Quick version: a Minimum Viable Product is a version of the product requiring the least amount of effort to create. You build just enough so you can reach out to users and gather feedback. With that, you can iterate features ideas and learn about the market and the users' needs.
We dream of building the perfect product.
A product with all features from competitors and throw in a couple more to make it look good. The initial list of 3 features ends up becoming a monstrous todo list of 100 items. Then, it becomes overwhelming to think about how to build a product like that. We fall in love to our perfect product. We start planning to hire people, raise money and design marketing campaings. And people who have the time and money will start hiring people to develop the product. There is a problem with that. With no actual user feedback, there is a risk of creating a solution without an actual problem to solve.
After months or even years of development, the sponsors of the new product launches. Adoption and usage does not happen as expected. The end users are not enthused about the product. Team members, employees, managers, vendors finger point each other. The management blames the developers and product managers for the results. At the end, the product launch is a disaster after a lot of efforts, money and time for all parties.
The story above happens quite often to all types of companies and individuals. To avoid that end, you must include real user feedback from the very beginning of the product development process. Sometimes, it is not possible to have the end user feedback due to organizational structure. In some companies, the PM may have to use proxies to gather those feedback. At the end, the quality of the feedback is low and the result scoping is not adequate. Subject expert matters will chime in their point of view but they are the ones using the product on a daily basis. At the end, the user experience suffers and the end product may have to be reworked again.
That is when MVP can help correct the issue at the source.
The MVP process allows stakeholders to test their business ideas quickly and minimum of effort. It is better to use MVP process to gather real life feedback without spending a lot of money and time. Specially for multi-million dollar projects, it is better to apply MVP process and marketing research together to zoom in to real users needs. It is better to spend hundreds of thousands now then millions of dollars in a doomed idea. In any case, MVP also applies for people who are trying to kickstart a business without much budget. Using MVP will increase your chances of success.
The simplest implementation of MVP is easy. You should start by visualizing your target market and users. Start recruiting people. Use forums, friends and your network to reach them out. Interview them. Create simple mocks and ask them for feedback. That is the core of MVP process.
The MVP process can make people upset. Most of the time, you will discover that your initial idea and dream does not fit into the real world test. Or you discover that there are more technical or business hurdles that you cannot solve bsed on your initial thoughts. It's okay. You just dodged a bullet!
In the next posts, I will be discussing more details about MVP and how that can help you to create your own business or product!