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Minimum Viable Product Process

What, Why, and How of the Minimum Viable Product Process?

Taru M. Taru M.
Published: 19 Aug, 2022

Did you know that Facebook, as we know it today, did not begin as a social media networking site? It was built as a networking system—like a directory—only for Havard students. This basic version of Facebook gained traction among university students and was later adopted by several other universities, eventually spreading worldwide. This was Facebook, one of the biggest social media networking platforms, MVP-Minimum Viable Product.

Not only Facebook but some of the most prominent digital business giants that we know today began from a basic version of their digital product or services—this could be as generic as the web design to encourage customers to engage. So what exactly is an MVP?

What is an MVP?

A Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a fundamental version of a digital product. This version, featuring only the essential features, is built to test the business hypothesis and introduce the essence of the product; for example, image sharing is the essence of Instagram. This fundamental version is rolled out with core features for the users to give feedback.

Believe it or not, rolling out Minimum Viable Product works wonders because when businesses are ready to listen to their target users’ needs and to make changes in their products, they are investing in a long-lasting relationship with their customers—not to forget the profits it will yield.

In other words, you might have an extraordinary business idea in your head, but what use would it be if your target users are not ready for it? Or your business idea might require considerable changes for users to take full advantage of your digital product or service.

The Minimum Viable Product concept was first used by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. According to Ries’ lean startup methodology, for a business to be successful, the MVP process and testing of business ideas in the target market is crucial as it enables iteration of the software based on customer feedback and incurs quick results at low costs.

Benefits of MVP Development

  • Economical

    Building an MVP doesn’t require the digital product owner to spend huge amounts of money. Since an MVP features only fundamental features of the desired digital product, its development must take no longer than 3-4 months to build.

    MVP development concept in software development is economical because the Minimum Viable Product seeks market validation of the business hypothesis at the beginning of the development process. It prevents the expenditure of resources on building products that customers don’t want.

    Therefore, you don’t have to incur massive developmental costs to build an MVP.

  • Attract Investors

    When you already have a functional MVP in the market, it enhances your credibility in the market. So when you pitch your digital product to a prospective set of investors, you provide figures (in terms of revenue, profits, and expected turnover trend) based on the performance of the MVP.

    Since you have already entered the market with your USP, it increases your chances of receiving funding. This is because you have customer and market validation of the digital product you aim to build.

  • Streamlines Development Process

    Building an MVP benefits the developing and designing team by giving a bird’s eye view of the digital product and the time it will take to develop the finished product.

    Motivates the software development team by giving them tangible and reliable results based on real user experience and feedback. It renders a direction to the team to work to enhance the value proposition of the digital product. It helps the development team adopt agile methodologies that best suit their business needs.

  • Testing the Market Dynamics

    Launching a Minimum Viable product version not only allows you to test the fundamental features of the digital product but also allows the business owner to test the waters before more capital is spent on developing the full-featured digital product.

    An MVP benefits you by helping you analyze the market trends with respect to your product and help you decide the future course of action and whether any iterations are required going further. Iterating products based on market trends and dynamics can help the business owner in increasing the market demand for the digital product.

  • Iterative Development

    Building an MVP first renders an intuitive approach to the entire digital product development process. It is because the product owners have the flexibility of iterating the product based on user feedback and building according to what their customers need. It helps the development team to adopt agile methodologies that best suit their business needs and customer needs.

So now we have established the boons of MVP development, what does an MVP development process entail? Where should one begin to ensure a successful MVP development process?

The MVP process development

MVP process development

  • Identify Your Objective

    Before jumping into the development process, ask yourself—what it is you want to achieve. What foundational ideas and customer needs do you want to address with your business model? For example, what is the fundamental idea if you want to build an app that enables users to rent cars?

  • Do Just Enough Research

  • After identifying your fundamental objective (Car Rental App), you must conduct thorough market research. Research and determine whether there truly is a need for the services you tend to offer and who will be your target users. Your competitors—address such questions while conducting your market research before developing Minimum Viable Product software. Although it is advisable not to get stuck in the research stage, do just enough research to help you build the MVP app.
  • Understand Your Core Product

    What would be the ‘must-have’ features of your product—the core features of your digital product (Car Rental App)? Identifying these will help you build a business hypothesis based on which you will develop your Minimum Viable Product App.

  • Build Your MVP

    After you have identified your fundamental objective, conducted thorough market research, and understood the digital product you wish to offer to the core, you are now ready to build your Minimum Viable Product based on your business hypothesis.

  • The Real Work Begins

    After the Minimum Viable Product launch, you have to engage with the MVP users to actively collect data based on their experience using the Minimum Viable Product (the data can be qualitative or quantitative).

What entails MVP project planning?

The project planning of Minimum Viable Product is crucial and is where most start-up founders make mistakes. Below are some tips to keep in mind that will take your digital product a long way.

  • Minimum Viable Product does not mean you should refrain from offering something competitive or challenging. It is always suggested to add some critical features which will make you stand out and might also become a differentiating factor of your digital product or services.
  • Offering something competitive and challenging also gives you an edge over your competitors and might give you years of advantage over them.
  • Consider the development of Minimum Viable Product a journey you might have to undertake multiple times. MVP product development is an ongoing process; you identify new challenges and implement them in your MVP to test, analyze and see whether they will yield results.
  • Rule of thumb: MVPs are not supposed to be perfect. Most start-up founders never get past the MVP stage because their business idea isn’t good enough but because they aren’t flexible enough. They get so engrossed in their business idea that they spend significant time and money building ‘the perfect’ MVP product but might fail to meet your target audience’s needs.
  • Initial MVP can simply be a landing page. This is why experts advise launching the MVP as soon as possible just to give your customers something to play with and get their feedback on it. After feedback, when you go back to the drafting stage, you won’t begin from scratch but will have a more refined vision of what your customers need from your digital product.
  • Another way to be flexible and to be able to pivot while keeping user satisfaction in mind is to build experiential prototypes along the way, i.e., testing multiple MVPs parallelly with similar core ideas. This approach makes pivoting less uncomfortable and considerably reduces MVP development costs.
  • MVP project planning

  • Iteration Is Important. Launching an MVP product quickly isn’t the end. Instead, continue improving, experimenting, and taking as many risks as possible in the MVP development stage. Read more about this below.
  • Don’t aim to start big with all the glim and glam; instead, focus on communicating with your customers—convey how your product aims to serve the target audience and how it will solve their problem.

Other than this, there are several things MVP developers have to be mindful of, such as:

  • Ensuring that your Minimum Viable Product aligns with your fundamental business objective.
  • Start working on negative feedback immediately and address the customer audience’s problems.
  • Based on the feedback, start preparing your development action—work on value proposition, user-friendly interface, enhance user experience, and so on.

MVP in Agile. What does it mean?

You can also work in agile, where constant interaction between developers and customers occurs. This enables developers to act quickly based on the feedback and perform quick iterations.

To put it simply, agile methodology work at the intersection of the target audience’s needs and the business goals of the start-up at the same time.

In essence, the development of MVP is agile. According to agile methodology, you manage your product development into manageable sprints to be able to make changes based on the market demand, user satisfaction, their actual requirements, and your digital product and services.

The agile methodology enables the product developers to take risks (an essential part of the MVP stage) with minimum wastage of time and resources. This also means that mobile app developers will have ample time and resources to efficiently test the business hypothesis throughout the development process.

Enough of Technical Knowledge, Now Let’s Get Real!

Did you know some of the biggest businesses (primarily digital businesses) that we know and are surrounded by began as an MVP and worked their way upwards from there?

  • Airbnb- Founders of Airbnb tested their business model by using their apartments to test peer-to-peer rental housing online schemes.
  • YouTube- Before YouTube became the world’s largest online video sharing platform, it was supposed to be a video-based online dating platform. The founders were just smart enough to pivot their way after realizing that their costumes’ needs lie elsewhere.
  • Dropbox- In 2007, Dropbox was far from ready to offer its cloud-based storage services to its customers. So, instead of providing customers with an essential service version, the founder released two explainer videos, which acted as the Minimum Viable Product.

Many examples and anecdotes serve as a clear-cut example of why developing a Minimum Viable Product is the intelligent way to build a digital product or service. Ultimately, it all comes down to a human-centered approach—a sure-shot way of keeping your customers interested in your product/services.

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Taru M. Author :
Taru M.

For over 18 years, Taru M. is a successful technology entrepreneur by profession and a tech enthusiast by spirit. She takes pride in offering expertise in her domain to business people's success across the globe. As a business woman and technology expert, she manages to keep her balance along with her family responsibilities. She did her masters in computers, and her work delivery shows the expertise of her education. Connect with her via Linkedin profile to know more about her exciting personality

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