Refining your idea to the core: How to determine which features belong in your MVP

In our earlier article, How an MVP approach to software development will save you time and money, we talked about what an MVP is and why it is important.

We also established that there are several benefits to launching an MVP – it will save you time and money, it helps you to get your product to market faster, there’s less risk involved and it allows you to test the product and gather feedback from early adopters.

But how do you determine which features belong in your MVP?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all MVP strategy but there are questions you can ask and points to consider that will help you to establish which features should be part of the first version of your product.

Here are our tips for determining which features belong in your MVP:

Get back to basics

The MVP should be the version of your software project that incorporates just the necessary features to deliver a working version, nothing more. Think you’ve refined your idea to its simplest form? Do it again.

For each element or feature you plan to include in your MVP, ask: “how can I make this idea work if I don’t build it?” If you can find another way to deliver it faster or more simply, do it. If you can do without it, cut it. Be ruthless and never stop looking for short cuts – not because you’re lazy but because your users don’t need more, because you don’t want to create more features and because you’re focused on delivering value.

Finishing Your Idea

Distinguish between the “must have” and “would be nice to have” features

What are the features that are critical to make your software product function and will allow you to get it to market quickly? Forget about the bells and whistles, for now, and focus on the features that will offer your users the most value. To determine what your “must have” features will be, you first need to define what the core value of your software product is. What purpose does it serve? What need does it fulfil? Then, list your required features in order of priority – which ones create the most value in the short term? Once you’ve established this, you can put the remaining features on hold and potentially include them in a future version of your product.

It’s important to determine which features will be essential but it’s equally critical to ensure that the features work. For example, if you launch a mobile app with only two features, make sure those two features are built well and facilitate the overall user experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your MVP can have incomplete features as doing so won’t allow you to gather genuine and accurate feedback to take your product to the next level.

How long will it take to launch your MVP?

One of the appealing aspects of the MVP is that it can launch quickly or within a short time frame. Can you forecast the amount of time it will take to build the first version of your software product? 

If it looks like your product will take several months, or even up to a year to launch, then you haven’t defined an MVP. Aim to build and launch your product within a few weeks or, at most, a couple of months. Spending any more time on this first version of your product means that you’re incorporating features more than is necessary to test your basic assumptions.

Looking to launch an MVP?

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.