MVPs allow you to create, test and adjust as you go along so you know that your final application is right for your end-users. So just what is an MVP and why are they so valuable in application development?
Application development is notoriously complex. It’s easy to get bogged down in technical details without listening to the market. Failing to build tools that serve a relevant, urgent need is a recipe for wasteful spending and ruin. This is where the Agile concept of the minimum viable product comes in. These first draft applications give you hard data to make wise decisions as you navigate new product development.
It’s a good idea to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and test it on early adopters to work out many of the kinks that are naturally part of any app development project. You don’t want to release a full blown application only to find out you have no users. MVPs allow you to create, test and adjust as you go along so you know that your final application is right for your end-users. So just what is a minimum viable product and why are they so valuable in application development?
What is an MVP?
There’s some debate in the tech world about exactly what a minimum viable product is. Ask ten people and you’ll get ten answers. These ideas range from what are really clickable prototypes to apps that approach a full set of features. Strict Agile devotees, however, see MVPs as bare bones applications that do a lot of what the full apps intend to do, just not at scale yet.
Where a full-blown app would automate most of its processes, MVPs are still largely manual. These apps still collect user data and behave like an app in the real world, but their main goal is to show how end-users interact with it. This can give developers and business leaders valuable insight into how the final app will perform in the real world — and to make changes while it’s still affordable to fix. Demystifying this term is essential to understanding an important step in the agile development process.
Additionally, agile developers see MVPs as apps that give teams the most insight for the least amount of effort. These minimum viable products function as the earliest versions of apps to test whether the final application will resonate with users. Complex software development projects are iterative. The Agile Alliance backs this up and highlights the MVP’s role as a learning tool in new product development. Each iteration should improve on the last version and adapt to the needs of the target user. MVPs are the first drafts — the first working version, but with lots of areas to edit still.
MVPs at Applandeo
Even the best developers or business leaders cannot predict how the general public will behave and interact with a new application. What may seem intuitive or necessary to a development team at a whiteboard is not always the case for users in the wild. That’s why it’s essential that any new app go through an MVP stage to see how people use it. MVPs will let you flag items to fix or features to omit before you’ve invested too many resources into the project.
At Applandeo, we keep up with the needs of customers from various industries. As a software house, we focus on customizable solutions that best fit the client’s business. We often collaborate with companies that want to research the market and are looking for end customers. With MVP development, they can more easily present the idea, its development possibilities and collect feedback. Obtaining knowledge at this stage is not only easier, but it saves the cost of a mistake that could incur in case of a complete system built wrongly.
Presenting one solid built MVP to different end-customers is another advantage that is beneficial for both sides. Suppose the main idea and the core of a solution are universal. In that case, it is much easier to present the same MVP and decide how to customize further and adapt it following the individual project requirements. In turn our client can use the system to expand his end customers’ network and enter new markets and industries.
We act as technological support. We gain domain knowledge of various industries. We know how to help and work with clients on what an MVP should be, to create another usable and functional system without significant losses finally.
What is the Purpose of a Minimum Viable Product?
MVPs give developers and business leaders key data on how people will interact with the app in the world. You could ask people what they want and what they think of the application, but this type of data is often skewed. This type of subjective data may not reflect the reality of the market. People often don’t not know what features they want until they’ve seen it in action. It’s far more valuable to simply observe and make adjustments in the next versions of the app. The results will be more accurate and you can flag places to improve as you go along.
Products that have gone through an MVP stage haven’t been rushed to market and so they have a much greater chance of success. In any new product development project, it’s good to take the path of least resistance and to listen to the market. MVPs give you the chance to test and observe throughout the development process so you end up with the app that you and your users want.
Developing an MVP in agile is less risky than going ahead with a full-feature application. In fact, it’s the point of the Agile methodology to begin with. Every step of an agile development project goes through predictable, testable stages — including the MVP — so by the time your app is in the hands of users, you can be certain that it’s a product that works and addresses a market need.
Benefits of Building an MVP
MVPs are a vital part of agile development projects.
MVPs give vital insight into how your users will interact with your app
Testing your minimum viable product on a sample group gives you the chance to adapt and change the product to best fit the needs of users
MVPs are products with the minimum amount of resources, so it’s far less risky to test out ideas and new products
MVPs give you a working product and hard user data to show to investors and other key stakeholders
Why should we use the Agile methodology for MVP development?
All stages of an agile development project build on assumptions and test those assumptions to be sure that the product you end up with fits a clear and urgent need. MVPs are no different and exist to prove an idea will be viable in the real world. The Agile methodology splits product development into manageable “sprints” or iterations. Each new set of changes goes through a sprint retrospective to be sure the product still fits the vision and needs of the market.
Agile contrasts with older methods such as the Waterfall method in which companies would write a detailed brief and hand it off to their development teams only to get a finished application once it’s “finished.” However, these waterfall projects often fell short of expectations or deviated from the original plan. Even if developers created an application exactly to specification, it’s impossible to predict exactly what kind of features the public will want. Obviously a waterfall app that doesn’t fill a need is immensely wasteful for developers and business leaders alike. It wastes time and resources for businesses and leads to mutual dissatisfaction for everyone involved.
Agile, meanwhile, attempts to prevent this mismatch of expectations. Its methodical approach to software development puts developers and business leaders — often a designated “product owner” — together throughout development. This allows the product owner to shift priorities or introduce new features during production. It often happens that business leaders have an initial idea for an app, but end up with a totally different end product that actually fits a market niche.
This constant testing and adjustment is the main benefit of developing with the Agile methodology. Part of that is the MVP. By that late stage of development, you’ve already gone through many previous iterations and sprints and finally have a working application. But development is far from over, of course. Agile MVPs give you the flexibility to test out your ideas and be sure that it’s what you want, and what the market wants as well.
It’s less risky and less wasteful to develop an MVP because by that stage in development you will have only invested a minimum amount of labor for a working product. This frees up resources to continue to edit and adjust your MVP into a full-feature application or to start over depending on how the public responds.
Application development is a tricky and unpredictable field so it’s wise to test your assumptions through the development process to be sure that you and your target users are aligned before you release your new app to the market.
Agile development assumes that your initial assumptions about a product will be wrong and you’ll have to constantly tweak and adjust your product many times before you launch it. A minimum viable product is an essential part of this process and enables you to test your product before you’ve invested too much time and money into the product. You may have a great idea — and one that will translate into a great final app. But it’s just as likely you won’t and your original idea will have to go through several iterations before it becomes the successful product you envision.
MVPs put a bare bones product in the hands of a target group so you can see how they interact with it. You can add or remove redundant features to edit your first draft of the app to create a product the public actually needs. So much of software development is a gamble. Balancing risk and reward is a difficult thing to predict.
Agile development, however, takes some of the guesswork out of the equation. By testing and editing our application along the way, you can be much more confident that the application will be a market success.
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