How to Create a Successful MVP Development Strategy
You have a stellar idea for a product. It will take the world by storm and set your company on a path to success. But bringing that product to market is a complex—and often expensive—process, involving extensive research, testing, manufacturing, marketing, and delivery. And there’s no guarantee that the audience will be there once the product does hit the market.
Enter the minimum viable product (MVP)—a methodology that involves development of a prototype with just enough features to give a potential audience a taste of your vision. It allows you to spot user pain points and correct for them, at a fraction of the cost of a fully developed product. You also have an opportunity to test pricing, messaging, and a variety of other factors that all contribute to the success of the full product’s eventual launch.
Why Do I Need an MVP Development Strategy?
An MVP development strategy provides maximum value with minimum cost and time. There are several reasons that this can be helpful:
- You will get a deeper profile of your end user and the broader market.
- You will get a clearer sense of the benefits and flaws of your process. This allows you to create a more effective road map with which to iterate future versions of your product.
- You can display your company’s overall business potential, building positive word of mouth and stakeholder support.
An MVP can demonstrate the value of your product, garner support from internal teams and external investors, and line up funding for future endeavors.
Know Your Market
For an MVP development strategy to be truly effective, it must help answer one basic question—does the marketplace actually need your product? You need to recognize whether or not the business community will benefit from it or if consumers are clamoring for it. What have your competitors developed that is similar? What makes your product stand apart?
Once you’re assured that an audience is waiting just behind the curtain, it’s time to pair this need with concrete business goals. What do you want the product to do for your company or industry? For the world at large? Are you a call center that wants to reduce wait times? A wellness studio that needs to increase memberships?
How will you measure the success of these initiatives? Twenty-five percent shorter wait times? Forty percent boost in memberships? One hundred thousand additional visitors to your site per week?
As you learn about your market, your development process will become that much more focused and efficient.
Find Your Cheerleaders
Once you know your audience, you can tap them to be your ambassadors. These early adopters have been crucial to the launch of such products as Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and countless offerings from Apple. Not only do they beta test the product at little or no cost, but they are also a focus group that gives unfiltered opinions on what does (and doesn’t) work. They may also bring business savvy to the table to provide a good indicator of what price point the market will bear.
Create an Exceptional User Experience
With your early adopter community as a guide, you can start to map out the user’s ideal journey when using the product, as well as work out the kinks.
What is the user experience, from beginning to end? How intuitive (or frustrating) is the navigation? How easy is it to reach the end goal? Which features seem to be a higher priority? Are there superusers who need to use the product more frequently and thus need more attention?
Questions like these will help your team identify what it needs to improve for future iterations. It can also highlight which features to bump up in the pipeline and which to shelve for later versions.
Pick Your Features
Feedback from early adopters is a vital part of the development process, but don’t let a select few users steer you too far off your core mission. There are a handful of tools that can be helpful in determining which features stay and which go:
- Opportunity statements: These turn aspirational questions—”How can we broaden our engagement with the wellness community?”—into concrete sentences that contain clear goals—”Increase our membership in the surrounding five towns by 15 percent.”
- Prioritization matrix. Once you have a solid slate of opportunity statements, you then need to work out what comes first in the pipeline. A prioritization matrix allows you to break down each task by specific criteria that highlight its importance relative to every other task.
The right features can make all the difference between an affordable development process that finds its footing early and an expensive one that stumbles out of the gate.
Need Some Help?
An MVP development strategy is a huge undertaking that takes time, resources, and people power. If you find yourself in need of extra hands quickly, a distributed team may be a useful solution. Check out our cost benefit analysis and see if it’s right for your company.