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  7.17. Motive Communications and the Prototype Roadshow (4 min.)

Motive-Communications.pngFor its Virtual Prototype Test, Motive Communications performed both phone and on-site interviews. The Prototype Test consisted of the development of an actual prototype and a series of iterations that refined it. Motive Communications called this the non-disclosure phase (because they didn’t want competitors to find out what they were doing), and they selected about 25 companies (which is a high number) to test and refine the prototype. By taking prototypes to the customers and showing them their solution, Mike Maples Jr. and his team discovered many important pieces of information.

For one, even though customers claimed they wanted an entire host of features, the team narrowed down the Minimum Feature Set by rating whether a feature solved a specific critical problem or whether it was just a “nice-to-have” feature. Nice-to-have features were delayed until the second release of the product. Another important observation the team discovered through their prototyping was the need for them to have “content" - or a knowledge base of common solutions that support engineers could use. In addition, they discovered that their prototype needed to “tie into” existing help desk solutions that were used to track call resolution. By the end of the process, Maples and his team discovered several critical aspects of the product that they might have missed had they not taken their prototype on the road. Had they skipped this step they would have built a product, tried to sell it, and found that customers had very little interest in the product because it didn’t actually solve their problem in an acceptable way.