In the world of software development and business, it is very common for new ideas to emerge permanently. But, some work and some do not.
Many times, these ideas are carried out and cannot go forward. The problem is that the resources destined for its development, such as time, money and effort, are not used properly.
So, how do we know if an idea is great? How can we know that idea will be successful?
As a response to these questions, the concept of Minimum Viable Product was created. This term has become very popular in recent years in the software industry and is closely linked to the vision we have at Syloper.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the minimum version of a new product, which has the minimum functionalities to satisfy the needs of your customers. It enables your company to collect as much information as possible validated by real users. In this way, you can know in advance if they are interested in said products and if it is viable to be sold.
Eric Ries, an American businessperson and pioneer of “The Lean Startup” movement popularized the definition. In his book called “The Lean Startup”, he conceptualized MVP as a “minimal version of a new product that allows a company team to collect as much learning as possible with the least possible effort.”
This concept is related to “The Lean Startup” method, which aims to shorten development cycles and increase the chances of success when launching a product or business.
The method mentioned above counteracts the classic product development paradigm, which focuses precisely on the product. This used to take months or years to develop a project that, when it was launched, it failed because the market or consumers had already changed. Facing this problem, “The Lean Startup” raises the necessity to focus on the development of the client rather than on the product itself. First, understand who your customer is, what they need, what you can solve for them, if your product meets that problem resolution, and then develop the product. That is the difference from the classic paradigm: focusing on product development versus focusing on the customer itself.
The main objective of the Minimum Viable Product to carry out short development cycles that allow you to come out into the market as quickly as possible and, like this, get feedback from users. This is the most important thing and it will decide if what you are implementing, or the functionalities that your application has or the system you are developing, serve the users or not. Thus, we avoid the creation of products that nobody wants to consume.
It is very common for customers to spend months developing ideas or functionalities that they do not know if they have a market or if they have an audience that is going to use them. So, the idea of “The Lean Startup” is to do short development interactions to test ideas. And so, we can continue to go in depth with those that work and discard those that do not, based on user feedback.
The main characteristics of an MVP are:
The major benefit of creating an MVP is the ability to test hypotheses without spending too much time, money, and effort. For this reason, the minimum viable product is an effective tool for reducing the risks of your company.
Feedback from users testing the MVP will guide you in making adjustments. This allows us to offer a product that is more adequate for market expectations, which increases the chances of financial return.
Feedback regarding an MVP will not always be positive. When it is negative, as a product developer or entrepreneur, you will have several advantages. You will have time to make adjustments, change the launch date of the product, or even decide not to launch it.
It should be noted that although this method is mainly used by companies in the technology industry, the MVP concept can apply to both digital and physical products as well as services.
The advantages of an MVP are:
The three major steps in building an MVP are: Build, Measure, Learn. This is a constant feedback loop in which permanent adjustments must be made.
The first step is to create the hypothesis that you are interested in testing and define the metrics that will allow you to get the information to measure that hypothesis.
In this way, the MVP is built, which must be minimum and viable at the same time. It must have the minimum functionalities to be launched, and also it must have the characteristics to solve a problem for a certain group of people. All this will be possible with a low initial investment and in the shortest development time.
At this stage, tests are carried out to see if the development of your product is having valid results and actual progress.
It is necessary to establish metrics of value that are accurate and focused on the information you need to know. Make measurements based on the real actions of your customers, and then analyze these indicators. This is essential to check if your proposal meets the needs or solves the problems of your potential customers, i.e., if your MVP works, and if those customers will pay for your product.
In this stage, you will focus on analyzing the data collected to make the adjustments you consider necessary. They must be related to the market requirements.
According to the results obtained, you will decide the course to follow. If the progress is satisfactory, you will continue to advance with the project with greater momentum. Otherwise, you can change what is not working to get better benefits. In the worst case, if the result is completely negative, you can reject the project before it is launched.
If you are interested in an example of a Minimum Viable Product developed by us:
Here are some of the most common mistakes you may make and you should avoid when developing an MVP:
If the product is not fully developed and your audience is very large, you will most likely lose control over the process. This would make a poor impression and could affect sales when your product is finally launched into the market.
In addition, you have to remember that being a product that has not been fully launched, it is important to be cautious to prevent another company from collecting the information and developing it before you.
It is always a good idea to define the execution time of the tests that you will carry out beforehand and try to respect those times.
If that time is extended too much, it can harm the launch of your product to the market. Meanwhile, you are allowing other entrepreneurs to develop the same idea.
This is a very common mistake. Many times, products or services are created without considering what people want and need.
Never forget that, ultimately, it is your audience who will determine the success or failure of your projects.
It is very common to imagine an ideal product that is very difficult to transmit and motivate other people to use it. Thinking of a project that is too complex for the first version will be against you.
It is essential not to set aside a large budget or a lot of development or structure without even having a user who validates the idea.
An emblematic MVP successful story is the Buffer case.
“Buffer” is a tool used to manage social networks and to schedule publications on them.
Joel Gascoigne, its founder, was a great Twitter user. His publications were very popular. This led him to want to post more content, but he found it difficult to do so regularly.
Because of this, he came up with the idea of creating a tool for scheduling tweets. But he didn’t know if there were more people with the same need as him. To validate his idea, he used “The Lean Startup” method.
He needed to know if Twitter users would use a tool to schedule content. So, he created a web domain of only two pages without having developed any product. The first page described the product in three items and had a “Plans and Prices” button. By clicking this link, Buffer asked for an email address to inform the user when the product was ready. This allowed them to calculate people’s interest in the project.
The MVP attracted great interest in many Twitter users and was viralized on that network. This allowed the company to validate their idea.
Later, they added a table with a price range to the site, which allowed them to discover what was the most suitable amount for future subscriptions.
In this way, Buffer became a very successful product, starting with minimal investment and without risking too much.
We have seen that the minimum viable product is developed to test hypotheses regarding a product. It is a strategy widely used by companies. Its use allows verifying the viability of a project and its acceptance by the market. And, in this way, achieve a risk reduction that is unnecessary to take.
Much more important than creating a magnificent, unique and unbeatable product to just hit the market is designing an agile and flexible strategy focused on listening to your customers. Real users who use or take part in the project will capture the most valuable information.
It is important to focus on developing the minimum functionalities that cover a part of the project or the idea, and that must be valuable to test. After that, make the adjustments so that this project grows and improves. Try to focus on the metrics or the information that you are capturing from the actual use, and on the analysis of this metrics.
All this will allow you to reduce unnecessary costs and optimize your product or service so that it can be launched, aligned with the interests of the market. You will have a much better chance of achieving the desired success.
❖ We are Syloper, a software development company based in Rosario, Argentina and with projection throughout Latin America and the entire world.
✉ If you need us to help you make your idea come true: contact us.