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27/100 - What is a Minimum Viable Product? | MVP Vs MMP | Types of MVPs


Understanding the Concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in Agile Development

The concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a fundamental part of initial stages of an Agile Development approach. The term, which emerged from Lean Startup principles, is often misunderstood or misapplied. In this blog, we will explore what MVP truly means, its importance in Agile development, and how to effectively implement it.


In the previous article we looked at 'Planning for GenAI Projects'. In this article, we will explore what is the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in detail through below sections:


What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?


This concept originated from Lean Startup methodologies, popularized by Eric Ries around the early 2010s. Rooted in Lean Manufacturing principles, the MVP approach was adapted to suit the rapid and iterative nature of modern product development, especially in the tech industry. It emerged as a response to the need for faster, more efficient product development cycles that focused on actual customer feedback and real-world product validation, as opposed to traditional lengthy and often speculative planning processes.


Ries' articulation of MVP as a strategy to "learn as much as possible about customers with the least effort" revolutionized the way startups and established companies approached product development, placing a greater emphasis on adaptability, customer feedback, and iterative design.

An MVP is the simplest version of a product that can be released to the users for learning and feedback.

It includes only the essential features that solve a core problem for a specific set of users. The primary goal of an MVP is to gather maximum validated learning about customers with the least effort.


The Key Characteristics of an MVP:

  1. Minimalism: It includes the minimal set of features to solve a specific problem and satisfy early adopters.

  2. Feedback-Oriented: Designed to elicit feedback from users to guide future development.

  3. Iterative Process: MVP is not a one-time product but a process of continuous development based on user feedback.

  4. Risk Mitigation: Reduces the risk of developing products that customers do not need or want.

What is a Minimum Viable Product? | MVP Vs MMP | Types of MVPs

The Importance of MVP in Agile Development:


In Agile development, the MVP approach is integral for several reasons.

  • Speed to Market: MVP allows for a quicker launch, ensuring a faster time to market.

  • Customer-Centric Development: By focusing on user feedback, development is aligned with customer needs.

  • Resource Efficiency: Prevents over commitment of resources to untested features.

  • Learning and Adaptation: Facilitates a learning loop – build, measure, learn – essential for adapting to market needs. (Also check Guide to Product Roadmaps)


Implementing an MVP in Agile Projects


1. Identify the Core Problem

Understanding the primary problem or need your product addresses is crucial. Engage with potential users and stakeholders to define this clearly.


2. Define Key Features

Select the essential features that solve the core problem. Avoid the temptation to add more features than necessary.


3. Develop and Release

Build the MVP focusing on simplicity and usability. Release it to a targeted group of users who are likely early adopters. (Also check Agile Release Planning)


4. Gather Feedback

Collect and analyze user feedback meticulously. This feedback is gold dust for the next iteration of the product.


5. Iterate and Improve

Use the feedback to iterate and improve the product. Continually refine and enhance, adding features based on validated user needs.


Challenges in MVP Development

  • Feature Creep: Avoid adding too many features too soon.

  • User Engagement: Engaging users effectively for feedback can be challenging.

  • Market Misunderstanding: There's a risk of misinterpreting the market needs if the MVP is too minimal.

 

MVP Vs POC Vs MMP

When discussing product development, particularly in the context of Agile methodologies, it's crucial to understand the differences between Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Proof of Concept (POC), and Minimum Marketable Product (MMP). Each of these terms represents a distinct stage or aspect of developing a new product or feature. Here's a table that delineates these differences:

Aspect

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Proof of Concept (POC)

Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)

Purpose

To validate a product idea with real users and gather feedback for iterative development.

To demonstrate the feasibility of a concept or idea, often internally before product development.

To deliver a product with enough features to satisfy early customers and be ready for the broader market.

Focus

Testing hypotheses about market needs and product usability with the least effort.

Testing technical feasibility or a specific aspect of the product, such as a new technology.

Providing a product that is polished enough for a wider release, focusing on customer satisfaction and usability.

Features

Only essential features to address the core problem for early adopters.

Typically limited to the functionality necessary to prove the concept.

More features than MVP, focused on both essential and additional features that make the product marketable.

Target Audience

Early adopters and initial users.

Internal stakeholders, developers, and sometimes a small group of users.

A broader market segment or the general public.

Outcome

Feedback and data on product-market fit and user preferences.

Understanding of the technical feasibility and potential challenges.

A product ready for launch with potential for commercial success.

Risk

Relatively low as it involves minimal investment.

Low to moderate, primarily related to time and resources for development.

Higher, as it involves more features and a broader release.

Iteration

High; MVP is part of an iterative process involving multiple cycles of feedback and improvement.

Low; POC is often a one-off experiment.

Moderate; MMP may undergo iterations based on market feedback post-launch.

Understanding these distinctions helps teams and businesses allocate resources effectively, target the right audience at each stage, and develop products that are not only technologically sound but also meet market demands and user expectations.


Types of MVPs

 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a strategy used for fast and quantitative market testing of a product or product feature. There are several types of MVPs, each serving different purposes and contexts. Here are some common types along with examples:


Landing Page MVP:

  • Purpose: To gauge customer interest through a simple webpage describing the product or service.

  • Example: Dropbox famously used a video on a landing page to explain its file synchronization concept before the product was fully built.

Wizard of Oz MVP (also known as a Flinstones MVP):

  • Purpose: To give the appearance of a working product, but behind the scenes, tasks are done manually.

  • Example: Zappos began by posting pictures of shoes online, buying them from stores when ordered, and shipping them to customers.


Concierge MVP:

  • Purpose: To manually deliver the service to customers as if it were automated, unlike the Wizard of Oz MVP where the manual effort is hidden.

  • Example: Food on the Table (now part of Scripps Networks Interactive) started by personally helping users plan their meals and shopping.

Piecemeal MVP:

  • Purpose: To use existing tools and solutions to create the product without extensive development.

  • Example: Groupon initially used WordPress, Apple Mail, and an AppleScript to manually generate PDFs for its coupon business.

Single-Feature MVP:

  • Purpose: To focus on a single, core feature to solve a specific problem or satisfy a need.

  • Example: Twitter started as a platform focused solely on microblogging – short, text-based posts.

Prototype MVP:

  • Purpose: To create a preliminary model of the final product to understand its feasibility and functionality.

  • Example: A new tech gadget, like a smartwatch with unique features, might start as a non-functional prototype to demonstrate design and gather user feedback.


Crowdfunding MVP:

  • Purpose: To validate the product idea and secure funding through platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

  • Example: Pebble Time smartwatch raised funds on Kickstarter, validating the market demand before full-scale production.


Explainer Video MVP:

  • Purpose: To explain a product idea through a video to see if it generates interest.

  • Example: Dropbox, as mentioned earlier, effectively used an explainer video to validate their product concept.


Pre-order MVP:

  • Purpose: To present the concept to customers and ask for pre-orders or sign-ups.

  • Example: Tesla has often used pre-orders to gauge customer interest in new models before starting mass production.


Each type of MVP is suited to different scenarios, depending on the product, target market, available resources, and the type of feedback or validation required. The key in all cases is to learn from customer feedback and iteratively develop the product.

 

Minimum Lovable Product

The concept of a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) is a relatively recent evolution in the product development landscape, expanding beyond the traditional scope of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MLP focuses not just on delivering the bare minimum functionality to satisfy early adopters, but on creating a product that resonates emotionally with users from the outset. The aim is to develop a product that users not only find useful and usable, but also delightful and engaging from their first interaction. This approach emphasizes the importance of user experience, aesthetics, and overall product appeal, with the belief that products which evoke positive emotions and connections are more likely to succeed in the market.


By focusing on creating an immediate emotional bond with users, MLP seeks to foster user loyalty, promote organic growth through word-of-mouth, and establish a strong brand identity from the early stages of product launch.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) plays a pivotal role in Agile development by emphasizing the importance of early and rapid delivery of functional products to the market. It focuses on creating a product with just enough features to attract early adopters, gather valuable feedback, and iterate based on real-world usage. This approach not only ensures efficient use of resources but also aligns product development closely with market needs and customer preferences. By continuously iterating and refining the product based on user feedback, teams can significantly reduce risks and increase the likelihood of product-market fit.

 

The MVP strategy, therefore, is an indispensable tool in modern Agile methodologies, driving innovation and ensuring that products evolve in a way that truly meets user demands and expectations.


Recommended Readings

  • The Lean StartUp - Book by Eric Reis

  • MVP - What is it & how to start - An Atlassian Blog.

  • Minimum Viable Product and How to Build a Startup - A short video by Udacity



Do check out our custom GPT Virtual Agile Coach, which is available on GPT Store.


Author's Bio: As a seasoned Program Manager in a software product company, the author brings expertise in agile methodologies, innovation project management, and a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in managing cutting-edge technology projects.


Coming up in the next blog - 'Product Life Cycle Stages'.

Note 1: This blog is part of a 100 Days of Learning Series on Digital Project Management frameworks and best practices published on Program Strategy HQ. For more details on the 100 days of blogging campaign check out Blog 0.


Note 2: Reach out to programstrategyhq@gmail.com for any queries.


Note 3: Program Strategy HQ Disclaimer for Reference.

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