The Importance of a Minimum Viable Product
A former executive of mine used to tell our clients, “I can give you a little bit now, or everything never”. When you start a new project, there are 3 ways to deliver the product. You can create a product with every imaginable feature, which will require a timeline of infinity. You can create a product that has close to every feature in a short timeframe, which will undoubtedly be buggy and have performance issues. Or you can create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with rock solid features and be on time.
Every user would rather have 5 rock solid features than have 10 buggy features with performance issues. The hard part is figuring out what those 5 features should be. The thing to remember is most software applications have a version 2, 3, etc. But you can’t have a version 2 if you don’t have a version 1. That’s what makes MVP even that more important.
Let’s jump in our time machine and remember the 1st Gen iPhone. The 1st generation iPhone released in 2007 had a 3.50 in display, didn’t have a front camera, no flash, no FaceTime, you couldn’t create folders, no copy/paste, not even the app store. You get the picture.
What if Apple waited to have all the features of today before they released? Chances are someone else would have beaten them to market. Time to market is as important as the product itself. So what did Apple do? They decided on the MVP to release in 2007. The MVP of the 1st Gen iPhone was touchscreen, phone, text, camera, email, internet, and iPod. And last I looked, the iPhone has done pretty well in the market.
The key to determining your MVP is to figure out what is the least amount of features a user can have to get their job done. You have to distinguish between the ‘must haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’. For the iPhone, placing a call was a ‘must have’. A front-facing camera was a ‘nice to have’.
I won’t go in to all the steps in determining your MVP, but the most important one, in my opinion, is user interviews/research. Sit with your users. Be an observer. Watch for their pain points, their frustrations. This will set you on the road to deliver what your users want.
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