Let’s imagine a situation: you are a hunter, you usually hunt with other people, and you’d like to know where the other hunters are so you accidentally don’t shoot someone.
What are the options?
- The first one is the standard safety measure – wearing a bright-colored jacket that would help you all stand out in the midst of the surroundings. But then, you will also be visible to your prey.
- The other option is to have walkie-talkies and discuss the clear positions of each person. Again, this would solve one problem, but cause another: your prey will hear you.
- What else can be done? Well, considering that almost everyone these days carries a smartphone in his or her pocket, it can be a convenient tool to use for this particular task.
So you think “Okay, I need an app that would track my location and find the location of other hunters on the map. Oh, and I’ll need to communicate with my team. And it would be great to keep a log of my hunting licenses, guns, and ammunition. Oh, and I’d love to see what hunting areas are near my home… if there is a hunting ground nearby, I would like to have an option to somehow arrange for hunting there. Oh yeah, it should also work offline somehow because the mobile connection isn’t always good…”
Are those features all good? Yes, they are.
Are they all necessary? Each of them carries a certain value.
Are they all critical to your initial idea? No.
Let’s look at such a concept as MVP and how it can help you save some money in the long run.
What is a minimum viable product?
The minimum viable product (MVP) is the initial version of your product that is focused on the main critical features.
For our example above, such a critical feature would be seeing your hunting partners on the map in relation to your location.
Starting with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is beneficial because it allows for a faster feedback loop and the ability to validate assumptions early on in the development process. By launching an MVP, you can gather feedback from users and make adjustments before investing a significant amount of time and resources into the project. Additionally, an MVP can help you test the market and gauge interest in your product before committing to a full-scale launch. This approach can help you make better decisions, reduce development costs, and ultimately increase the chances of success for your project.
Why shouldn’t you include other features right away?
- It might be too expensive to do everything at the same time
- It might take too much time (before you’ll be able to launch because if you include all those features, you need to design, develop, and test them all at the same time.)
- You might realize that perhaps some of the features are more needed at first and others and more of an additional good-to-have thing that can be added later. Or, you might realize that actually this particular app isn’t necessary at all and you get a much better idea of what you’d like to build. If you haven’t spent thousands of dollars and months of time on development yet, you can relatively easily pivot your business.
What are the advantages of an MVP for software systems?
There are several advantages to using an MVP approach for software systems:
Faster time-to-market: An MVP allows you to launch your product quickly and gather feedback from users early on in the development process. This can help you make adjustments and improve the product before a full-scale launch.
Reduced development costs: By launching an MVP, you can test your product with a limited feature set, which reduces the costs of development and allows you to make changes before committing to a full-scale launch.
Validated learning: An MVP allows you to test your assumptions with real users and gather feedback on the product’s usability and value. This can help you make better decisions and improve the product before a full-scale launch.
Increased chances of success: By launching an MVP, you can test the market and gauge interest in your product before committing to a full-scale launch. This can help you identify potential roadblocks and reduce the risk of failure.
Flexibility: MVP allows you to pivot or change direction if the feedback from the market and customer is not as expected.
Prioritizing features: MVP allows to focus on the most important features to attract and retain early adopters, and then as the product is used by more and more customers, new features can be added based on their needs and feedback.
What challenges can one face developing an MVP for a software product?
Developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for a software product can come with several challenges, some of which include:
Defining the MVP: Determining what features to include in the MVP can be difficult, as it needs to have just enough functionality to satisfy early customers and gather feedback for future development. Striking the right balance between functionality and simplicity can be challenging and requires teamwork and brainstorming.
Prioritizing features: Deciding which features to include in the MVP and which to hold off on can be difficult. It’s important to focus on the most important features that will attract and retain early adopters while keeping the product simple and easy to use. Notice that this point is both an advantage and a challenge: indeed, flexibility can help you put more attention to a particular feature but choosing what feature would be is hard.
Gaining user feedback: Gathering feedback from users and incorporating it into the development process can be challenging. It’s important to have a clear process in place for soliciting and incorporating feedback from users to ensure that the MVP meets their needs. You also should have a wide variety of people from your target audience and not just those, who would only provide positive feedback due to friendship or interest in innovations. It’s critical to avoid bias (as much as possible) in gathering feedback.
Managing expectations: Setting clear expectations with stakeholders and users about what the MVP can and cannot do can be challenging. It’s important to manage stakeholders’ expectations about the MVP’s capabilities to avoid disappointment.
Time and resource constraints: MVP development requires a limited feature set so it can be launched quickly, but it also requires a lot of resources and time to accomplish that. The challenge is to manage these constraints effectively to have a successful MVP launch.
Technical limitations: There can be technical limitations when developing an MVP, such as scalability, security, and data storage, that need to be taken into account. Another thing that you should consider in terms of technical limitations: some features require other features in order to work. Therefore, you might have to include more into your MVP in order for the primary feature to work correctly.
Balancing short-term and long-term goals: MVP development is focused on short-term goals, but long-term goals should not be forgotten. It’s important to balance the two and make sure the MVP is still aligned with the long-term vision of the product.
Is MVP the same as a prototype?
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and prototype are related concepts, but they are not exactly the same.
A version of a product that has just enough features to satisfy early customers and gather feedback for future development.
- MVP is a working product that can be released to the market.
- MVP allows testing the product with a limited feature set and gathering feedback from real users, which helps to validate assumptions and make adjustments before committing to a full-scale launch.
An early version of a product that is used to test and demonstrate the design and functionality of the product.
- It can be a physical or digital representation of the final product.
- often used to gather feedback from internal users and stakeholders before the final product is developed.
- Typically used for internal testing and development.
Check out more information about prototypes which we shared in another article of ours.
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