A minimum viable product is the bare minimum functionality that will give you what you need, for the time being. If we were talking about custom home building, the MVP might be four walls and a roof.
When you are thinking about what your minimum viable product will be, you should ask yourself, “Could my users still get value from my product without this feature?” If the answer is yes, MVP says to put that feature on the shelf for the moment.
Don’t worry, though. Sidelining these features doesn’t mean you’ll never see them. It just means that your initial release is laser focused on solving a specific problem and you’ve prioritized what is most important out of the gate. Later, once you’ve gotten feedback or a larger budget, you can add these features to your software.
In our experience with minimum viable product, these are the things we think you should consider when you set out to define your MVP:
Let’s start at the end.
If you’re looking for new software, you’re looking to solve a problem, right? Well, what exactly is that problem? What goal is this new software going to achieve for you?
“I need a place to stay dry” might be the main goal for a custom home that would result in an MVP of four walls and a roof.
“If you build it, they will come” – right? Maybe. You need to get to know your audience before you can be sure they’ll be attracted to your new software/app.
By creating user persona profiles, you can identify the age, gender, habits, pain points, etc. of your users, and that invaluable information will ultimately lead you to choose a minimum viable product with features tailored to these folks.
You wouldn’t build your dream home without considering who else would be living in it, would you?
Make a List, Check It Twice
Now that you know your end goal and you’re familiar with your users, it’s time to create a comprehensive list of every last feature you’d like to see your software have…eventually.
Once you have your huge list of wants, remembering your users and end goal, go through each one (with your development team) and tick off what you’ve just got to have and what can wait. If you’ve identified specific users, you can take this list to them and ask their opinion on what they’d most like to see right out of the gate. They may even give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of yet.
The same rules can be applied in custom home building. If you’re writing down your list of must-haves, consulting with your users (spouse and kids) is a must. After all, they’ll be living there, too… and they outnumber you.
Time & Money
Budget and timeline are real constraints that call for real consideration. Before you can define your minimum viable product, you need to determine your realistic timeline and set a solid budget. Leave a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses and hang-ups, but be as honest with yourself and your development team at this stage as possible.
If your software needs to be completed in no longer than six months, but your feature list has eight months’ worth of work on it, you’ll need to rethink your MVP. Similarly, if your project budget is already tight, insisting on features that aren’t crucial is counter-productive. Go ahead and remove those features and come back around to them when the time and money are there.
If you need to be moved into your new home in 6 months, adding landscaping to the list of must-haves might have a negative impact on the length of the homebuilding process. Likewise, if you’re counting pennies to pay for your custom-built home, consider doing away with the granite countertops for the time and install them later, when the budget is there.
Minimum Viable Product
Consider adopting the philosophy “aim small, miss small” in your next product launch. Get laser focused on who your user is, the primary problem you are trying to solve, and the fewest features needed to provide value. Then create a product that does exactly that.
Let your users guide you to the next step until you better understand what their true needs are.
When you’re ready to define your MVP, give us a call. We’d love to talk to you about your ideas and how we can help you achieve your custom software goals like we’ve done with people like you for nearly 20 years.
Resource: The Anatomy of a Software Development Timeline
Make sure you’re fully prepared for your custom software project by learning about the phases each project goes through and the time it takes to complete each one. We’ve put everything you need to know about software development timelines in this handy eBook below.