MVP in project management: the path to efficient project success

You have developed a product idea with your team and know that the market needs this product. However, you also know that production will take a very long time, that capital is scarce, that there is little room for error and that your competitors could come onto the market with a similar product at any time. What if you were to launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) on the market?
Wooden blocks with the inscription "MVP" on a blue background.


MVP at a glance

A Minimum Viable Product is a usable product with minimal features. However, these features must be usable and therefore offer a customer benefit. It is the first version of a product that enables early feedback from customers and users. This avoids risks such as the loss of capital if the product is not accepted by the market.
After the product has been launched it can be further developed in accordance with the market feedback. This also means that a certain degree of agility must be present in the company, as this flexibility is the only way to react to feedback and adapt the product. If necessary, there must also be a willingness to discard the product in response to feedback. It is an iterative process of building, measuring and learning.
The MVP has its origins in the lean startup method. This method is about bringing a product to market quickly with as little capital as possible in order to receive early feedback from users. This requires a prototype in order to achieve the best possible ratio of capital to market success through incremental development.

The core components of the MVP approach

The MVP approach consists of three main components, which are explained below: build, measure and learn. However, it is important to ensure that there is always a customer benefit. This means that the problems and needs of the users must be known in order to develop a product that solves and satisfies them and is successful on the market.
„Building” primarily refers to product development. The main focus should be on the core functions and the USP. The core function is important because not too many extra functions should be built in. On the one hand, it slows down the process so that a product cannot be brought to market quickly, and if too much is developed and then the product is not accepted, it is an additional waste of time. Furthermore, it contradicts the principle of the MVP, as it should be a minimum viable product. The USP is the Unique Selling Proposition as a unique selling point that makes the product stand out from the crowd. It shows what distinguishes your product from the competition so that it is recognised and purchased.
„Measurement” refers to feedback from the target group. This can involve measurements, but also surveys and interviews. The form of feedback depends on the type of product. Measurements can be carried out, for example, by determining the number of clicks on a website. This provides information about potential interest, of course in conjunction with many other components. If a visitor immediately closes the page again, it is unlikely that you have gained a customer. In the app stores, you can work with ratings that can be taken into account.
The „learning” consists of integrating the feedback received into the MVP and then incorporating it back into the measurement process, as the iterative process develops the product step by step. However, it can also happen that the MVP has to be discarded. This is particularly the case if the product is not accepted by the target group. In the next step, you will find out why discarding the product should not only be viewed negatively. 

Advantages and challenges of the approach

In addition to the advantages of an MVP, there are of course also challenges. Its use does not always make sense and must be decided on a case-by-case basis.
With an MVP, a company can find out whether the market is open to a new product or not. Of course, market research can also be carried out beforehand, but there is still a difference between an expression of interest and the purchasing process. In addition, concrete feedback from users allows the company to react quickly. This means that the product is developed with the customer in mind right from the start and not at random. This process achieves a high degree of flexibility and significantly reduces the risk of undesirable developments. This automatically reduces costs and also minimises the time required.
As positive as it sounds, there are also some challenges and reasons why MVPs are not feasible for everyone.
In some industries, it is sometimes not an option to launch an unfinished product. To put it bluntly, it would be fatal in the medical or pharmaceutical sector to launch a product on the market that has a high customer benefit but actually still needs further development. Whether an MVP is an option must always be decided on a project-specific basis. 
An example of this is a game developer who for years has only released games that do not really meet the needs of users. The feedback is generally not good. Now the company is trying to respond by releasing updates for the games, but the damage has already been done since the company no longer has a good reputation in the gaming scene. One way to prevent this would be early access. This means that users know that it is an unfinished version and that their feedback is needed. In this way, the company can react to the feedback in a conscious and planned manner, then launch a more mature game on the market, satisfy the users and gain in reputation.
However, a company, regardless of the industry, must realise that no matter how well it has integrated the user feedback, the product may still not be accepted by the market. In the example of the game, there may simply be too much competition. This is precisely why it is important to find the right balance between the finished product and the MVP. If you want to launch a perfect product, the process can take too long and you have missed the window of opportunity for the market launch. However, if the MVP has too many flaws, even the product that has been refined as a result of the feedback may not be bought in the face of strong competition and will be lost to the competition because the unfinished product has jeopardised your chances with customers. 

Tips for using the MVP in project management

Before creating an MVP, the project framework and objectives must be defined. You need to understand what resources are available and what you want the MVP to do: attract new customers, retain existing customers or drive innovation? The MVP must match the objectives and can then be developed according to the problems or needs to be solved. Care must always be taken to produce as little as possible. This must also be kept in mind during production.
The medical example above has shown that an MVP is not always possible. But especially when it comes to a start-up, this would be a good way to save costs. You can see whether the product is gaining a foothold at all and then improve it. But it's also a good option for established companies. Think of the game developer: if your reputation has been suffering for a while, you can use early access to try and turn things around without running the risk of losing even more.


As we have seen, an MVP is a good way of getting a product to market in a resource-efficient way and then gathering feedback for improvements. Especially when, as described in the introduction, there is not much capital available, this approach has its advantages. However, it also has its disadvantages, which depend on the target group and the extent to which you already need a product that is as ready as possible due to factors such as competition. Therefore, this approach cannot be applied universally, but must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

MVP in project management - the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, MVP, Lean

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