What Is a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)?
For many SMEs, the software development process can be intimidating. That’s unfortunate. It’s possible to develop and scale great digital products without dealing with overwhelming costs and other factors. The best way forward is to use an iterative process to define and create a minimum viable product (MVP).
Developing the MVP
What is a minimal viable product? In simple terms, it’s a product designed with minimum functionality to gauge interest, gain insights, and ultimately determine if it would be worth developing a more robust product. By doing this, you avoid spending too much time on the app or website development to create a product that goes nowhere.
Defining the Core Features
Your MVP should have a set of core features that will grab the interest of early adopters and potential investors.
The features required for your MVP to go live should do the following:
- Contribute to addressing a key problem
- Stay inside the scope of the project
- Remain a top priority feature
- Improve the user experience
- Help build a complete enough product to gain insights from stakeholders
It can help to center the MVP around a single problem to be solved. For example, a fully-developed eCommerce app might contain several modules, each with multiple functions to create a robust shopping experience. With an MVP, you would be focusing on a single set of functions to solve one core problem.
In the end, your finished product should contain exactly what it needs to allow the users to complete a necessary task, nothing less and nothing more.
Building an MVP Roadmap
Before you even release your MVP (V. 1.0), you will already have a list of features and functions to add in the future. That’s great, but you’ll need to prioritize those features and create a roadmap to drive future development. These will be your epics.
Setting Priorities For Future Development
If your MVP was successful, you should have received good feedback on desired features, problems, and opportunities. Now it’s time to prioritize those. There are a couple of ways to approach this. Your first option is to place each feature request into one of four quadrants.
- Low Effort High Impact
- High Effort High Impact
- Low Effort Low Impact
- High Effort Low Impact
One drawback here is that it can be challenging to determine the amount of effort without insights from a tech team.
You can also use the bucket method. Here, you will place each feature in one of three buckets:
- Must Have
- Nice to Have
- Not Needed
Some teams find this method a bit too black and white, with many features falling neatly between buckets.
Finally, there’s the Kano method. This user-driven method helps prioritize features. Customers are asked how they would feel if a feature were present and how they would feel if it weren’t. Developers use those answers to give each component one of five priorities. The drawback is that this method doesn’t consider system capabilities.
The Technical Architect
Once you have set priorities, you can take the epics to a technical architect. However, this doesn’t mean that development will start right away. Remember that at this point, all prioritization has been based on either end-user perceptions or a cost-benefit analysis. The architect will have new insights to add to this.
The architect will have the expertise to help identify system limitations, dependencies, and potential roadblocks. Their input could result in adjusting priorities, even excluding some things from consideration. For example, a Shopify integration feature could be a top priority, but not possible due to system limitations.
A minimum viable product is a helpful tool in gauging the usefulness and marketability of a digital offering. However, the process involved is often more complex than brands expect.
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