What is an MVP?
MVP stands for ‘Minimal Viable Product’ and is a development strategy that emphasises on building a streamline version of a product with only the features required to satisfy early users. The ultimate goal? Shortening time-to-market and confirming the viability of the business idea.
How do you determine the core functionalities of an MVP?
In the realm of MVP development, the process begins by determining the MVP’s essential features, including creating the smallest vertical slice that can provide tangible value to the customer. The emphasis is on providing a functioning subset that answers a particular need rather than aiming to develop a complete product from the ground up. This way, users can still engage with the product from the get-go.
When developing an MVP, you need to use a systematic approach to prioritise the most essential features of the product. To do that, usually you start by identifying what brings value to the users. Let’s consider an appointment booking solution for example. Its primary function is to allow the user to book an appointment. This means that functionalities such as payment for appointments and a fancy booking journey are add ons rather than core values.
Perhaps the most challenging part of MVP development is finding the thread that showcases the most valuable thing. Then with each iteration, you would end up adding more and more value through various features until you have a big product that has everything.
If we look at the cake model, instead of baking a full three-tier cake, you start by focusing on making a single layer of cake that captures the spirit of your idea. It has the main flavour as well as a suggestion of the topping you may want to include.
Once you have received some customer feedback, you continue to add some extra decorations and repeat the process until you are ready to bake the complete three-tier cake.
Ultimately, an MVP is more than just about building a product, it’s about testing assumptions. You validate assumptions by measuring positive feedback at every level. The initial layer of the cake is dictated by the first assumption- peoples’ fondness of chocolate cake. The second assumption- decorations enhance the appeal of the cake motivates gradual embellishments. The final assumption- more cake is better- justifies the three-tier dessert. So, if the first assumption fails and you have already spent time and resources to bake the entire three-tier cake, at this point, pivoting becomes very costly.
MVP vs Prototype: Unveiling the difference
An MVP is a fully-functioning product with limited features intended for real-world use. While on the other hand, a prototype is a visual and functional representation of the product and is used for testing and refining the design concepts before the product development phase. A prototype is a visualisation of the product and not a working piece of software.
Steps for building an MVP
Incremental improvements and continuous user validation pave the road of success in MVP development. The following seven steps will guide you towards building a successful MVP:
- Idea and market analysis – start by refining your concept and identifying your market and target audience. Consider what is your users’ journey and what will your product do to bring benefit to the consumer. It is all about the value that it could bring to the end user.
- Lean canvas – use the lean canvas approach to put your ideas into perspective and initiate the idea validation process. Determine the problem, your solution and the unique value proposition your product offers. Pinpoint the problem your MVP is trying to solve.
- Determine risks and assumptions – identify any risks or assumptions to test, ensuring a robust foundation for your MVP.
- Functional development – create a working MVP that addresses the top problem, allowing your users to interact and engage with your product.
- Quality of the product – implement a testing and monitoring phases to establish any problems that may occur.
- Validation – launch your product to your target audience and collect real-life feedback to validate your assumptions and gather insights. And then move on to add the next big feature.
- Define and measure success – remember that the journey doesn’t end with the MVP release. Continuously monitor performance and implement testing and quality assurance to refine the MVP and add more features in the future. Then, compare the product’s success with pre-defined performance metrics.
MVP development is getting more and more popular as a strategy for accelerating time to market and validating product concepts. By focusing on the core value, business can use this pragmatic product development strategy to achieve success.