MVP - what does it actually mean?

A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is a version of a software or application that is at an early stage of development, but advanced enough for users to evaluate the idea and use key features comfortably.

A main objective of an MVP is to provide the development team with information directly from the users before the final version is released.

What will you get out of it?

More Objectivity. Your own team and you are not the best measuring sticks. Sometimes you need outsiders to coolly verify your assumptions. An MVP allows us to obtain information directly from users who have not had contact with the application before, which is invaluable in the process of product development.

Reliable opinion of the target group. When asked what they like about our product, users will intentionally look for strengths and weaknesses. Such a strategy in a way bends the evaluation, passing it through a cognitive filter. It is different in the case of MVP when users get their hands on your product, and the way they naturally use it provides more information than any declarative data. First impressions do not lie.

Saving time and money. Minimum Viable Product allows us to check whether the product concept is defensible, which functionalities are attractive to users, what should be developed and what should be abandoned. Since you receive this data even before the final product is finished, you can save huge amounts of time and money by resigning from ineffective solutions or improving concepts at the development stage.

8 common mistakes in MVP

  1. Over-expanded product. Yes, yes, we know how hard it is to give up all those great features, but the truth is that a Minimum Viable Product should only contain the key ones. This allows it to do its job - get into use quickly and provide feedback. Do not allow feature creep to spam your product with extra gizmos too early.
  1. Under-expanded product. However, you also have to be careful with this minimalism, so when limiting the number of functionalities, remember not to give up the ones that are essential for your users. If the MVP is unattractive for the target group, it will do you more harm than good, and you may get the wrong message from your test group.
  1. Too broad a target group. Everyone wants their product to appeal to EVERYONE. Unfortunately, defining too broad a target audience is a mistake even for a full-scale product. By releasing an early version of your app to every possible source and every possible audience, you will collect a lot of different data that will be hard for you to quickly interpret and implement as improvements.
  1. Inadequate development method. Minimum Viable Product requires a specific methodology to be effective. It works great in the agile model, but in systems based on a steady progression of work, like a waterfall, it may not bring the expected results.
  1. Poor research. MVP does not forgive poor knowledge of the market. In this method, precision counts in the matter functionalities, target group, testing time, clear and conclusions. You need to know the market you want to launch your product from inside out, to know exactly how your concept will respond to its needs. 
  1. Changing assumptions. The goal of an MVP is to release your app as quickly as possible, and when deciding on this solution, you need to know exactly what you want and what you're testing. Of course, as a result of user feedback, the objectives of the final version may change, but at the MVP stage, the goals must be clearly defined. Every change lengthens and irritates the process, which should help you reduce costs and time.
  1. Perfectionism. We hear all our lives that perfectionism is the domain of the great, but there comes a point when you have to swallow the bitter pill because perfectionism has no place in a Minimum Viable Product. If the development process were a drawing, the MVP is only a preliminary sketch. 
  1. Ignoring data. The purpose of an MVP is to get feedback from users and learn from it to make your product as good as possible. If you ignore the information given to you by your target audience and don't use it in the development process, you might as well save yourself the effort with the MVP.

Easier said than done!

It sounds suspiciously easy, but in reality, is not. Even the absolute best of corporations have their history littered with bad products, failed launches and ridiculous MVPs. But we know about those because they have tried, and when a product is faltering, many of those organizations jumped ship early and refocused.

A Minimum Viable Product is an extremely valuable resource - it provides you with feedback directly from your users at a time when you still have a possibility to change your product without generating excess costs. If you play these cards right - you can save a lot of time and money and have a much higher chance of success. Beware of the 8 simple MVP mistakes and go straight for your goals!