MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is an often-used terminology that finds its origins in the Lean and Agile development process. It has now become common in software development parlance. Although the concept was coined by Frank Robinson, MVP became more mainstream after Eric Ries described it in his book The Lean Startup, “ A key premise behind the idea of MVP is that you produce an actual product that you can offer to customers and observe their actual behavior with the product or service. Seeing what people actually do with respect to a product is much more reliable than asking people what they would do.”
An MVP can be termed as a software product comprising just the core features. The purpose behind launching an MVP is for the design and development team to validate the features against user needs. Validation in this case typically comes from users as well as stakeholders. Very often do we come across products that try to do too much at once or fall woefully short of expectations. But, following the MVP process ensures that the product makes progress in the right direction. Problems arise only when businesses harbor misconceptions about what the MVP actually is, and then blame subsequent failures on the process.
Let’s start clearing the air about the myths and misconceptions about the MVP process.
1. The MVP is a subpar version of a product
No, that isn’t right.
The design team follows a definitive process to create an MVP that includes user research, and iterative ideation. The MVP is a complete product including features that are based on user needs. However, these would be the core features only which are then tested and reviewed for their performance.
2. An MVP means no features and no use cases
Of course not!
A ‘minimum viable’ product needs to be minimally viable. Therefore, efforts are directed into picking the right kind of features with utmost mindfulness to make it minimally viable. The right kind of use cases are created and analyzed to come up with the most appropriate set of features.
3. An MVP needs to be perfect
As much as you’d want to strive for perfection, this is not the place for it. A digital product is never a done-in-one-shot kind of a product. It has to be tested and validated for user needs, which is what an MVP is. This process lets you work with a core idea and then build on it by continuously seeking feedback at every step of the way.
4. An MVP is a working prototype that need not be shippable
It’s a full-fledged product at the very first stage of its design and development. The MVP is at the beginning of its life cycle and forms the basis for future iterations and improvements.
5. An MVP is the final version of a product
When a product is aiming for minimum viability, it certainly cannot be a final version. As was mentioned in the previous point, the MVP is a true product at the very first stage of progress. It is released to users to gain feedback and to be upgraded in line with the feedback. Like any great product, it’s never really finished and continues to be improvised based on feedback.
6. An MVP is a great way to make a quick profit
If you’re getting into the MVP process to make a quick profit, you could be in for a disappointment. The purpose of an MVP is mainly to test ideas and get them validated. In time, this will align profits for the business by ensuring that the product development moves in the right direction. But it is wrong to expect quick profits from an MVP.
7. A failure of an MVP signifies the end of the road
No, it doesn’t.
The basic idea behind launching an MVP is to validate ideas. So even in the event that it receives negative feedback, the purpose is to focus on the feedback and go back to the storyboard, either to upgrade it or change direction completely. The feedback gained from an MVP is what’s important – it acts as a guide to design a better product.
8. The MVP process cannot be executed for enterprise products
Yes, enterprise-scale products are too massive and too complicated and any changes made to them come with a high-risk clause. But that’s the exact reason why the MVP process might be a good fit. Small, incremental changes made to an enterprise product can be a safe way to introduce new or modified features or upgrades without causing a lot of discomforts. It is a safe method, especially when compared to the risks involved in investing a huge budget and time in a product that isn’t user-friendly and ends up negatively impacting the bottom line. It remains a method safe and reliable enough to try out.
Now that we’ve covered 8 myths that plague the MVP process, let’s conclude by understanding how to actually do it right. Build an MVP with an aim to solve a true problem. Then, release the product with the aim to gain feedback and not profits. Keep building the product based on the feedback you gain, which is sure to mitigate risks and create a user-driven product.