What you should know when using MVPs

MVPs are minimum viable products, i.e. products with minimal functionality. It is the first iteration of a product and is used to get early feedback from users and to identify bugs at this early stage. In many industries, however, it regularly takes much longer than originally planned to bring such MVPs to market. But is this inevitable?
Wooden blocks with the inscription ‘MVP’ on a blue background.


The organisation

Developing high quality, unique MVPs is a process in which technology, organisation and process play an important role. 
Every project should start with the definition of the project goal and the corresponding MVP goal. Some MVPs are used to test technical feasibility, others to work out the details of the value proposition or to test the interest of the target audience in general. It does not have to be a product co-developed by the IT department, but can also be a click dummy. A click dummy is an interactive prototype that simulates a user interface and helps to test the usability and user acceptance of a software user interface.
However, the prioritisation of features is crucial, as the product should be one that just works and does not need to have all the features. 
A multifunctional team is involved in the development. This team must be persuaded not to see the development of the MVP as a by-product of the process. A lack of focus on the MVP leads to missed deadlines. Only with sufficient resources is it possible to quickly gain important insights that are necessary for the development of the actual product.

Aspects of the process

MVPs are inherently uncertain. Therefore, quantitative and qualitative methods should be used at the outset to provide early, data-driven answers to possible questions. Small tests in the form of samples or user surveys can also be carried out before the actual development, providing possible insights into the MVP without having to develop the MVP itself.
As with most projects, communication is important. It is not possible to wait days or weeks for answers, either for the team or for the cost and time planning of the project. All options such as email, apps, etc. should be used to get all relevant information. 
With all this information, it should be possible to define and communicate the expectations of the MVP as clearly and as early as possible. Because it is not yet a finished product, it is understandable that you might be ashamed of your first product. However, by the time you get to the point where you are no longer ashamed of the product, it is too late to release the MVP. In other words: Don't wait too long to release it. Even after release, feedback can lead to changes, and it can take some time before a finished product is available.

Between MVP and first releases

It is important to always give the team clear information about the trade-offs between quality, cost and schedule. For MVPs that need to be brought to market quickly, it is better not to define all the requirements at once. Since time and budget are usually non-negotiable, the only options are to be flexible in terms of quality or scope. The customer is unlikely to be flexible on quality, at least as far as the end product is concerned. That leaves scope. In terms of scope, it is important to prioritise the features so that the team works on the prioritised features first and then, depending on the time remaining, on the others. Obviously, the features that are essential for the product to work and be released as an MVP will be prioritised. This prioritised version can then be used to run tests that provide feedback for further development. The product continues to be developed with this version until it is completed. Although the budget adjustment screw has been excluded above, it is still important to keep an eye on the development budget to avoid going over budget.

The technology

In addition to all these points, the technical aspects of product development should not be forgotten. These should be kept as simple as possible when creating the MVP. After all, if you want to launch a product that generates feedback quickly and therefore does not take too much time to develop, you should use options that are easy to develop and well known, rather than options that require a lot of training and therefore start from scratch. You should always check which options have been designed to make development easier. This includes the option to have elements created externally, especially if you are not familiar with them. This can also reduce development costs as the team does not have to familiarise themselves with the process and the process is therefore faster.


However, external providers are not always the best solution, especially as the company naturally wants its own employees to grow with the tasks and thus improve the product. But once the MVP phase is over and development of the full product is underway, these tasks can be taken on by the team itself. The time pressure is still there, but not as much as during the MVP phase.
Therefore, there are a few things that need to be considered when creating the MVP in order to get it to market quickly.

MVPs - the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, MVPs

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.