A minimum viable product (MVP) can provide an immediate value with the least amount of effort.
It assists in testing an idea's viability and paves a path for the features that product managers should focus on for helping achieve product success. In short, it is all about discovering the needs of your target customers. You can use this article as a step-by-step guide that will provide you with an approach to creating the perfect MVP development roadmap for any new ideas, whether it is for your mobile app development projects or another type of product idea.
What is a minimum viable product?
A minimum viable product, is the basic first version of the product that contains minimum features just enough to test the product's viability in the market. It provides the ability for early adopters to test the product.
The objective of the minimum viable product is to understand the value of the idea with minimum development efforts. It helps you gain insight into your customers' needs and their reactions to your product’s features.
This way, it gives you a chance to validate your initial assumptions. Of course, once the minimum viable product is in the hands of the users, you can improve it in future iterations by gathering data and feedback. However, the question remains: what features should we include, and what criteria should we look at while defining the MVP?
Read on below as we answer all these questions and more.
Why should you build a minimum viable product?
Did you know that 90% of most start-ups fail? There are a few contributing factors that cause this to happen. These factors include running out of money, entering the wrong market, and not carrying out enough research. However, risks can be reduced by using the MVP development process.
All product developments start with general assumptions about potential users and user actions. Following the step-by-step guide for the MVP development process gives you a chance to validate those assumptions. It is an iterative development build, measure, learn process to check on expectations to help make sure things are continually improved.
You build a basic version of the product with core functionalities and give it to target users. Following this, you collect feedback to learn about those using the product. Once again, this learning is fed into the iterative model that helps with the decision-making process.
This stage is vital in helping decide which aspects of the product you should focus on in the next phase of the product cycle.
What are some immediate benefits of building a MVP?
As highlighted earlier, the main benefit of a minimum viable product is that it helps quickly realize the value of the product and validates many of your previous theories. However, there are some additional immediate benefits to this framework as well:
- It increases the chance of the product's success in the early development stage, which improves the confidence of stakeholders/investors.
- You can change the business direction of your product based on how your target audience reacts to your MVP through user value.
- You can see if there is market validation for your product.
- It can help you set the strategy to monetize your product.
- It’s perfect for minimizing development costs compared to releasing a fully-fledged product with high costs and years of development.
Although, don’t just take our word for it. Dropbox is a good example of taking advantage of using a MVP and using it to define success. As a result, they’ve progressed to a widely successful organization that has a net worth of $12 billion.
Checklist for creating a minimum viable product roadmap
Here we have listed the roadmap to a MVP. There are various MVP roadmap checklist points that are essential to the development process. Let’s dive in.
- Identify the actions (jobs) and understand the business or customer needs
- Find the opportunities - Confidently outline the customer journey
- Create a pain and gain map for each action to determine user value
- Decide what feature to build in the application process
- Develop and launch your minimum viable product
The right roadmap to build a MVP isn’t an overnight process. However, by following the steps listed, it can be achieved efficiently.
Step 1: Determine your business and market needs for the product roadmap
This is the very beginning of creating the minimum viable product roadmap. The first question that you should ask is if this product should really exist? If so, what problems will it solve? You must carry out solid research to understand the market pain points when planning a minimum viable product.
Following this, the next focus should be on setting the long-term goals and the success criteria of the product. Without goals or success criteria, metrics cannot be created for analysis. One such example of success criteria could be a high adoption rate.
This part is also the most challenging as it requires intense research of your target market, audience, competitors, and product alternatives. The product needs could be internal or external.
You can use Value Proposition Canvas for this purpose.
The value proposition canvas is a basic model for ensuring that your product is positioned based on your customers’ values and their needs. This is necessary for ensuring the product will be successful when launched.
Step 2: Outline the Customer Journey for the product roadmap
The next logical step in creating the roadmap for a MVP is to identify the end-users. You can do this by outlining user journeys. Think about the user's actions that get value from the product when you do this.
In this step, unlike the previous step, the focus should be on:
Identifying the target customer
By identifying the user persona and finding your target customer, you can get a better idea of what they want in a product and what actions they take to get that particular product.
To identify the target customer correctly, it’s always a good business idea to do two things. First, interview or get information about the different users, whether they are real or potential ones. Then understand the key points of what type customer they are, so you can narrow down and pinpoint them in order to ensure the answer is not too broad.
Doing these two things should give you a well-rounded idea of your target customer.
Identifying the story endings for the customer when using the product
What is the main result you would like to achieve from the customer? A sale? Interaction with the product? Determining the end goal is key when it comes to truly understanding what the customer has to do to reach this endpoint on user journeys.
Deciding what action you would like the customer to take to achieve the target
Now you’ve got the end result down, how do they get there? You do this by drawing the route that the customer will take, taking into account all the different interactions the user will have with the business idea. This is one of the most important parts and takes up the majority of the time when you map out the user journey.
By doing these user journey steps, you will see the different customer segments with clear differentiation on what actions will add more value for the active users. This information is vital when deciding what needs to be developed first in the minimum viable product.
Step 3: Plan a pain and gain map for the product roadmap
The next step is to chart out the pain and gain map for the user. It will help you categorize the pain points and what could be the possible value/gain a user might have with your product.
You can decide what features are essential for the minimum viable product and what features can be deferred for future releases in this pain and gain map.
With the pain and gain map, try ranking each feature out of 10 to understand gain and pain points to help you decide if a certain feature is worth the pain for the overall value and user satisfaction it creates.
Step 4: Decide on the different features to be built for the product roadmap
Here, you need to brainstorm and prioritize features for the MVP process. While deciding on all the features, always keep your end customers in mind. There are a few different models that help find important features; they include:
You can use opportunity statements to determine the scope of the minimum viable product. The opportunity statement is a model for assessing different ideas for features, helping you prioritize features that should be put forward for approval or ignored.
Another good idea is to use a MVP prioritization matrix to decide on the features with high impact followed by medium impact ones. The prioritization matrix is ideal for deciding which features are crucial and should be added straight away and which ones aren’t as necessary and can be done later.
Keep in mind that the different models, such as the prioritization matrix, can be used with other frameworks to help identify features that are necessary.
You can also use the MoSCoW approach for identifying the must-have features in your product. But what is the MoSCoW approach? It stands for the following: must-have, should have, could have, and would like. By putting the features into these different sections, you can prioritize features based on which ones need to be implemented and which ones aren’t as important.
Step 5: Launch your MVP using the product roadmap
Once you have completed your MVP, the next step is to launch it and get user feedback. It’s crucial to track the key metrics to evaluate the results during the launch. If you have a negative result, you don’t need to worry. As highlighted, the MVP development is a way to validate the assumptions and test the product with real users while minimizing development costs.
So you have your MVP product roadmap; now what?
By following the above steps, you would have decided on a customer persona, user pain points, and opportunity statements. You then defined the scope of the MVP and developed it.
Of course, now your focus is on bringing it to market. However, remember that the MVP development phase is an iterative build, measure, learn process. The success of the MVP development roadmap depends on the feedback from your end-users, with the intention for the product to be continually improved.
You need to ensure to collect data for the feedback on your MVP to iterate for future releases. If users are satisfied with the features, the product is accepted. If not, you should analyze what went wrong and identify which features caused the issue, as it may not be as valuable as you first assumed.