and delivers a Minimum Usable Product (MUP). The product engineering group should consider using rapid prototyping tools or existing technology stacks to expedite development and get a usable product in front of users faster. Even with a basic feature set, ensure the codebase is well-structured and documented to facilitate future growth and avoid technical debt. Implement a version control system (e.g., Git) to track code changes and enable easy rollbacks if necessary. Finally, document the technical aspects of the MUP, including codebase structure, functionalities, and any known limitations. It will be helpful for future development and potential handoffs. While security might not be a primary focus at the MUP stage, consider basic security measures to protect user data, if applicable. If the MUP shows promise and the user base grows, assess potential future scalability needs in your development approach.

The goal of the MUP is not to create a polished product but to establish basic usability and gather user feedback.

If your primary concern is establishing basic usability and user interaction with a minimal feature set, an MUP might be a good starting point. However, an MVP might be better if you want to validate the core value proposition and gather feedback on core functionalities. Thus, an MUP comes much later in the product release cycle since it involves significant work, including clearly understanding the user’s problems. If an MVP is when you test the hypothesis, the MUP is when you test if you have answered the hypothesis correctly.

What is the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)?

An MMP isn’t an iteration of the product. It occurs parallelly with your SDLC track when you have identified the hypothesis, know how to solve the business problem, and are looking to test the market and generate interest in anticipation of adoption.

A breakdown of the characteristics required to define an MMP:

· Competitive Feature Set: An MMP incorporates features necessary to compete in the target market. It means including functionalities that address user needs and potentially differentiate the product from competitors.

· Marketable and Presentable: The MMP is designed to be presented to a broader audience and used for initial market launch and customer acquisition. It has a polished look and feel that reflects the intended brand image.

· Targeted Value Proposition: The MMP focuses on a specific market segment and tailors its features to address the needs and preferences of that target audience.

· Enhanced Usability: While usability is a focus in MUP and MVP, an MMP takes it further. It offers a refined user experience with smoother workflows, intuitive interactions, and potentially additional features for user convenience.

If you have successfully validated the core value proposition with an MVP, you might be ready to develop an MMP with a broader feature set for market launch. In a crowded market, launching with an MMP that offers competitive features might be crucial for gaining traction. Developing an MMP requires more resources than an MUP or MVP. Ensure you have the resources available to create a market-ready product.

Achieving product-market fit (PMF) is a shared responsibility between business leadership and business segment owners, especially when a product finds new use cases. Here’s a breakdown of how each contributes:

Business Leadership (BL):

· They set the overall product vision and strategy. They define the target market, value proposition, and long-term goals for the product. They allocate resources (budget, personnel) to support product development, marketing, and sales efforts towards achieving PMF. BL guides data analytics and metrics to track progress towards PMF. It might involve customer acquisition costs (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLTV), user engagement, and retention rates. BL fosters innovation and experimentation within the organisation. It encourages the exploration of new use cases and adaptation to market feedback.

Business Segment Owner (Product Owner):

· The business segment owners (product owners) deeply understand the target market and user needs. They translate user needs into actionable product requirements for the development team. When the product finds new use cases, the product owner plays a crucial role in identifying these opportunities, analysing their viability, and adapting the product roadmap accordingly. It might involve working with the design and engineering teams to incorporate new features or functionalities. Product owners collaborate with business leadership to analyse relevant metrics like user adoption, engagement, and retention rates for different use cases. They use this data to determine the product’s effectiveness in addressing new market needs.

MMPs typically involve close collaboration between product and marketing teams. Sometimes, it is the best MVP and only serves as the base product version the company will use for its campaign. For example, combine ads and sales enablement materials only once you have created your MMP. It can also play a role in documentation and for any screen recordings or videos you will use in your tutorials.

How do you choose between Minimum (Viable vs Useful vs Marketable) Products?

A single-feature MVP is the way for a startup just beginning development. Once this is validated, you can develop the MUP and MMP simultaneously. In my experience, the MUP will come before the MMP stage, which aids in testing, iteration, and fine-tuning before you decide what to market and sell.

Here’s a table summarising the critical characteristics of MUP, MVP, and MMP:

The development process is often iterative, and you might revisit some checkpoints based on new learnings or changing market conditions. Focusing on these critical checkpoints ensures your product design is user-centric, your product engineering is robust and efficient, and you ultimately achieve product-market fit for a successful launch and sustained growth.

To the above checklist, please ensure your product design, engineering, and marketing teams adopt the following checkpoints in their roadmaps.

Following are the product design checkpoints:

· Before starting design, confirm there’s a real problem your product solves. Conduct user research, analyse market trends, and ensure you understand the target audience’s needs and pain points, i.e., Product validation.

· Create detailed user personas that represent your target audience. These personas should outline user demographics, behaviours, goals, and challenges.

· Map out the user journey for your product, outlining the steps users take to achieve their goals using your product. Identify potential pain points and opportunities for improvement. Customer journey or User journey mapping is critical; the journey map changes as users adopt more features and functionalities.

· Develop low-fidelity wireframes to visualise the core functionalities and user interface. At a later stage, gather user feedback on usability and design direction via interactive prototypes.

· Conduct usability testing with real users to identify design, user interface, or user flow issues. Use this feedback to refine the design before full-scale development.

For the product engineering team, it is critical to develop a robust plan consisting of:

· Evaluate the technical feasibility of your product design. Consider factors like available technologies, development resources, and scalability requirements.

· Prioritise features based on user needs, business goals, and development efforts. First, focus on building the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with core functionalities.

· Define the system architecture for your product, outlining the components, technologies, and data flow. It ensures a well-organised and scalable development process.

· If your product integrates with external APIs, ensure proper API selection, testing, and documentation are in place.

· Conduct thorough security testing throughout development to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

The critical step of Product-Market Fit is not only validation for the ability to address the TAM (target audience market) but also validation for stakeholders to invest further, so do the following checks:

· Develop and launch an MVP with core functionalities to gather early user feedback and validate core assumptions.

· Conduct market research to understand your target audience, competitor landscape, and overall market size and trends.

· Define your strategy to reach your target audience and drive product adoption. It might involve marketing campaigns, content marketing, or partnerships.

· Track Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) to measure the effectiveness of your user acquisition strategy and product pricing. Ensure your CLTV is higher than CAC for sustainable growth.

· Monitor user engagement and retention metrics to understand how users interact with your product and identify areas for improvement.

· Gather user feedback through surveys, interviews, and customer support channels. Utilise this feedback to iterate on your product and improve its fit with market needs.

Regardless of the approach (MVP, MUP, or MMP), prioritise user needs and focus on building a product that solves a real problem for your target audience. Actively seek user feedback throughout the development process. This feedback is crucial for refining your product and ensuring it meets user expectations. The development process should be iterative. Be prepared to adapt your approach based on user feedback and market realities. The approach needs to continue as the product scales or finds new use cases, as it will be essential to revalidate dispersion from your goal post and adopt the features to validate the value generation.

By understanding the nuances of MVP, MUP, and MMP and carefully considering your product’s specific needs, you can choose the most appropriate development path to ensure success.

Ultimately, an end-to-end product release cycle will include all three concepts. I was hoping you could email me at arvind@am-pmassociates.com to know your current readiness.



Arvind Mehrotra

Board Advisor, Strategy, Culture Alignment and Technology Advisor