Five Rules for a Minimum Viable Product Strategy

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is defined in Wikipedia as “a product which has just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” In this article, Sergiy Andriyenko proposes fives rules to apply successfully a Minimum Viable Product strategy.

Author: Sergiy Andriyenko, Svitla, http://www.svitla.com/

The best example to explain the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy might be the “….Got Talent” shows. Think about it. At the first performance the participants have basically nothing but their talent and their homemade performance to say “Hello, World”. They have about one minute to reach WOW effect and find out whether or not their idea has desirable impact on the audience. And if they manage to surprise it like Susan Boyle did, they begin developing and growing to become well-known stars.

Five Rules for a Minimum Viable Product Strategy

Minimum viable product often misguides those who are willing to use this strategy to start a new project. As the standard definition “a strategy for fast and quantitative market testing” happens to be narrow and a bit misleading, experts discuss other important features of successful MVPs. And while the number of pros and cons continues to grow, more articles and even books appear. Having used a MVP approach in projects like PeopleSmart.com, Archives.com and several mobile apps, we found it very useful. So we have summarized in this article the top rules that can help you to put MVP thinking into action.

Rule #1: Correct Focus

MVP helps to focus on the key problems, your potential customers experience and define core features of a future product. Using this technique you will establish the main priorities for yourself and your team (which can be challenging) and be sure that the problem you are solving is worth tackling. Correct targeting is important at this point. You should avoid the mainstream audience. Set your customers’ attention in the right way and get to the right audience for the first trial. Remember that you are actually selling the vision of future product and the idea of what that the simple tool they are playing with today could become tomorrow.

Rule #2: Minimalism

Minimalism in this case means: the smartest test to prove your idea is good or is worthless. Begin with defining the simplest technique to run the project and finding the ways to make it different from products that already exist. Try to deliver your idea cost-effectively so that customers will be ready to pay. Balance between your customers’ wishes and your own vision. While dealing with all those tasks, you will have also to choose the right platform for a quick and cheap start. The range of possibilities is quite wide. Whether it will be a WordPress site, YouTube, Google Docs or even email doesn’t matter. It is the creative idea that makes things roll.

Rule #3: Balance

The key for success is long-term thinking. MVP is not only about minimizing your effort after all; it is also about being viable. Development of the product can move in various directions and it is not always clear which way is right. Be flexible and interact closely with the customers, so that you won’t waste your time with no-profit ideas. At this stage, you can also better analyze and understand the market needs. That is, before answering the question “how we can make the product and what resources we need”, think if the market needs this solution at all. Funny as it may sound, many projects fail at this very point. Basically “Viability” helps to check whether your product focuses on your customers essential needs in an innovative way. So look for the balance between viability and minimizing efforts.

Rule #4: Testing

In a Minimum Viable Product approach, testing is about understanding if your product is solving your customers’ problem and their readiness to pay for it. Besides, testing reveals the market capabilities and company resources. The ways to gather and analyze users’ responses are very diverse. The most effective are customer interviews, landing pages, A/B testing, ad campaigns, fundraising, explainer videos, piecemeal MVPs, SaaS & PaaS, blogs, manual-first (aka “wizard of oz”) MVP, concierge MVPs, digital prototypes, paper prototypes, single-feature MVPs, pre-order pages. Look for a perfect and easy tool to summarize the data, like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics or CrazyEgg, try to use existing tools instead of building your own infrastructure. An upright combination of different platforms can make a good version of your ideas.

Rule #5: Do not fail

Despite the common belief, only 30-40% of projects fail, so your chances for success are quite high. Experts suggest three general approaches to escape unhappy results: 1) Use your intuition. 2) Talk to domain experts. 3) Start with the 3 universal risks. Seemingly endless number of failure risks can be reduced to three categories: product, customer and market. The main questions you have to ask yourself to uncover a problem in each category should be the following:
* Product: Is the problem you are solving worth your energy? Are you using the simplest technique? Have you verified a large scale?
* Customer: Have you defined your customers correctly? Have you identified their needs correctly? Is your communication process efficient?
* Market: Does your pricing correspond to the existing competition? What alternative solutions can you suggest?

About the Author

Sergiy Andriyenko is the head of the Project Management Department. He possesses excellent project management and analytic skills and a strong technical background. With over a decade of international work experience in Canada and the United States, Sergiy is a valued member of Svitla Systems. His previous experience includes 8 years in Process and Robotics Engineering at Magna Corporation; setting up automated sequences and running production lines in manufacturing facilities; developing applications and defining business requirements for the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) business application for Electronic industries. Sergiy holds an MBA in Management from Cleary University, Michigan.

This article was originally published on Svitla’s blog http://svitla.com/blog/5-rules-for-building-successful-mvp-strategy and is reproduced here with permission of Svitla.

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