A systematic approach for building an MVP
Solving real world problems by creating a new product/platform/service is the primary role of a product owner or entrepreneur. The success of an outstanding product concept is contingent upon the strategic alignment of essential factors. A critical factor is the development of a true Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and ensuring a timely market entry.
Based on my experience of working with 60+ founders and product owners, in last 5 years, from various size businesses, here is a systematic approach for building a meaningful MVP in a reasonable time.
For the sake of simplicity, I will be using the term “product”, but this discussion is equally applicable to platforms and services. Though my references are IT specific, this approach can be applied to the non-IT domain as well, depending on the nature of the product.
Important steps in developing MVP
Here is a precise list of steps that one can follow for the development of a product MVP:
- Answer two fundamental questions
- Carry out discovery work
- Define architecture & design
- Develop 3 to 5 core use-cases
- Conduct early user validation
- Incorporate feedback & finish the development
- Harden the MVP
- Release the product MVP.
Now let’s briefly explore these 8 steps:
1. Answer two fundamental questions
a) Am I solving a real-world problem?
b) Why would people pay for this product?
People pay for the products which add value to them or their businesses. Answer these questions, support your answers with data, and have a clear vision about the revenue model.
2. Carry out discovery work
During or after product idea validation, let the technical team do a discovery sprint.
The discovery sprint should only focus on those aspects which are unknown or new in this product development. This can be likened to scouting before embarking upon an expedition. The sprint could take anywhere from 5 to 15 days, depending on complexity.
3. Define architecture and design
Though the actual development should be done in the agile way, a high-level architecture and design helps greatly with decisions regarding the overall path for product development. This could include a block diagram, a component diagram, or wireframes for core features, and preferably database schema as applicable.
Note that the focus should be on the top 3 to 5 core use-cases targeted in the MVP.
4. Develop 3 to 5 core use-cases
Focus on the most important features/core features for implementation. Don’t worry about trivial use cases like the sign-up, login, master data management, etc.
Ensure that continuous integration testing happens parallel to development and that the product owner is involved in sprint ceremonies.
5. Do early validation with users
As soon as the core features are developed, take the product version to the actual users. Ensure that the product is usable, and that the users are excited to use the product once it is ready.
Additionally, confirm validation with the customer accountable for payment. It is important to recognize that while users are the ones utilizing the product, they might not be the purchasers or decision-makers; often, it’s the customer who holds decision-making authority.
Ensure that you note down the feedback in as much detail as possible.
6. Incorporate feedback and complete the development
After validation with a representative group of users and customers and documentation of their feedback, analyze the recurring patterns. Extract insights from this feedback and assess its alignment with the overarching product vision. Subsequently, integrate the feedback into the product during the remaining sprints, making course corrections as necessary.
Now complete the product development by adding (ideally reusing) the standard frameworks & features like master management, subscription models, RBAC, authentication flow, audit trail, etc.
7. Harden MVP
Once the core use-cases are implemented, and integrated testing is being done in sync with development, conduct 1 to 2 sprints (depending on scope & complexity) dedicated to the detailed integrated testing, completion of pending test automation, and hardening of core features. When faced with judgment calls between prioritizing the number of features vs hardening core use-cases, I believe the product owner should lean towards the latter.
Carry out fundamental security & load/performance testing, at least for the core part of the MVP.
8. Release product MVP
When your MVP is getting ready for release, your marketing & sales channels should be ready as well. Even if there are no formal teams/departments, as a product owner, have those plans in place.
Now, you can go ahead and release the product MVP to your target market, as per strategy. Ensure you have a mechanism to track the adoption of the product and seek ground level feedback.
The adoption, feedback and return on investment (may be gradual) will make you ready for the next version of your product!
In the last five years, we at CoReCo Technologies, have worked with 60+ business owners of various size businesses from across the globe, from various industries. We not only developed their products/platforms but also have helped product owners to get answers to these questions.
We have developed product MVPs in 30 to 100 days, depending on the scope & complexity of the problem statement. This has immensely helped business owners get a jump start in getting to the market, with minimal to no waste of resources.
For more detailed discussions on this or similar topics, I would love to see your hello at [email protected].