This is where Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can help. We at MindK develop custom software solutions for companies from startups to large enterprises and see the advantages our clients get from developing MVP. Among them are reduced costs, faster time to market, the ability to validate assumptions, and much more.
However, to reap the benefits and build a successful MVP, it’s very important to understand the MVP meaning and clear up a few popular misconceptions. By the end of the article, you’ll know what MVP is all about and clear up the common illusions related to it.
What does MVP mean and what is it about?
Agile methodology is quite popular in the world of software development. Its value becomes more significant within a fast-changing business environment, and we reviewed this when discussing the role of an Agile mindset in times of turbulence.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is one of the main concepts in Agile methodology. The MVP concept is quite simple: it represents the basic version of a new product possessing enough features to satisfy customers and collect maximum feedback.
The truth is that all you have is pure assumptions in the initial stages of software development: you assume there is a need for a solution, you assume you know how to solve it in the most effective way, you assume that your product will beat competitors and so forth. As a result, some of your assumptions are right, yet a lot of assumptions are often far apart from the truth.
Frequently the power of market validation is often underestimated. MVP product on the contrary, allows validation of your beliefs of the market in the most affordable way – deliver an idea to early adopters and avoid uninformed decisions.
Let’s take an example from everyday life – a smartphone, for instance. Can you call a smartphone an MVP? Hardly, as it is far from the minimum.
In this case, a Minimum Viable Product is a voice communication device, a predecessor of the phone, which had a separate handset and a microphone. Back in the 19th century, it impressed society, as it satisfied the compelling need to talk to each other at a distance.
The telephone has travelled a long way to become an essential part of our lives, full of extra features allowing us to call, text, read, play, access the Internet, work, take photos, and so on.
In this light, MVP, as business term, stands for:
Minimum: a basic set of features and capabilities which are…
Viable: provides a value to the customers, so that they are ready to pay money, and a …
Product: ready to use today.
Concluding the above-mentioned thoughts, the main goals of Minimum Viable Product are to reduce costs, avoid waste of time and resources on creating an ineffective and irrelevant solution.
For businesses, MVP provides an opportunity to test assumptions, improve the development process, and successfully enter the market. And, as a result – saving budget, staying ahead of competitors, meeting customer needs, and increased profits.
Because of these benefits and the fact that it helps companies deal with a number of problems, we at MindK believe that MVP is a great way to start up a software product. Most of our clients develop their solutions from the Minimum Viable Product. One example is Bridge, an operating system for global hiring. In just three months, we built an MVP of the system that provides a full cycle of services needed to open and manage a remote office with no headache. Now the system is collecting feedback from potential customers and investors in order to improve the solution further.
Top 5 myths about MVP definition busted
In spite of the fact that MVP has become a trendy word in the tech world, it gradually turned into a misleading concept. Here at MindK, we also noticed that not all clients completely understand the MVP approach. That is why we’ve singled out the five most common myths that will clear up all the misconceptions:
Myth #1: MVP is all about making a profit
It’s wrong! Do not consider MVP meaning in business as a silver bullet for making money. If you start developing a Minimum Viable Product to gain quick profit, you are going to be disappointed.
Sure, MVP might bring the primary earnings but it’s not the major purpose. It is aimed to test the idea on the market. Get the feedback, analyze it and learn how to improve your solution. If everything is done right, profit won’t be long in coming.
Myth #2: MVP is about time-to-market
Incorrect! Speedy delivery to the market is often overemphasized, especially when it is opposed to focusing on market acceptance. Yes, speedy development is essential, but only in the context of obtaining data quickly and further improving the product.
Myth #3: MVP’s design is aimed to impress
Wrong again! You should consider MVP as a full-featured solution at the very first stage of its design and development. It means it is aimed to solve customer problems with very basic design and functional MVP features. In short, Minimum Viable Product is more of a balance between usability and efficiency.
Myth #4: MVP is supposed to be an end product
Sometimes when a client requests an estimation, they say something like “My budget is limited so I need an MVP,” meaning a full-blown app containing some extra features. This is incorrect. MVP is just a basis for launching entrepreneurship. It is the entry point for your journey to the winning digital solution.
Myth #5: MVP is relevant for startups only
MVP approach doesn’t only work for startups. It can also be easily applied to developing custom solutions for large enterprises. The main reason MVP technology might be a good fit for enterprise software is the fact that such products are often complicated and changes pose serious risks.
Minimum Viable Product concept presupposes small and incremental changes that are safe and allow introducing new functionality or upgrades without causing inconvenience.
This is a substantial advantage of Agile, an iterative process, compared to Waterfall, a traditional approach with clearly defined stages. We’ve reviewed both approaches in detail in our comparison of Agile and Waterfall, so check it out to learn more.
However, besides Minimum Viable Product development, there are several other ways to begin the process of learning. Among them are prototype, Proof of Concept, and Minimum Lovable Product (MLP). But what is the difference between them?
MVP vs PoC, Prototype, and MLP – what is the difference?
The first thing you should understand about all these concepts is that they represent several different software product stages.
Proof of concept (POC) is an important step when it comes to complex and therefore costly projects. It gives a clear idea of whether the idea is feasible and how to implement it. The main goal of PoC is to gather enough data to answer key questions on whether an idea has practical potential and should be attempted.
Key benefits of PoC in software development:
- Helps save time and money by identifying which concepts do not work.
- Gains a competitive advantage because PoC provides more assurance that an idea can be brought to life.
- Allows choosing the right technology right from the start.
The prototype is a draft version of the solution focused more on its user experience (UX) and semantics. In short, it is an actual representation of an idea that you can test and obtain feedback.
These phrases (PoC, prototype, and MVP) may appear to be synonymous, however, actually refer to separate stages of growth. The first phase is to create a PoC, which is then followed by a prototype. The proof of concept validates the product’s feasibility, and a prototype is produced once the feasibility is validated. The prototype is then followed by building a Minimum Viable Product.
This was exactly the way we developed a melody search engine. With an idea to create an intuitive melody search tool MindK team firstly built a Proof of Concept. It was a robust Progressive Web Application (PWA) that performed great on various devices. After the tool was highly praised by the public, we moved right to creating MVP – a feature-rich web app together with mobile applications for iOS and Android. Today it has thousands of active users who claim that this extremely intuitive and engaging app has revolutionized their concept of discovering melodies. Based on user feedback, we keep on improving the application and create even more pleasure from melody search.
Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) is also often called Minimum Awesome Product (MAP), both notions mean exactly the same. Similar to MVP, Minimum Loveable Product is a simple version of a valuable solution ready to be introduced on the market. Unlike the MVP, Minimum Loveable Product is aimed to bring delight to customers so they admire and recommend it to others. If you recall, MVP doesn’t aim to amaze users, but to bring a minimum set of valuable Minimum Viable Product features.
Thus, the idea of MLP is focused on validating that the customers LOVE the product and will willingly tell their friends about it.
When there is no competition in the market, your MVP with fewer features and a simple design will turn into the MAP by default. However, if competition is high, then MVP may not be enough. You need to attract users with lovable designs and smart features.
The hardest thing about building MLP is that there is neither one single methodology to create a Minimum Lovable Product, nor a universally applicable standard showing how MLP should look like. In part, this is because MLP is based more on the emotions of people than the MVP.
[BONUS] Three main tips to know before building MVP
Based on our experience working with developing software projects following Agile methodology, we determined three things that you should know before you move forward to building an MVP. Here they are:
#1. MVP involves a limited set of features, but make sure the “minimum” is not winning over the “viable”
If you start focusing on minimizing the set of features, you may fall into the trap of excluding features critical to the end-user. As a result, your minimal set of functionality might cover neither the needs of your customers nor the business goal of your product.
Minimum Viable Product is not only about figuring out the smallest set of features, but also about making sure you can help with the main problem of your customers.
#2. Viable means it solves a valuable problem of the customers and provides validated learning for you
According to “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, validated learning is “a small unit of progress that can be quickly verified to determine whether a chosen direction is correct.” The lack of validated learning flavored with the incomprehension of how to receive it may result in a common trap many entrepreneurs fall into. They believe that building a product quickly based on the half-cooked and premature prototype can get them somewhere. But it can’t.
Creating a quick and bad-quality product should never be called an MVP. In such a case, you won’t be able to learn from it. You can’t understand the reason why it failed: was it because of a bad idea or because the implementation destroyed the idea?
#3. MVP is never an end product as it aims to start the process of learning.
Entrepreneurs create MVP to test assumptions in their business model, receive feedback, make required improvements, and proceed to build a new iteration of MVP in order to test the next hypothesis. It is called the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop that lies at the heart of building great software products.
In this manner, building a Minimum Viable Product is an iterative process. The goal of the MVP development is to begin the process of learning, not to end it.
Ready to start building your Minimum Viable Product?
Every business wants to make sure they develop a product people need and are ready to pay for. So, Minimal Viable Product is a substantial step for every business to test whether you are going in the right direction and for enterprises to avoid excessive project complexity.
A real MVP is one that serves customers first, solves a particular problem, is easy to launch at short notice, and has an easy-to-navigate user experience. So, eventually, analyze your basic solution and if it doesn’t fit the description above, then the product is likely neither a minimum nor viable.
If you are ready to start, then check out our guide on how to build a Minimum Viable product in six simple steps, or just fill in your details so that our specialist gets back to you to answer all the questions you have about developing your own MVP.