Avoiding the Wrong MVP Approach

Jared M. Spool
4 min readMar 12, 2019

UX Strategy with Jared Spool, a Center Centre — UIE newsletter focused on bringing UX to a strategic level inside your organization.

“We could make our customers happier and save the company a ton of money, all at the same time.” That was the pitch behind the innovation team’s new idea.

Yet, many at this 120-year-old insurance company weren’t convinced. They thought it could never work.

The innovation team’s idea was conceptually simple: The insurance company’s claims adjusters use photographs to assess the damage and fill out claims reports. Instead of sending professional photographers out to take the pictures of damaged vehicles and homes, they’d let customers send in their own pictures.

The company pays those photographers a lot of money. Plus, there aren’t enough of them, so customers often have to wait. Customers often need to be present when the photographers show up, which means missing work or other responsibilities. The current process is slow, frustrating, and expensive.

On the surface, it seems like a great idea. However, there are questions to resolve. Could customers take photos good enough for adjusters to do their job? These photographers go through extensive training to ensure the pictures capture the right information.

What about an MVP?

The claims processing product team was chartered with figuring out how to make something like this work. In the olden days, they would just dive in and build working functionality, hoping it would work great when launched. But, it never worked great.

To prevent a poor launch experience, the executive team had latched onto this idea of a Minimum Viable Product or MVP. They could create and deliver an MVP quickly, to see if this idea of customer-supplied damage photos might work for the claims adjusters.

What exactly is an MVP?

For many organizations, they’ve come to use MVP to mean a less functional, limited implementation application. Build it quick, get it into the hands of customers, and see how they like it.

Yet, a limited functionality version, for customer-supplied claims photos, would still be a lot of work. They’d need a way to…

Jared M. Spool

Maker of Awesomeness at Center Centre - UIE. Helping designers everywhere help their organizations deliver well-designed products and services.