From Minimum Viable Product to Minimum Business Increment

For many years, agile teams have focused on delivering the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Project managers transitioned from traditional or predictive approaches to adopting an agile mindset with sprints and pivots. However, building a product or delivering a service is not enough. It is of limited scope. To truly deliver value to the enterprise, project managers need to expand their thinking, if not their scope, from project delivery to business value delivery.

Ultimately, business value is measured in dollars. To get those dollars, the MVP needs to be marketed, sold, and supported. Communications is bound up with all these activities. The astute PM needs to develop strong relationships across the organization with communications, marketing, sales, and support managers. Each of these departments has a particular view of how they deliver value to the enterprise.

The PM needs to align and coordinate these leaders to deliver value to the customer. So for each MVP, in order to test the viability of the product or service, the PM needs the enterprise to collectively work on the same cadence. This need not be the short iterations of the development team; these departments could be synchronized along longer release cycles.

In order to deliver the MBI, the enterprise, or at least the functions of Communications, Marketing, Sales and Support needs to work in an agile fashion. Using the metaphor of an orchestra, the PM is transitioning from leading (say) the strings section, to conducting all the musicians. From the C-level perspective, project management could remain a function to deliver the product, or it could be leveraged to deliver business value. If not the Project Management Office, where else in the enterprise are leaders regularly forced to think and act across departmental silos? The collaborative and relational aspects of stakeholder management are the very same skills that are required to deliver MBIs. So in essence, PMs need to be charged not merely with project delivery (in itself a difficult task) but also business value delivery in order for the enterprise to maximize the value of the PMO.

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