Q&A What's a MVP?

Q&A What is a MVP Minimum Viable Product?
If you have been browsing the web and doing some research on creating a mobile app, you may have come across the acronym MVP. MVP is short for Minimum Viable Product and can be defined as a fully functioning app with only the bare minimum features to serve its purpose.  Eric Ries, the Author of Lean Startup, who first coined the term defines a MVP as that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
Entrepreneurs and enterprise project managers wishing to build a mobile app for their business/company have one thought in common. “Will the app be a success?”.  This is a legitimate concern because unfortunately, not all apps are well received by users. Plus creating a mobile app from scratch is not cheap so the bigger the project is, the higher the risk.
There is no guaranteed return on investment (ROI). In this equation, ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100. In our case, the ‘Cost of Investment’ is basically your budget but the ‘Net Profit’ is completely unknown territory. To have a better understanding of where your app will stand, you will need some solid analytics and this is where our MVP steps in.
Why MVP’s can be annoying
Creating an MVP can seem like an annoyance. The project seems to demand extra overhead and thought. A decisive clear line has to be created between what should stay in the MVP and features that can follow in Phase two. Determining this might not be that straight forward in some projects. Different stakeholders might not always come to agreement. Even after the MVP is released, a lot of time and energy will be consumed talking to real customers and analysing the metrics of user behaviour and feedback. You might be still thinking, after all of this hard work, the final product isn’t even shipped?
But it’s worth it
The counterarguments to the above paragraph is as follows.
1) Extra overhead required to build the MVP argument? Well it would much better to sink a $10,000 MVP than a halfway through $80,000 project.
2) Gathering data and studying analytics is mandatory component of thorough research. You will have to do it anyway. Why not break them down into chunks based on iterations you have made?
3) The final product is in fact shipped, but just a more stripped down version.
Start small
Most clients that we have met have a very clear vision of what they want. They have done their homework and they have come to us pages of detailed requirements. Some have even approached us with their own detailed wireframes and mock-ups. However, clients soon come to realise how expensive their full-scale project will cost. At Commerce lab, in a lot of cases, we recommend that we start off building an MVP. During our strategy consultations, we talk about the MVP in detail. We step you through what should be included in this first phase using our expertise and experience.
In the past, software was generally created using a waterfall-style approach. A company board came up with a software solution and the full version was created. It was then shipped and users would then try it out. Sound familiar?
The lean approach ensures a better use of resources, time and budget by starting the project small to reduce risk and ultimately unnecessary waste. No matter how great your app idea is, there is always a chance that it won’t fly the first go.
App development doesn’t happen in a day. Creating an MVP is a perfect opportunity to reassess what works and what doesn’t. This development approach allows you and your team to target specific group of users. It is an experiment to see how your app can solve a problem/issue your users are facing and further how they respond to the product that you are offering. Remember, the MVP is still a viable product. It should be able to fend for itself its usability, accessibility and functionality in solving real life problems.
Test the sample and learn from feedback
Once the feedback of the app has been evaluated, Version 2 can be created. Since you now have a solid understanding of how the app has performed, you are able to add the additional features that will make your app stand out more. You can reconsider with the project team which part of the worked and what requires further work. The app can be developed with greater confidence in delivering a healthier ROI.
Another reason why the MVP approach is useful is because it allows enough budget left to try something different if the MVP wasn’t a success. Instead of spending all of your funds on a large project, the MVP allows opportunity to create an app with a different approach if the first one wasn’t a success.
What a MVP isn’t
A MVP isn’t an incomplete product. Using a cake analogy, an MVP isn’t just the icing or the decorations. If the final product was a 3-tier cake, a MVP would be a much smaller version of the cake. But you could use the same cake to later create the 3-tier cake. This analogy has officially broken down.
An Example
Say you want to create a game like Angry Birds. Your MVP would be to create 2-3 levels with 1 character. Once you see the success of this version, you can then release version 2 which has more Angry Birds character to fling. This version would also have a greater number of levels as well as extra features.
Any other reasons to develop an MVP?
Yes there is more. A growing list of successful software companies have used this approach to launch their product. Facebook and Uber are some examples of companies that started off with MVP’s. Still not convinced? Dropbox, Airbnb, Foursquare and Amazon are a few more to add to the list.
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 Based in Sydney, we bring app development solutions for eCommerce to businesses across Australia.