Product Development powered by Minimal Viable Product

A major challenge faced in product development, especially with newly introduced products, is to validate whether or not the product solves problems and delivers value to it’s target group. It is common practice to develop products based on assumptions without involvement of real users. As a consequence the risks of failure and waste of costs is accepted. Even expensive market analysis cannot eliminate uncertainty about the product’s value to real users.
Obtaining valid feedback and learn from a product that doesn’t exist yet can be difficult, which leads to a high degree of uncertainty in terms of features the product should contain.
Why would you take that risks while real users are available to support you gathering insights and validate the product?
The concept of Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is highly beneficial when it comes to reducing uncertainty and develop products based on real user’s feedback.

The MVP is a version of the product that provides a minimal set features with the goal of gathering feedback and validate the product’s value. In comparison to the Minimal Marketable Product (MMP), which I will cover in a separate post, the MVP enables learning and validation at minimal costs before starting development of the actual product.



What is the minimal requirement for the product to be used for learning?

If you look at the Minimal Viable Product as a very pure form of the product you intend to develop, you need to ask what features are a essential part of your product. That minimal set of features then makes your MVP, used to obtain feedback from real users.
For software development it’s actually pretty simple to come up with an MVP. In it’s purest form, the MVP could be a piece of paper with a scribbled design of a web page or application’s graphical user interface (GUI).
That MVP is sufficient in order to present it to potential users and get an idea whether you are walking on the right path or not.
You might get feedback about elements in the GUI for example, that helps to determine if your product meets user’s expectations. These insights are your first indicator that reveals if the GUI represents valuable features. Combine several sheets of paper, each representing a different screen and model a flow through your application to extend your MVP.
More advances version of MVPs could be presented using wireframes, clickable HTML dummies or other technologies. In contrast to paper based MVPs, wireframes or HTML dummies could potentially be re-used and developed further into your real product. Once you have a version of your MVP that users at least accept, start incrementing it and create variations in order to find a product that users love.
With this simple forms of your product you reduce the risk of developing a real product at higher costs that might fail when released.

Key benefits and purposes of the MVP

  • test a product with minimal cost
  • reduce waste of effort and money
  • promote learning
  • validate your product idea
  • have a solid foundation for developing the real product

The MVP with the idea to learn from real users as early as possible is an important concept. Nothing can substitute feedback from real users available at such an early stage in product development. It is valuable input for designing and creating products satisfies users and finally is successful. MVPs accelerate the learning process while remaining highly user focused.

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