MVP

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.

Benefits

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.

Common misconceptions

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 observing 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.