Minimum viable product (MVP), a magical, miraculous manifestation of your vision designed to test the waters. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? As we elaborate more on previous chapters – too often this ‘minimum’ becomes a maze of misplaced functionalities, unproven assumptions, and over-engineered tech tools. It’s like trying to bake a simple vanilla cake but ending up with a 5-tiered wedding cake.
Fret not! For every problem, there’s a solution and every misstep can be turned into a learning opportunity. In this guide, we’ll unravel the most common MVP misadventures, explore their root causes, and most importantly, illuminate the path towards avoiding these pitfalls.
So, fasten your seatbelts and hold on tight to your coffees, as we dive headfirst into this MVP adventure. Here we go!
“We know our users” – Many businesses find that obvious, however only some can prove it with data.
The assumption as a basis for idea creation can be very attractive. Ideas created this way are way more elastic and less prone to be brought down as far as our imagination, but investing in a solution that has no evidence in data going from market testing or user research is a risk, no doubt.
Understanding why and whether people need your solution is crucial. Also, you need to know the context of use and have research data to determine which business scenario will be most effective. Strategic decisions should be based on data e.g. from competition analysis, market analysis, or user research (customer interviews, surveys), not only assumptions. There is no other way to shape a reliable and realistic MVP, but to talk to your customers, gather real pains, and solve real problems
Regarding product strategy and monetization models, MVP can test your product in these areas as well, but as a time to market and tight budget play a role here, you have to know what to validate.
We mentioned quite a lot about KPIs and metrics in the last chapter of this ebook. If haven’t read it yet —> click here!
Allowing an MVP to contain too many functionalities that do not solve a problem or give value to the user is actually losing the reason for building an MVP.
Keep in mind that MVP is not a complete product. Focus on essential functionalities and leave low-priority features for later when checked if people need your product.
In our experience, prioritization is one of the most difficult challenges when building MVP. To reduce a product to the bare minimum and catch what is essential you can use some workshop techniques like:
The MVP is supposed to be a product with the minimum features necessary to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development. However, over-engineering occurs when too much time and resources are devoted to creating an MVP that is too complex or loaded with features that are not essential for the early stage of the product.
While it’s tempting to make use of the most advanced, fast, and perfected tools, it is essential to consider the context in which these tools are being applied. An over-engineered MVP may end up consuming more time and money than necessary, delaying the launch, and missing the opportunity to gather early feedback. It is wise to focus on building a simple MVP using solid, consistent, and safe tools that the team is familiar with, allowing for faster iterations and the ability to adapt based on customer feedback. This approach helps in delivering value to the customers more quickly and in a more cost-effective manner.
When creating an MVP scope, you can take inspiration from the following breakdown of digital tools:
Another common mistake is the lack of prototyping, especially in the early stages of building a product. This is said to take too much time or effort, so many companies skip prototyping and jump straight to the development phase. In reality, prototyping (or creating a proof of concept) is a great way to validate solutions cheaply with real people/users. Identifying problems at a very early stage can influence how the product will develop later and may ultimately look very different from the idea. Still, it gives certainty about the direction of development.
Most common prototype types:
As we mentioned in Chapter 4, setting measurable goals is key to determining the achievement of MVP objectives. It is clear that a lack of analysis is one of the most common mistakes, as it affects the definition of success. With KPIs set, it is important to check the rate of goal realization. Regular checking will give us the opportunity to react quickly if something does not go according to plan.
Without regular analytics checking the rate of goal realization is almost impossible. The benefit of regular metrics monitoring is the ability to react quickly if something goes not according to the plan. That’s what MPV is about.
First off, remember that ‘knowing’ your users without tangible, verifiable data is like walking blindfolded into a boxing ring, trusting your intuition to avoid the punches. You may evade a few, but for how long? Investing time in robust market testing, user research, and competitor analysis isn’t just smart – it’s essential for your survival and success.
Moving on to feature prioritization. Remember, your MVP isn’t a buffet where you pile up every single dish. It’s a selective menu of handpicked delicacies that truly satiate your customers’ appetites. Employ methodologies like the effort-impact matrix or MoSCoW to serve up the right features at the right time. As fascinating as new shiny tools might be, don’t fall into the trap of over-engineering. The MVP it’s about building something solid, consistent, safe, and well-known. Your focus should be on what allows you to deliver value quickly and reliably.
Think of creating your MVP as an artist would approach a sketch. Start with the bare essentials, then gradually add details as the picture becomes clearer. Remember, it’s a process of learning, adjusting, and refining. So, whether you’re about to embark on your MVP journey or are knee-deep in the trenches, keep these insights close to your heart. They might just be the guideposts that lead you to your masterpiece.
Remember about the power of prototyping – the underdog hero of the MVP stage. Despite what you might think, it’s not an expendable luxury. Prototyping is your secret weapon to early-stage problem detection, saving you both time and money in the long run. Embrace it.
So, raise your coffee mugs high, here’s to making MVPs that aren’t just Minimum and Viable, but also Masterful, Valued, and Profitable. Cheers!