“Is it ready?”
“Is it ready yet? When’s it going to be ready?”
“How about now? Is it ready now?” Waiting for your mobile app to be ready for the market sometimes sounds like the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” routine in the family car.
Now consider what that car would sound like if your destination proved to be twice as far as expected, and you followed the wrong directions to get there. How patient will those kids in the back of the car be then?
And yet that’s exactly what happens with many software projects. Projects end up being twice as big as they need to be because they included too many features they didn’t need. And the software development team’s processes are either not efficient enough or not adhered to tightly enough – causing unnecessary delays in the journey.
It’s no wonder, really, when business leaders and stakeholders start sounding like the children in the back of the car. Unfortunately, that can lead to launching your app too soon, which can be just as bad – or even worse – than arriving to market late.
So how can you tell when your mobile app is ready for the market?
With a concept known as the “minimum viable product” (MVP).
Using Scrum can solve the problem with bad directions – following the Scrum framework faithfully eliminates those inefficient processes which are causing the delays in your progress.
But the issue of taking too long to reach the market because you’re building more than you need can be solved by finding your MVP.
What is the Minimum Viable Product?
In traditional software development, you launched a product when it was done – fully featured and encompassing everything within the project’s scope. In the fast-paced world of mobile app development, you don’t have time for that.
A minimum viable product is the quickest route toward getting your app to market.
Techopedia defines MVP as:
“A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.”
What’s the difference between an MVP and a demo?
Some people might think this definition of MVP sounds like a demo. But that’s not true at all.
A demo is just that – a demo. It’s designed to give users and/or investors an idea of what the product will be like.
A minimum viable product is just what its name implies, too – a product. It’s a product that can be put in front of actual users, launched, and sold.
So to be classified as the minimum viable product, it has to be useful and provide value to real customers. Until you have that, you don’t have an MVP.
Three Main Characteristics of an MVP
According to Techopedia, an MVP should exhibit three main characteristics:
- Has enough value that people are willing to use it or buy it
- Demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters
- Provides a feedback loop to guide future development
Once you satisfy these three conditions, your mobile app is ready for the market.
But that doesn’t mean your mobile app might not be ready sooner.
Focusing on the Minimum
Many companies trying to create an MVP get the “viable product” part right, but miss on the “minimum” part.
A true minimum viable product is not the smallest product you can build with all the features users say they need. It’s building the minimum number of features for it to be a viable product. All while delivering value to the customer, of course.
LeanStack’s article on Minimum Viable Products addresses this, adopting a stricter definition of what “minimum” means for a mobile app.
And Eric Ries, who first coined the MVP phrase, suggests this as well in a quick video on what minimal features means to him. “Take what you think is your minimum viable product and cut it in half,” he says. “And then cut it in half two more times.”
The whole point of an MVP is not to deliver the smallest full-featured product you can, but to deliver the fewest features you can while being able to sell a viable product.
Getting your minimum viable product to market allows you to start a customer feedback loop, which will provide the best information on what your next feature should be. And then the next, and the next, and so on…
What’s Your MVP?
Think about your own mobile app or mobile app idea.
What features do you think you need for it to be a viable product? Now take Eric Ries’ advice and halve it. Then halve it again. And again. What do you have left?
Better yet, what’s one feature you could sell (or build around) as a viable product? Why not start there?
With a minimum viable product, you’ll get to market so much quicker. Then you’ll be able to build out your mobile app with real user feedback and market data. And that sort of information will always lead to better results than guesswork.