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Using the MVP Approach in Software Development

It’s natural for developers to be risk-averse — and to prefer launching a product with fully functioning features. Ideally, all bugs should be fixed during the SDLC (software development lifecycle). However, the reality is that, no matter how much time you invest in product development, perfection is elusive.

Instead, it’s more effective to launch your product and use customer feedback to add improvements. You can then release each of these iterations as new versions for download.

This is known as creating a minimum viable product (MVP). Eric Ries, who popularized the term, defined an 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.”

In other words, you use actual user feedback to guide product development. In this way, you can determine your ROI based on product sales and customer satisfaction.

What Are the Benefits of an MVP in Software Development?

A fundamental premise behind MVP is that you produce an actual product with enough features to attract first-gen customers and fulfill their basic needs for the product. Then, you can observe how these customers actually use your product, which is far better than relying on theories and suppositions about how they would use your product.

You can then make new iterations of the product, each with slight improvements based on the feedback.

MVP ensures that developers avoid costly rework in the realm of product development. Instead, they can develop new iterations based on customer feedback that may challenge the initial assumptions of the product. The MVP is exactly like carrying out an experiment based on the scientific method. Instead of using it to prove a hypothesis, you are using it to determine if a product is viable.

How Do You Develop an MVP?

Obviously, there must be standards for your MVP. Otherwise, it won’t meet the needs of your target market. Some standardized starting points for developing an MVP include:

  • Determining the function of your product and setting the minimum base functionality. You can’t offer a product with no value at all.
  • Determining what additions your product can use before you receive feedback. It’s often helpful to have a list of functions that you can offer for the next iteration.
  • Developing your product, taking it to the marketplace, and asking for feedback on it.
  • Don’t just wait for passive feedback, however. Gather as much data as you can use from market interviews, win-loss analyses, beta testing, and focus groups.
  • Be open to all possible responses. Ultimately, this is still a viable product. Feel free to take in the information you think is valid for the next iteration, and feel free to ignore functionality requests that stray from your software’s primary purpose.
  • Begin developing your next iteration based partially on the data you receive and the direction you have determined for the product.

Work With Entrance to Develop an Effective MVP

It’s okay to build a product development roadmap that can accommodate bug fixes and innovation. However, a “buggy” MVP can negatively impact your company’s credibility. We recommend creating an MVP that works with few (if any) glitches whatsoever. It may have few features but should “work” without frustrating early-adopters.

The traditional form of software development often occurs in a bubble. Asking clients what they want in a product often proves to be an exercise in futility. They usually don’t know exactly what they want the product to do until they use it.

By developing an MVP, you get clear feedback on the features your client is using, the bugs that need fixing, and the areas that need improvement. That information will be priceless for your next iteration. Still, coming up with an MVP is often a complex process. For information on how to use the MVP approach in software development and create a commercially viable MVP, contact us today.

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