A minimum viable product (MVP) is a great solution for testing product viability. However, sometimes an MVP misses its mark, and there is little clue as to why it happened. One of the reasons for failure can be using the wrong MVP strategy.
Read on to find out what you need to know before minimum viable product implementation and how to plan a minimum viable product properly.
The main reason to invest in a minimum viable product is that an MVP helps save time and money. How? A minimum viable product is cheaper than trying to launch a full-fledged product all at once. By focusing only on the core functionalities to be developed, less money is invested in the initial stages of the project, and the development team can later work on any necessary patches to keep the product clean and functional.
An MVP allows for faster feedback from early adopters – receiving feedback at an earlier stage of the product development process allows for quicker iterations and implementation of necessary changes. Overall, a minimum viable product offers better flexibility - it is easier (and cheaper) to make changes to an initial, ‘in-development’ version of the product; and the end result will be more user-oriented.
An MVP minimizes risk – developing a large-scale application takes a lot of time, money, and company resources. The decision to start with an initial product, consisting only of top-priority features is more resource-effective and, in a worst-case scenario, if the product idea is not feasible or suited to the market, resources and budget have been saved for another project.
However, just building an MVP does not guarantee success. Below are some reasons why a minimum viable product might not work.
An MVP’s chances of success depend on implementation. You can avoid the most common pitfalls by being aware of them - keeping potential risks in mind is the best way to protect a project from failure.
Fig. 1 Reasons why an MVP might fail
- Poorly defined priorities and strategy
Before taking the first steps in the development process, it is important to map out the goals and strategy. Answering the following questions facilitates setting up a clear path.
- Think about the problem itself – how is it relevant, and how is your solution going to solve it?
- How do other products on the market reply to this issue?
- What functionality will make your product stand out from the competition?
- What makes this solution unique?
These answers will become the foundation for the MVP and allow you to build a product focused on the right solution, with clearly defined goals.
- Lack of, or ignoring, users’ feedback
It is impossible to create user-oriented products without feedback from early adopters. Sometimes it can be hard to hear harsh opinions, but we need to face them head on. With an MVP, it is not too late to improve the product and better meet users' needs. Ignoring less positive feedback does not make it better and definitely does not convince doubtful users. Learning lessons from users’ feedback helps you win the market. On the other hand, do not succumb to not creative criticism.
- Implementing too many or too few features
An MVP should be simple but also offer value to the user. Some companies struggle to find a balance and add too many features to the minimum viable product. However, this approach usually means a longer and more expensive development process and in the worst-case scenario, the budget can overrun before the minimum viable product is even ready.
Early adopters have to see clearly what makes the product innovative and how it can make their lives better – focus only on the features that make the concept unique. In the best case scenario they can incorporate the key aspect of your product in their daily routines and use it in the most typical use-case.
- Overlooking the prototype stage
When looking for cost savings, sometimes companies skip steps in the software development process. An MVP, as a rule, does not replace the need for a prototyping phase - in fact, it complements it. A prototype allows you to test the business vision as a functioning product, more than just a theoretical concept.
If you are not sure which option best fits your project’s current needs, check out our MVP vs. prototype comparison.
- Poor teamwork
A solid development team is a real helping hand in making the process as seamless as possible. Experts from different fields, such as developers, UX and UI designers, testers and more, are necessary to bring the right skills and knowledge to the project. What do we mean by the ‘right’ skills? The right skills are those that meet the project’s requirements; for example, when developing a product using Python technology, you need developers with Python experience, not Rust, and so on.
Developing any new concept is challenging. However, compared to regular digital products, network applications have additional complexity. This type of product requires specific knowledge about how networks operate. What’s more, when working with complex network environments, it can be easier to lose sight of the product’s goals.
The right team with the right skills and experience will support the product, including seamless upgrades and ongoing development. Check out why else creating an MVP for a network application matters by reading our previous article.
The below steps facilitate mapping out the successul MVP plan.
- Market research and identification of needs
Before investing serious money in the project, it is important to check if there is a real need for the type of product on the market. The product idea may be genuinely new but does it fit the market? If a niche exists, compare and analyze competitors' solutions to ensure your product stands out. This is also the time for thinking about goals and criteria for success. What do you want to achieve, and what (realistic) numbers will satisfy you?
- User journey
If the path is unclear, then think about the potential users. Who will they be? How will they use the product? Imagine possible user scenarios. What is the users' goal, and what steps do they have to take to achieve it? Clear user journeys can help with selecting the most important features and making the entire product more user-friendly. Talk with potential users. Any assumptions about real life scenarios are potential risks to your project.
- Pain-gain map
It is useful to focus on the potential problems faced by users while using the product. Anticipating such scenarios at an early stage allows for eliminating them before launch, and shortens the time-to-market.
- Prioritize features
Taking into account the above points makes it easier to identify the most critical features; those that must be included in the initial version of the product. As already mentioned, trying to implement too many components at once can be harmful to the product - ruthless prioritization is essential.
When prioritizing, it can be difficult to make a final decision. If so, the impact-urgency matrix below can help.
Fig. 2 MVP prioritization matrix
Place each feature on the matrix according to its potential impact and urgency. Some features may require some debate and discussion but ultimately, the matrix offers clarity with which features really are critical for inclusion in an MVP, and which are either unnecessary to the product or can be revisited later.
While developing an MVP, there are two core methodologies to choose from: waterfall and agile. Both have their pros and cons, and knowing the differences between them helps select the one that works best for the project.
The waterfall methodology focuses more on documentation and plans. This approach is linear and not very dynamic – firstly, the team focuses on the software requirements, then the design issues and, after development and testing, bugs are fixed.
The agile methodology is more flexible, focuses on collaboration and short feedback cycles. It is able to better adjust to the dynamic IT environment. What’s more, agile development provides for more frequent releases, which enables for implementation changes at each process stage.
Nowadays, more and more businesses are deciding to adopt an agile methodology in their processes. However, if you are struggling with which SDLC methodology would be the best for your project, check out our recent article.
At CodiLime, we believe that there is no progress without fluent communication. Communication is essential to better recognize and understand our clients’ requirements so as to better fulfill them.
Our partners can count on support from network engineers, front- and back-end developers and UX designers while designing the product architecture. Our experts select the optimal technology stack and provide support both with automation of product deployment and code implementation. We simply do our best to make your product succeed from the very beginning.
If you want to check out what MVP development process looks like at CodiLime, you can find the details on our MVP development services page.
Implementing a minimum viable product without a solid strategy and clear product vision will not provide value to the project. To implement an idea successfully, the MVP should be treated as a guide that facilitates creating and following the best path for the product’s development.
Knowing the possible reasons for MVP failure and having tips for avoiding them definitely makes MVP implementation easier.
Read our other MVP-related articles: