Understanding Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is a scaffolding of your software that is well tested and validated on the market. Simply put, it is a product in the smallest form with basic features that define the ability to solve a user problem. An MVP is built to achieve faster time-to-market. It attracts early adopters and provides insight into allocating your budget to meet your business objectives. Creating an MVP is an iterative process to achieve product-market fit from early on.
Once the MVP is created, customer feedback is essential to know the success. Based on those feedback, the company will reiterate the software development to fix the bugs in the new cycle and roll out new features subsequently.
The Process Explained
The term MVP was coined in 2001 by Frank Robinson and then popularized by entrepreneurs Steve Blank and Eric Ries. They came up with this term while working on Customer Development and Validation segments. The term defines in the following way:
“A Minimum Viable Product is an elementary form of the product that enables development teams to gain maximum customer insights without putting rigorous efforts. “
In software application development, an MVP is a process of creating a new application with main features only to solve a specific problem and study how the early adopters would respond. Then, the building of an actual product or application with distinctive features after a series of iterations to better serve your customers.
For example, NYRR, a non-profit running organization, had the very basic system in place to reach out to the community of runners. A frontend website on Sitecore where users can see the races and buy those races while the checkout was being managed by the old .NET application. After strategic iterations & improvements basis on the successful acceptance by the users, the organization migrated the complete system to Sitecore to manage whole frontend in including the checkout process order to better serve the end-users, volunteers and NYRR itself.
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The MVP development approach allows for:
Hitting the market early to stand out in the competition
Enabling initial testing to check the product acceptance among the actual customers
Starting the production of a fully-fledged product that continuously integrates user feedback & suggestions
The step-by-step guide to planning a Minimum Viable Product
Planning out an MVP for your product idea is more than important to have clear visual points for reference. Startups that accelerate in the market progress 20 times faster than those that compete immaturely.
MVP development is done along the lines of software development. However, the speed and goals vary for creating an MVP.
Study Your Business Requirements
The initial step is to do market research for your product. According to a survey, one of the major reasons for unsuccessful startups was a lack of market research. Your product idea could be a business or a customer-specific need that fills the current gap. Moreover, it is important to study what your competitors are doing. This will help your product to gain a competitive edge in the market.
Long term goals
Once you’ve discovered why you need the product, set a long-term objective to accelerate its growth further in the long run. For example, XPO Logistics, a leading logistics and transportation service provider, had a long-term plan to transform into a logistics-as-service provider to help its employees, drivers, and technicians get their jobs done efficiently. For this, they wanted to develop a ‘universal connector’ software.
Next important thing is to define the success metric. The logistics service provider, for example, hit the success mark by developing a universal connector application that connects key components of the supply chain to bring efficiency into their logistics function. Also, the end-to-end integrated solution helps the organization to accomplish their objective to support new customers.
Map Out your User Journeys
The designing of your product is an important phase of MVP. Design your app in such a way that it is convenient for users to navigate. And it starts with mapping out the user journeys- how a user interacts with your application. This will help you envision how does your app work from the end users’ point of view, starting from opening an app to reaching an end such as making a final purchase. In addition, the user flow phase of the MVP ensures that you’re not skipping anything while considering the users’ perspective in mind.
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Important points to consider while creating a user journey
Find the end user
Who will be the actual customers (end users)? It might be possible that you will have different categories of users accessing the application. For example, if you run a salon app, you may have the actual customers who want to use the service and the salon experts.
Identify the Action (Jobs)
The jobs are basically the actions that a user takes to achieve a certain objective. While planning the MVP, you will look at the user having many jobs and focus on that user. However, keeping in mind the other priorities, you must pay attention at different users or even multiple users.
And determine the Story Endings
There must present a story ending that depicts the goal for each user. For example, booking an appointment.
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Create Profile Check hair styles Book appointment Checkout
Take hair cutting
Chalk out a Pain and Gain Map
Once the user flow is done, it’s time to create a pain and gain map for each user action. The approach helps you determine user pain areas and the gains the user achieves after those pain points are addressed. Through this map, you will get to know where you have the greatest potential to add value to the MVP and where you can scale further in future releases.
Stick to necessary features and prioritize them
At this point, you need to prioritize all the features that you aim to include in your MVP. To set priorities, ask questions like what users want vs what my users need to make your MVP successful. Is the product going to offer them something beneficial? Next important thing is to work on the remaining MVP features by dividing them into different priority levels: high priority, medium priority, and low priority. Make sure that working on too many user-centric features can affect the user experience and deviate from the overall purpose of the project. The only feature you should implement should connect with the overall objective of your product.
Exercise BML- Build, Measure, Learn
Every development is done on the basis of a process: first, defining the scope of work, moving the product into the development stage, testing, and market validation. In a similar manner, once the MVP is built, the product needs to be validated by the real customers. Testing engineers, who work on testing the product and uplifting the quality conduct the first testing stage. The next phase is collecting users’ feedback on the release. With customer responsiveness, they can gauge the acceptability and competitiveness of their product before hitting the market with full features.
Assessing how long it takes to build an MVP
The most important thing to consider is the scope of your project while estimating the time to build an MVP. The scope will drive the project duration and the budget. The scope should adhere to the MVP planning criteria which is to build essential features to satisfy the need of early adopters by solving the most important pain area. Study the market and pick up a niche customer segment and target them. Derive the most important problem and validate it with existing customers.
We at Icreon believe that 4-5 months is a reasonable time to build an MVP in most business cases. However, factors like the complexity of the features, designing, and technical resources who are engaged in the process play a crucial role in determining the time duration.
So, scoping is an important part of MVP creation. It keeps your efforts away from wrong product development and allows you to get to market faster with a minimum budget.
If you’re planning to bring next product idea to life, drop us a line to begin the journey.