The minimum viable product (MVP) approach allows you to minimise your risk, test your assumptions and continuously improve by developing your software iteratively.
When it comes to software development, the minimum viable product is a software product that incorporates just the necessary features to deliver a working version, nothing more.
An MVP often allows you to launch a software project faster, more affordably and with less risk than the full version.
It will force you to define your software project’s must-have features that offer value to your users, while setting aside the features that are desirable but not essential to get it to market.
Entrepreneur and author of The Lean Startup Eric Ries defines the MVP as “the version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”.
Think of it as the version of the product that works, but doesn’t delight users. A common analogy is if the brief is to build a car, your MVP would be a skateboard or a scooter.
Some examples of MVP software projects include:
Entrepreneurs or managers within a business looking to build a software project may be faced with limited resources and launching an MVP proves why you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) start with building a big, complex product.
You also wouldn’t want to put yourself in the position of having an idea for a product, going off and building it, putting it out to the public and not a single person signs up, clicks through or shows an interest in it.
That’s why starting with the MVP is so important in business, because it allows you to take the smarter, gentle approach and use the experience to evaluate what your next step will be.
The key is that your MVP should serve as a starting point that focuses on meeting the highest impact need first. For example, if you identify five big features, focus on the one or two that will deliver most of the benefit first. Once your MVP has launched and that need has been met, you can talk to customers to find out what they liked about your product and why they liked it. The important point is that you get your project out there quickly so you can gather the feedback you need to refine the product you’re offering.
Are you faced with the constraints of limited resources? Perhaps you’re a small team or a sole operator. An elaborate software project could take years to build and gain momentum. Even a humble idea for an app could take much longer to create than you anticipate. And in the meantime, your product misses the mark or becomes irrelevant. Mature software products like Facebook or Google’s search engine didn’t begin where they’re at now – they’ve required millions of lines of code, thousands of developers and years of continually improving and evolving their product. Begin with the leanest form of your project, identify the elements that will get the job done and just get it to market.
If you have a limited budget to work with, launching an MVP is the way to go. Build what you can now, with the resources you have. Just because your app, website or software service doesn’t have all the bells and whistles now, doesn’t mean the future version of it can’t. Building the MVP also means you won’t waste money launching a product that doesn’t sell.
Starting with an MVP allows you to see how your software project will gain momentum and acceptance among users before you spend time and money on implementing additional features. If the MVP fails, you can halt development and reassess if the product needs to be altered to better suit your user base or, if it’s not working at all, terminated. Creating an MVP takes significantly less time, resources and money than building the full version of the product and prevents you from designing features that won’t benefit your users.
Launching the MVP allows you to test the product and see where it will work as interest and feedback from early adopters may bring important information to light that wasn’t previously considered. For example, users of your product may like the functionality and practicality of your MVP web app but the design does nothing to inspire continued use. You could consider options for integrating a more attractive design to give the app a modern and aesthetic appeal.
User feedback will also be incredibly valuable as early adopters can test your product for bugs and suggest improvements or new features.
Do you need help getting your software project off the ground? Curious to know more about an MVP option for your idea? Give inoutput a call on (03) 9016 3066 or send us details about your project via our contact form.
Posted by Mat Hollingsworth
Thu, 04 Aug 2016
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