Every Project is a Lean Startup

When we start a new project, there’s excitement in the air. The world is our oyster! Ideas run wild! In that euphoric moment we want to do it all, and it’s easy to lose sight of the real need.

A woman in front of her mapped out project

Feb 11, 2022 | BY LookThink Team , Problem Solvers

Each new project is an exciting adventure for us! Still, that excitement shouldn’t overshadow our actual goals. We want to deliver value to users and drive business objectives on every project. To do this, we’ve created a project management process that includes planning, prioritizing, and repetition. A great example is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which holds immense value for project management. The Lean Startup method offers four rules for building a project vision and process:

Source: Startup Hyperbad


1. Eliminate Uncertainty

Before you build anything, make sure you know what your end goals are. Think about what you want it to achieve rather than what you want your project to be. For example, instead of thinking “we need our employee portal to look better.” think “we need to increase employee productivity.” Knowing these goals will help you avoid a common pitfall in digital project builds: choosing vanity over value. End goals will become checkpoints for your decisions — eliminating uncertainty. 


2. Consider Your Users

You know your end goals, now get to know your users! Functionality affects them, so the features should speak to their needs. Consider these questions:

  • How will this feature benefit the user?
  • Does the benefit of this feature relate to my core goals?

If “a lot” and “yes” are your answers, prioritize it — otherwise, it’s a waste of time and money. You can discover more about your users through focus groups, user interviews, and user tests to confirm your approach. Ultimately, this will help you make better decisions. 


3. Make an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

The features that have both a high impact on users and a low-tech lift from present systems should be your priority. Remember, you don’t have to squeeze in every idea from the start — doing so may distract you from your core goal. Instead, make simple changes at the start if your MVP isn’t resonating. 

Source: Stephen Gay

Projects that need to be rolled out quickly should still have an iterative build process. Start with an MVP, test it, and build upon it with complex features. In the end, you’ll have a great foundation of core functionality — you’ll also save development and design time. Keep in mind, not everything has to be complete. Build the important features well and you can finesse the complexities later.


4. Validate

Test your MVP at every step with beta users so you can gather feedback and make impactful changes. Afterwards, you can add a few more features and repeat the process until the project is complete. If users have negative feedback, it means something has to change. If you test at each stage of the project, you’ll be able to pivot much more easily than waiting until the end — or worse, waiting until after launch.

Important PSA: “testing” doesn’t mean reviewing and discussing how you assume users will react. Testing puts the design, or prototype, or staging product in front of real users. With their feedback, you can identify pain points and successes.

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