You may have heard the term “minimum viable product” in regard to startup companies, but how does the concept fit into a mobile app or custom software development project? MVP is part of Lean or the Lean Startup methodology, but it can be used to complement the Agile approach to software development.
The Agile development process emphasizes decision-making based on delivering working software. Lean poses the question, Is there sufficient demand for the product? while Agile asks, does the product work? Together, they lead to more successful development.
To gauge whether a software solution will resonate with users, one option is to develop a minimum viable product. Here is a basic breakdown of the definition of MVP.
- Minimum – Emphasis on core, basic features, or focus on a particular feature rather than developing the full product up front.
- Viable – The product must have enough quality and functional appeal to show value to customers and indicate whether or not they will adopt it.
On the one hand, this approach is not about delivering the least amount of functionality possible. To the other extreme, it is not a solution for developing the maximum possible functionality for a severely limited budget. Instead, perhaps you just need to clarify a product direction and want to test the market for a particular core functionality. An MVP allows your business to limit available features in order to optimize the use of resources while gauging the demand and need for your product or platform.
Let’s cover some common MVP misconceptions and outline the purpose of a minimum viable product.
Common MVP Misconceptions
To start, a minimum viable product is not an easy solution to shorten the development timeframe or save on development costs.
Additionally, a minimum viable product is not:
- A small, functional product
- A proof of concept or feasibility test
- A Lite/Alpha/Beta version of the project
- The final product
It is not a way to “cut corners” or rush to production. Minimum viable products can save your business money, but it might not be in the way that you think. The goal is to gather feedback, confirm your value proposition and validate the necessity of your project.
Perhaps your business has a restricted development budget. You won’t want to exhaust your resources until you are sure of the demand and confident that your product could deliver. This example would be a great opportunity to utilize an MVP. Instead, if you are hoping that an MVP could extend your development project until you can afford a complete solution, the results will be poor.
You wouldn’t want to get into the middle of a development project and realize you don’t have the funds necessary to complete the project. Additionally, you’ll want to account for regular updates and maintenance when evaluating the total cost of a development project.
In summary, MVPs can be less expensive, insofar as they allow businesses to test the product, verify user demand and make sure it fits their needs. It is not a way to cut costs by reducing quality, shortening the development timeline and somehow still ending up with a fully functioning product. If you are considering an MVP as a way to avoid development challenges, your business might not be ready to undergo a development project.
How to Successfully Implement a Minimum Viable Product
The end goal of your development project should be
- A working mobile app or piece of custom software, that
- Successfully generates demand by
- Fulfilling a need
- And delivers a positive ROI
An MVP is just a stepping stone or one piece of the development process. The big picture is that you are working toward launching a full, complete product or software solution. MVPs simply allow you to gather feedback and test the concept before going “all in.”
While there will definitely be room for continued development and improvement, this initial adoption or rejection phase will reveal key insights. Regardless of how innovative your concept is, you won’t want to disregard the feedback that you do receive — In fact, the feedback you gather is the whole point. In the end, you will either move forward with the product, shift focus, or determine that there is not a current need for your product. Then you can either go back to the drawing board or table the project until a new need arises.
If you want to determine whether users will accept your product as a valuable solution, it could be worth considering a minimum viable product. However, if there are other barriers to development, your business might be better off delaying custom software development until you can allocate the necessary time and resources to the project.
At SevenTablets, we conduct discovery sessions with our clients to determine their business needs and define ROI for their project, prior to development. This ensures that their custom-tailored solution will not only meet, but exceed expectations. We want your software development project to continually deliver value — whether that is through process optimization, reducing inefficiencies or driving revenue for your business.
In addition to mobile app and custom software development, our Dallas-based team specializes in ERP solutions, cloud and system integrations, CRM platforms, data governance and more. To discuss your development project, reach out to our team today.