What is MVP?
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept that deals with the impact of learning in new product development. It was defined by Eric Reis as “a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”. This means creating a fundamental product to gather information on whether your customers will actually purchase your product. This information is dubbed validated learning. MVPs’ concept requires you to create an actual product that you can offer to customers and observe their actual behavior with the product or service. When dealing with MVPs, the product could be as basic as a landing page or a service with an appearance of automation but fully manual behind the scenes. This all revolves around the notion that seeing what people actually do concerning a product is much more reliable than asking people what they would do.
Do you have an amazing idea, which you are going to transform into a product and take your startup to the next level of success? Then it is important for you to have a clear understanding on how to come up with a minimum viable product or an MVP. This is something that you must do before you develop the entire product and release to the market. That’s because the MVP you develop can help your lean startup to receive valuable feedback on how the product would fit into solve a problem. This feedback can be incorporated to your product development cycle and ensure better results at the end of the day.
A Minimum Viable Product, which is also known as MVP would be a basic product that comes along with features that are designed to attract the early adopter customers. On the other hand, it is possible to use the MVP in order to validate the idea of a product before proceeding with the overall product development cycle. In the software development product, the concept of MVP is widely being used in situations where the development team is looking forward to get quick feedback from the client, and then incorporate changes needed when developing the product.
Here are the steps that you should follow in order to develop the MVP.
- Pick your problem
Before you develop a product, you need to pick a problem. Your product should provide an effective solution to that problem. When you take a look at the most successful products, you can see how this has been done.
It is possible for you to pick a problem in any niche. However, it is better if you can pick a problem that can be found in a niche that you are familiar with and you are passionate about. Then you will love to work along with the problem and come up with the best solution for it.
You need to do a comprehensive market study surrounding the problem. This will help you to get a basic understanding about the return that you can get out of your investment in developing the product. Along with that, you will be able to get a clear understanding about who your target customer base is.
- Get your idea validated
Once you are done with market research, you need to jump into the shoes of a person who will be using the product. You can do this with ease because the market research has helped you to figure out who your ideal customer base is. Then you will be able to investigate the problem from the perspective of a user.
You need to see how the user will interact along with the product you develop to find answers to the problem. Along with that, you should walk through the entire user journey. Then you can figure out whether your product can deliver a convenient solution for the user to deal with the problem or not. It is important to make sure that the product you develop is making the life easy for a user at all times.
- Design the product in a way, so that it is easy to use
In the meantime, you need to make sure that you are keeping the user journey simple as much as possible. People in today’s world are packed with tight schedules and they don’t prefer to go through lengthy processes in order to achieve what they want. Hence, you should think about providing convenient paths for the users to follow and get their work done at the end of the day. This will eventually contribute towards the overall success of the product that you develop as well.
Always keep in mind that your product should be simple as much as possible. Otherwise, nobody will use it.
- Create a list of goals that you wish to achieve with your product
Now you have a better understanding about the product that you should develop. While keeping that in mind, you should proceed to the next stage where you develop a list of goals that you wish to achieve. You will not be able to complete creating the MVP overnight. Instead, you will have to go through a series of milestones. You must brainstorm and understand what these milestones are. Along with that, you will be able to include the milestones accordingly and create a high-level plan.
Along with the high-level plan, you can also define the long term goals that you are planning to achieve with your MVP. Then you will be able to stick to the plan and follow it. This will help you to overcome numerous challenges that you will face at the time of developing the MVP.
- Figure out the features of your product
Last but not least, you need to understand the features that should be included in the MVP. Your features should help a user to go through a complete user journey. The user might not be able to accomplish all the activities. However, you need to make sure that the user can go from one end of the journey to the other end with basic features that you give. While keeping that in mind, you can pick a user and create your user stories. Then you can start converting those user stories into features of your MVP.
The most common reason why people implement MVPs is so that they can gain an understanding of your customers’ interest in your product without fully developing the product. You can tweak your product depending on the information you receive from the MVP. If you can find out whether or not your product will appeal to customers, the less effort and expense you spend on a product that will not succeed in the market.
Most development teams use the term MVPs but not in the way they originally intended to be used. They work with the belief that an MVP is the smallest amount of functionality they can deliver. While this is correct, it lacks the additional criteria of being sufficient to learn about the business viability of the product. Some people confuse MVPs for Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) or Minimum Marketable Product (MMP). While MVPs are focused on gathering information with the least product value, the other two focus on earning. This misconception won’t really harm the overall objective unless the development team becomes too dedicated to delivering something without considering whether it is the right something that satisfies the customer’s needs. Most teams focus entirely on the M in MVP rather than the V. The viable information part shouldn’t be neglected as a product might not be of sufficient quality to provide an accurate assessment of whether customers will use the product. With this misconception, teams only deliver what they consider an MVP and then do not do any further changes to that product, regardless of feedback they receive about it.
What is the Purpose of a MVP?
Eric Ries introduced the Minimum viable product as part of his Lean start methodology, and he describes the purpose of an MVP as follows: “it is the version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort”. There are several reasons why a company might choose to develop and release a minimum viable product because its product team wants to, some of which are;
- To get the product on the market as quickly as possible
- To test an idea for a product and observe user feedback before actually committing a large budget to the product’s full development
- Releasing MVPs lets the company know exactly what kind of products are popular among the target market. It can also be a heads up to know what doesn’t sit right with the target market
- MVPs allow companies to validate an idea for a product without having to build the entire product
- The companies also minimize the time and resources that might otherwise be wasted on building a product that won’t succeed.
How to create your own MVP?
You might ask yourself, how do you develop a minimum viable product, and how will your team know when you have an MVP that’s ready for launch? Well, ponder no further as I will list a few strategic steps to take.
Be sure that the MVP you have planned meets your business objectives. Before even considering the main features of the MVP, you have to make sure that the product will align with your team’s or your company’s strategic goals. Ask yourself these questions: What are those goals? Are you working toward a revenue number in the coming six months? Do you have limited resources? The answers to these questions are undoubtedly going to affect whether now is even the time to start developing a new MVP.
Another thing to consider is what purpose this minimum viable product will serve. Is it intended to attract new users in a market adjacent to the market for your existing products? If this is one of your objectives, then you should carry on with the MVP plan because it’s strategically viable along those lines. But if your company’s current priority is to continue focusing on your core markets, then you might need to shelve this idea and focus instead, perhaps, on an MVP designed to offer new functionality for your existing customers.
The next thing to do would be to identify specific problems you want to solve or improvements you want to enable your user persona. Once you have successfully aligned your MVP plans with your business objectives, you can start thinking through the specific solutions you want your product to offer users. The solutions can be written up as user stories, epics, or features. When writing these solutions, don’t represent the product’s overall vision; only subsets of that vision. Remember that your MVP has to have a bare minimum of functions.
To decide what feature to include or remove in your MVP, you’ll have to use strategic thinking and planning. Your decisions should be based on these factors:
- User research
- Competitive analysis
- How quickly you’ll be able to iterate on certain types of functionality when you receive user feedback
- The relative costs to implement the various user stories or epics
- Translate your MVP functionality into a plan of development action.
- Now that you’ve weighed the strategic elements above and settled on the limited functionality you want for your MVP, it’s time to translate this into an action plan for development.