Posted by Molly on Aug. 3, 2018, 10 a.m.
A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding MVP
If you're in the early stages of choosing a partner to build a new software product, you may have heard potential partners refer to an approach that utilizes an MVP.
MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a method of developing software that prioritizes getting a simple version of your product released as soon as possible, gathering feedback, and then iterating on that product based on real-world feedback. This process emphasizes continual improvement and frequent demos of the evolving product.
Building an MVP means building the absolute minimum product that will produce value for your company. An MVP does not mean releasing an incomplete product, but rather releasing a completely functional product that can be continually improved based on the feedback of real users. The early and frequent feedback from real users is one of the most valuable advantages of MVP, because it can prevent you from wasting time and energy on features that your users don't need or won't use.
Okay, that’s all well and good but what does that actually mean for my project?
Let's assume your business objective is to feed your customer. Think of your product like a meal. You probably know what kind of meal you want to make. MVP necessitates a lot of discovery at the beginning of your project, and will continue throughout development. Before we get started on development, we identify assumptions, and we challenge them. We’ll ask questions like:
- Why do you want to make that kind of meal?
- Why do your customers want that specific meal?
- How do customers order and eat your meal?
- Have you made that kind of meal before?
- Have you done research on what types of meals your customers usually order?
- What kinds of meals do competing restaurants offer?
- Can we watch someone order a meal from you?
Can’t we talk about it later? I just want to know how expensive this will be.
Discovery is when we work with you to develop a starting recipe, and make sure it makes sense to offer to your customers. You don’t want to be months into development on the best burger when you realize that most of your customers are vegetarian. Investing time in discovery before you start development means a smoother development process, and a more accurate expectation of effort to complete the project.
We’ve done discovery. Now what?
Now that we’ve collected all of your assumptions about your customers and put them to the test, we’re in pretty good shape to start iterating on your recipe. One of the most important parts of this process is transparency. We’re not disappearing for months and then appearing with a plated dish that you can’t change. We’ll want to arrange regular “taste-testing” with you and your customers throughout the process.
Launching Your MVP
If you're producing a sandwich, MVP does not mean you launch with bread on a plate. You start with a complete sandwich with meat and cheese. You're releasing a complete product that meets the minimum requirements for your objective - feeding the customer. As you iterate post-launch, you work on achieving that goal better, based on feedback from real users, not your assumptions about their needs. Maybe your customers want better ingredients, faster service, or vegetarian options. Maybe the quality of the ingredients is perfectly acceptable, but they want extra condiments.
MVP allows you to get the feedback from users much earlier, and encourages you to make quick adjustments to your product based on that feedback, before expanding what you offer. A year after launch, your meal may include much more than it did at launch, but the sandwich will still be recognizable as the core product. Even if the combination or quality of ingredients changes as you iterate, the structure is roughly the same. You start by feeding the customer, and then you make the experience of eating more enjoyable to the customer by listening to their feedback.
Do you have hungry customers? Want to figure out what part of your product can be released early as an MVP? Talk to us about your idea and we can help! Our team specializes in custom software development using Agile and MVP to get your product into the hands of real users and providing value to your company as soon as possible.