The Advantages are Tough to Ignore
1. An Opportunity to Validate Product Against Customer Expectations
It is wise for a product owner to widen his focus and start looking beyond meeting customer requirements to meeting customer expectations. While requirements are largely measured against features and functionality, expectations should be measured against user experience and non-functional aspects of the product. It is a typical output vs. outcome debate ending without any conclusion in conference rooms and mostly answered by product adoption rate. A Pilot project is a good tool to predict product adoption (by its target user group).
2. Minimal Cost of Failure
Product recalls not only cost money but will also tarnish the brand image. Pilot projects are insurance against such failures, where a little extra cost in the development phase secures your product from serious failure. They also help in gauging whether a customer will get into a commercial deal or not. There cannot be any better economical way to predict product acceptance and adoption.
3. Setting Expectations with Customer
Pilot projects ensure that the customer is not taken by surprise when they see your product on the day of launch. Pilot projects are opportunity for potential buyers to get a feel for the product, provide feedback and get their expectations aligned with your implementation.
4. Eliminate Production Risks
Things that could not be imagined in labs or are overlooked or undermined during the development and testing phase could be a potential road blocker in production environment. It could be due to heterogeneous real life situations, some habits of users or the ecosystem under which product is used. Whatever it may be, pilot projects helps in detecting and in mitigating such risks.