A minimal viable product (MVP) is the most basic version of your product that meets the most important objectives without excessive bells and whistles. To create a successful MVP, you should be able to differentiate between a symptom and the root of the problem. Always try to solve the root of the problem to be more successful with your MVP. Usually, project sponsors have a long list of features that they need in the first version of the product. Always encourage them to step back and put the features into three logical buckets:
- Bucket 1 – Features they can’t live without
- Bucket 2 – Features that are nice to have
- Bucket 3 – Features that don’t matter
This exercise helps in determining what should be included as part of the MVP. Looking at the above grouping, Bucket 1 must be a part of your MVP. Bucket 2 is on the border to be included. Some or all features of Bucket 2 may be included in MVP based on time, budget, and resource constraints. Bucket 3 must be excluded from the MVP. Whatever you can’t include from Bucket 2 and Bucket 3 should become part of your future release (post-MVP). Defining your MVP is a very critical step for a successful MVP implementation. You can define MVP using a Product Requirement Document (PRD) or System Requirement Document (SRD). One page PRD or SRD should be sufficient to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.
Creating an MVP rather than a full-fledge product have some advantages:
- You can create MVP with a reasonable budget and acceptable timeline
- It reduces your overall risk because you can test your potential market and get feedback before taking a deeper plunge into product development
- It increases your business and development team’s morale because you release smaller and incremental versions of your product frequently
To be successful with MVP release, you have to remove excessive features and prevent any scope creep. You don’t want to be in an endless cycle of development for the fear of how your MVP would be received by your alpha and beta users. Be very transparent with alpha and beta users of your MVP, they should know this is not a final product and you, as a company, need their help to refine the product. There should be a feedback channel in place for all test users to report their feedback and the users should also get confidence that their feedback is being acted upon. Always remember that all the big names in the market started with some kind of MVPs, I would encourage you to do your research on Facebook and Airbnb.
It’s great to dream big. In fact, it’s really important. But big dreams start with some pragmatic implementations to begin with. If a minimal viable product (MVP) is built right, it can easily become the most valuable product (MVP) to meet your long-term vision.