What is an MVP? When is it worth implementing?

Karolina Walczewska, 19 August 2020

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MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a product that meets minimal criteria for market readiness and launch. In other words, it means that the project is at an early stage of development and has only a basic set of functionalities predefined for usage. The concept of MVP should not be misconstrued with the concept of a cheaper and worse solution. It is merely the preliminary version of the product ready for testing. MVP focuses on the core of the functionality or the precise problem that the application is designed to solve.

An application at the MVP phase is usually created without functionalities considered to be additional or optional. For example, if the project is supposed to provide an application for the courier services, the MVP may not include elements such as tracking the shipment on map or logging in using a Facebook account since these specific features do not directly address the application’s core requirements.

MVP and the Prototype

Unlike the prototype - used to check the operation of the system at the technical level, MVP focuses on market feedback. The prototype is usually tested internally or with a strategically selected pilot group of users to check that it works correctly and as expected. The MVP is produced to check whether the developed functionality meets 'fitness for purpose' criteria and if its utility value is clear.

Why MVP?

The MVP saves time and money. In the case of the classic approach - when an extensive product is launched on the market - risk management focuses primarily on the processes of market research, marketing, and sales, where most of the risk is believed to exist. The minimum product strategy, however, mitigates the risk of the project failure much earlier in the risk cycle, by maximizing customer feedback at a stage in the development cycle long before all of the expensive and risky marketing tactics are employed.

Thanks to the MVP, the system is tuned early to users' expectations, their feedback is collected at a relatively low cost, and the application is analyzed in its earliest stages of development. The final product may be radically depart from its original assumptions and this is what will ultimately save resources that would otherwise be wasted on a product that nobody asked for.

The MVP concept is a good solution in many ways. The most important advantages include the possibility of:

  • initial verification of the product's usefulness,
  • product development tailored to customer needs,
  • saving money,
  • early acquisition of investors,
  • checking and reacting to changing market trends.

When is it worth creating MVP?

An MVP is the perfect solution for complex, costly, and long-term projects. Its purpose is to validate market demand for a given product prior to large investments of time and money. Acceptance and implementation of the MVP concept afford timely feedback from early users, responsive changes to said feedback, re-testing, and continual improvement. Therefore, as in the case of a start-up, it is worth considering the implementation of the MVP at the outset, in order to establish reliable demand for the project. The MVP strategy was used by many start-ups that eventually became very successful, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox.

How to create an MVP?

By definition, an MVP is merely an early version of the product with minimal functionalities, but its implementation and continuous improvement require effort. The MVP development process can be divided into distinctly defined stages:

  1. The precise definition of the idea.
  2. Defining the purpose of the application as a value offered to customers.
  3. Checking the competition and current trends.
  4. Identification of the most important product requirements.
  5. Finding and verifying the pilot group of early users.
  6. Product creation and launch.
  7. Testing, getting feedback, and making changes.