Minimum viable product: what it is and how to create it

Once a concept is in place, entrepreneurs and development teams must properly define and develop an actual product. That is not always an easy task. In fact, defining exactly the first iteration of a product can be quite challenging and require a number of steps.

Specifically, the business has to move from concept to a minimum viable product or MVP. “A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.” This is the most pared down version of the product which is still viable and which allows the customer to complete the journey to their goals. By its nature, it is also the product that can be built with the least risk both in terms of capital and time.

In order for an organization to properly, and as exactly as possible, define its MVP, it must follow a number of steps. It is important to keep in mind that depending on the type and nature of the product, the industry, and the market, the steps may somewhat differ or have to be adjusted.

Identify the needs and opportunities

First, it is important to identify the need(s) that are being addressed and the users who have those needs. Identify the problem, the situation, and the long-term goals for the product. Identify your users, their needs or jobs to be done, their problems and pains, their expectations and gains, and the manner in which they can be satisfied through the product.

It is imperative that this process is not confused with the concept that has already been formed. This is not an exercise of merely documenting the use cases that are the underpinnings of the concept. The team must delve deeper, including charting out a customer profile that lists all of the jobs that the customer wants to be done, and a comprehensive list of their pains and their gains.

Create roadmap for customer journey

You should also map out the customer journey. These are the steps that the customer completes in using the product and reaching an end goal. It is important to identify the challenges involved with each step of the journey and also all of the places where there are gains for the customer. This allows the team to examine how to make the journey as simple as possible while still addressing the customer’s goals. It also provides an opportunity to decide what features must be included in the MVP – needs versus wants, for example.

The process by which the team arrives at this data differs depending on the industry, the type of product, and budget, among other things. This includes the type and level of market research analysis that is performed. To be sure, the process requires as much feedback as possible. Depending on the above factors, the feedback can be obtained through expert advice, user interviews, surveys, or reference materials such as relevant research materials.

Decide on the crucial features of the MVP

Deciding what features are crucial to your MVP requires a different perspective. Now, you have to approach the issue thinking of the costs involved – in terms of capital, resources, and time – strategy, user priorities, and competitive advantages. These would have to be used by the team to create a product roadmap, prioritizing the vital features and user experiences.