Why build an MVP, Minimum Viable Product

Often our clients come to us with a product idea which they want to launch as fast as possible. We usually advise them to build an MVP first in line with the Lean Product development strategy.

It usually gives us two things all projects need to become successful:

  1. A chance to validate the basic assumptions that were made to define the product.
  2. More time to build the final product with better data to guarantee a better end result.

What should your MVP look like?

Minimum Viable Product usually gets build by removing additional product features that do not add to the end goal of the product. 

For example, when we were building OVO we understood that the most important feature to build is the payment feature. We also wanted to add a tool to monitor your spending so you know how to better spend your money. This second feature was not a core functionality to the product we were trying to build so we removed it from the MVP product that we developed. 

This enabled us to build an app that looked like the final product and had its vital functionality in a fraction of the time we would have needed to build the app with all the functionality.

Another upside of first releasing a Minimum Viable Product is that the operations teams can already start to deploy the application to the customers and getting vital feedback so we can still optimize the final version of the product.

What is a normal development time for an MVP?

How long the development time for your MVP is going to be is depending on how diligent you are at removing all the unnecessary features from the app. If you have done your work well, you should be able to develop it in 3 to 6 weeks. This will depend on the complexity of your core functionality.

What to keep in mind when defining your product?

How to scope your Minimum Viable Product

If you want to build a minimum viable product you do not want to make the mistake that your released product is not in line with your end goal.

I always like the example that if you want to build an MVP car you should end up with a very simple 4 wheeled vehicle that has a steer and a seat for your user to sit in.

You should not build a bicycle with two wheels because at the core they are very different. A car uses an engine and fuel to move you forward and on a bicycle, you only use your leg power.

Even though both bring you from A to B in a faster fashion then walking the way they solve this problem is totally different so your findings will not bring you closer to the end result you are working towards.

What could be the end result of an MVP journey?

As soon as you released your product in your target market you can start gathering vital information to make the following decisions:

  • Should we continue building the product using our previous assumptions or pivot?
  • Should we stop the project as the results showed that the market is not waiting for our solution?
  • We found that our core functionality is not interesting for our end-user but did find a related functionality that could replace that function.

What an MVP is not?

It is not a way to see what the minimal marketable product is going to be. As for that, we move from the user side to the business side of the project.

As a result of the minimum viable product stage, we get what an end-user likes to use and how they prefer to interact with the product.

We do not get the answer if they want to pay for it or if it makes the company profitable.

For that, you could do an MMP exercise which stands for Minimum Marketable Product.

So what is it?

It is the perfect way to start an agile product development journey. As it gives you early feedback from your users that you can include in your product development process. So you end up with an end-product that is closer to the product you need to be successful in your market.

A few tips to get the best out of your MVP.

  • Make sure what you build as core functionality works well. You do not want your user to get disappointed with your most important feature.
  • Keep the scope small.
  • Include your full team to define the MVP and ask them for the questions they want to get answered. Again do not make it about money, but keep it product-centric.
  • Understand the KPI’s you want to track during this stage. Have them well formulated and have a dashboard ready to monitor them all.

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