Minimum Viable Product (MVP): what is it for and how to do it right?

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an earlier version of the product, its simplest working prototype, which has the minimum necessary functionality to meet customer needs.

What is it for? The main value of MVP is that it allows you to do market research for customer demand and get feedback from real users spending a minimum of time and resources. It becomes possible to regularly upgrade the product to meet the real user needs at the stage of development. Thus, to provide them with what they really want to get.

MVP definition

MVP goals and process features

Creating a new product you might probably come up with many hypotheses that need to be checked. Some of them will be wrong, and some will be successful. But you can learn this only in practice. Functions, which will turn out to be really valuable for users, and those, to be considered as secondary ones, could be figured out only in action.

Any project starts with a concept, but chaos happens already at the stage of brainstorming. You think, you can introduce a function, add one more, and then come up with a couple of other ideas, as well as adopt some interesting ideas from your competitors’ projects…

The bottom line is that it is necessary to focus first. Form a simple concept and understand what is worth starting in the first place. Most often, this is literally one or two functions that solve specific problems. Also called in IT slang as “killing features”.

Here is an example. Let’s say we have an idea of a web service in which users can store links to various sites and articles as bookmarks. Its functionality can be quite extensive:

  • creating bookmark collections by topic;
  • saving the page content within the service, in case it is deleted;
  • favorites selection;
  • authorization through social networks;
  • backup in the Cloud (DropBox or Google Drive);
  • collection export function;
  • notes adding option;
  • client application for desktop and mobile OS.

Now, imagine that you start working on all these things at the same time, and plan the launch only after all functions complete implementation. It can take months and even years for development!

A much better solution is to highlight the key function, implement it and immediately show the first release to the potential audience. In our case, this will be the ability to save the bookmarks, and that is our MVP. Thus, it can take just a few weeks from the idea to the first release!

From idea to release - how to build

Sure, all other functions listed are very important too, but the priority is precisely the goal to enter the market. To create an MVP and launch the project right away is a much better solution than trying to add a few more add-ons, delaying the release, and then watching how a similar product is already being launched by one of the competitors.

That is to say, an MVP is a process. You define the hypothesis, check it fast and make the necessary changes based on the feedback received. Then, you start this cycle over. Here is how this approach is seen in Spotify:

Spotify MVP Models

How to create a good MVP?

Before you get started, you need to prepare. So that, you and your team not to be moving at an impressive speed, but in the wrong direction.
Here are some tips to help you with MVP creation:

  • analyze the existing market. Find similar products and figure out their value. Then, think what you can do differently and much better;
  • define the project’s main idea, and then the function that expresses it best. Starting from this, remove all the secondary options, they can wait;
  • set a time limit, this should be a period of a month or two, which will allow you to even more meaningfully approach the prioritization process;
  • choose the fastest way. Hypothesis testing can be carried out in different ways, and your task is to choose the fastest one;
  • think through the iteration process. Feedback from users is needed to make the product better. And you must be ready to make changes at a quick pace;
  • use Agile’s flexible methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban. They will allow you to improve the product, adjusting it to the customer preferences.

Start from a simple problem solution, then, develop it, gradually solving larger tasks. Always keep in mind the main issue that needs to be solved. The final product is the sum of previous successful MVP implementations.

Let’s sum up the results

Even a small project can cost a lot and eventually require a number of resources to be implemented. If it is not successful, you will lose money, time and, in the end of the day, will be disappointed. That’s why it’s worth using MVP as a quick way to test any idea.

The earlier you find errors in your assumptions, the less time you spend on useless, unnecessary things. The only condition to be followed is that MVP should transmit your idea as accurately as possible so that you would be confident that users understood the concept you wanted to convey.

Focus on the main thing, and good luck with the launch of new projects!

Volodymyr Fedorychak
Volodymyr Fedorychak
Digital Marketing Specialist at Lvivity