Planning a minimum viable product(MVP) properly is a key to make a well thought out product. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with features to an extent that satisfies customers and provides appropriate feedback for future development. Defined by Frank Robinson, CEO of SyncDev and popularized by authors Steve Blank and Eric Ries on 2011, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to gather practical insights about it and its continued development. Some of today’s most popular products started out as a MVP. A classic example is the Apple 1, which was the first computer Apple released. This 1976 model was simply a circuit board and did not have a case, monitor or keyboard. A MVP has enough value that people use it. The goal is to provide immediate value, quickly, while minimizing development costs.
First approach shows the conventional strategy of investing time and money to implement the whole product before verifying whether customers want it or not. Second path allows having functional smaller versions to include customers’ feedback on the product lifecycle, validating the actual usage scenario, instead of simply relying on preliminary market research, which often provides misleading results. Escale Solutions also prefers following this method of product development. Seeing what people actually do with respect to a product is much more reliable than asking people what they would do. Sometimes, the first iterations of an MVP may look too simple, compared to the number of ideas they have in mind. That’s understandable, but the focus here is definitely not building as many features as you can, but having a delightful, usable, valuable and feasible product from day one.
This step-by-step guide will help you get a clear MVP template to follow in planning a MVP –
- PERFORM AN INITIAL MARKET STUDY – Before dwelling into the execution of the idea, find the potential your product has or might have in the existing market. You should talk to users, search for similar kind of products, and look for potential competitors. There might be a probability that you might have the same idea as someone else in the market. Given the existence of so many people in the world, some ideas are bound to be redundant. Although redundant ideas are not an issue, their potential or feasibility needs to be looked into.
- LIST THE FEATURES YOU ENVISION FOR YOUR PRODUCT/APPLICATION – Without any hesitation, you need to use your unfettered mind to list all the features of your product. This step is essentially ideal to be done before you start looking for the right partners to develop your idea. Although you will focus on the MVP, it’s nice to share the list of features and see how they respond to them, so you can measure their level of confidence not only going over the MVP, but kind of feeling what they think about the whole product.
- DEFINE THE UNIQUENESS OF YOUR PRODUCT – The main goal is to develop a product that will attract customers who will eventually use it because of certain things that make it different from the rest. Knowing what makes your app unique from day one will help out focusing efforts (time and money) from the very first moment.
- SEPARATE CORE FEATURES AND ADD-ONS – Separate the list into most important features and features that can be done as add-ons after the MVP launch. This step seems very straightforward, but sometimes feelings and dreams can be a trap and you will end up with a big set of features for the MVP. Review it as much as you can until you come up with a filtered and ordered list based on your knowledge about market priorities and requisites.
- LOOK FOR THE RIGHT PARTNER TO DEVELOP MVP – You need to look for the right partner to develop MVP based on these factors – Communication, Decision Support, Design, and Full Stack Engineering.
When it comes to communication, you should be able to talk directly to the developers if you need to change a button color right away, for instance. If the company works clearly, they will estimate every feature, let you decide about it and track the time spent week by week. Then, you’ll be able to measure the team’s performance and discuss improvements in the workflow on a weekly basis. There should be proper collaboration. Unless it’s a more technology-specific MVP, which won’t require user experience at all, you’ll need the product design prior to the start of the development. Discuss the flow between features on a screen by screen basis, go over the user experience back and forth and make sure everything connects smoothly. There is another reason for having a good design for the MVP: you’ll be able to get user feedback even prior to start the development since many companies work with prototyped design as a standard. One should design an MVP. You should make sure that your product is capable of working on all platforms.
- REVIEW THE CORE FEATURES WITH TEAM – This step requires additional knowledge because you will review the list of features looking into the development side to come up with estimates of time and costs for each feature, thus having the final input for selecting the ones that you will want in your MVP. It is also very important to prioritize all the features of the product to track the progress of each component of the product.
The primary benefit of an MVP is you can gain an understanding of your customers’ interest in your product without fully developing the product. The sooner you can find out whether your product will appeal to customers, the less effort and expense you spend on a product that will not succeed in the market.