How To Get To MVP1 Quickly!

How To Get To MVP1 Quickly!

Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology, 0

An IIT Bombay alumnus, Anurag has been associated with Wissen for over five years now, prior to which he has handled key roles across companies that include Geometric, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Morgan Stanley and MSCI.

In today's development landscape, the concept of an MVP has gained a firm foothold. It is a common practice, especially because of the focus on continuous improvement and consistent growth of software products. An MVP becomes the best way to validate a business idea and provide a proof of concept. While MVPs were associated primarily with startups, today, owing to pressing market conditions and budget cuts, even established organizations look towards MVP to test the waters. However, the failure to launch a product idea fast can make sure that it ends-up in the graveyard of ideas, prototypes, and MVPs that never saw the light of day.

An MVP is the simplest form that can be compared to a POC (Proof of Concept). It is a smaller version of the product designed with limited features. The key objective of building an MVP is for market validation and to evaluate the sentiments it evokes with the target audience before adding in the time intensive and costly elements. Getting a smart MVP out in time can give organizations a tremendous boost. You only need to see how Zappos moved from an MVP to a fully functional business idea. Zappos was later acquired by Amazon for a whopping $1.2 billion.

So, what can organizations do to get MVP-1 out into the market quickly?
Why Do You Need An MVP?
An MVP validates learning with the least effort. It is a sure-shot way to test a product with the users with-out committing a large budget to full development. It helps in building understanding of what does and doesn't resonate with the target audience and release the product into the market as quickly as possible.

The `build measure learn' approach of MVP development helps in validating assumptions on who to target, what design principles to follow, what marketing strategy to use, which architecture is the most efficient, and which monetization strategy works in the best interest of the product. Developing an MVP is an iterative process. It is based on identifying user pain points and determining the functionalities needed to address those over time by continuously testing assumptions against user feedback and making product changes as the information presents itself as a guide for this iterative loop.

Focus on the 'Minimum'
An MVP, as the label says, is the product in its smallest and least featureful avatar. It hosts only those functionalities that are most essential to demonstrate product value and how it solves a particular problem. An MVP, as Eric Ries describes, is that version of a new product that allows organizations to collect validated learning about customers with the least possible effort.

To get an MVP out quickly, it is essential to build the product with core functionalities and minimum features, only enough to test market response. Once this validation is completed, the actual product development starts with the full set of features after a series of iterations based on feedback generated from early adopters.

The MVP helps in collecting quality feedback by targeting specific user groups to test hypotheses while minimizing errors. Its objective is to find the right balance between what the business is offering versus what the users want.
Look for Domain Expertise
Domain expertise is exceptionally important to launch an MVP fast into the market. Domain expertise is the essential knowledge and understanding of a specific field of inquiry, the business, its influencers, and the environment in which the product is expected to operate. It contributes immensely to MVP product design and helps organizations make the right choices when it comes to features and functionalities development. Domain experts can take a one-line product idea and help organizations develop a fully functional MVP based on it, given the depth of their experience and expertise.

Getting domain experts to become a part of the MVP team is a great idea to make sure that a truly 'minimum'but impactful version of the product can be launched in the market with the right features and functionalities

Getting domain experts to become a part of the MVP team is a great idea to make sure that a truly 'minimum' but impactful version of the product can be launched in the market with the right features and functionalities that will drive product adoption. While it might be tempting to build the MVP with the newest and most shining technology, it pays to remember that 'new' doesn't always equate to 'right'.

The newest, brightest, and shiniest technology might be attractive, but might not be the right choice for the product. Evaluating the technology stack and comparing how it works with legacy technologies is also an important consideration point. This is so as many organizations still have infrastructures and legacy technology running mission critical and business impacting processes. The MVP has to use technologies that can interact with these legacy systems without impacting the business.

The technology choices hence should be based on the needs of the product and the domain that the product will operate in. An MVP helps validate if, for example, technologies such as the cloud, creating a cloudbased MVP or looking at cloudbased development suits the product need. It helps in testing the assumptions to optimize the development environment as well to drive faster development.

Keep The Time Target
Keeping the time target assumes critical importance when developing an MVP. While developing minimum and impactful features is important to develop an MVP, it is equally important to note that the prototype is not of low quality. It should be able to satisfy user requirements even in the absence of certain features. The objective when developing an MVP is to learn of customers' needs, get feedback and evaluate the risks of launching the entire product into the market. The whole process should be repeatable so that product development can happen iteratively and ensure that the organizations can keep the time target.

To keep this time target and make use of market opportunities, building an MVP should also involve considerations such as evaluating the development environment to see if it is repeatable. The focus should also be on developing demoable features and not single features within a specific time-frame for timely course correction.

The objective behind launching an MVP is to see if the product idea sticks. If it doesn't, it's back to the drawing board with information of what didn't work and why. Failure while building an MVP isn't a challenge. It is proof that an idea was validated well.

While embarking on the MVP journey, it is essential to remember that time is of the essence, and not full-blown features. Since this is a step to test an idea, one must pay close attention to the 'minimum' part of the MVP and ensure that the features and functionalities are impactful enough to hook the audience. With the right development partner on your side, the road to success becomes easier to tread on.