Step-by-Step Checklist to Build a Minimum Viable Product

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07.07.2022
What is the MVP Development Process?

The development of a new software product is a process that allows you to go from the idea stage to the stage of implementation and launch.

At the stage of developing the MVP, an idea is thought out, the concept’s success is analyzed, an evaluation is carried out, and ways of implementation are selected. In this article, we identified 15 MVP development steps to go a new digital product to market.

What is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

MVP – is a minimum viable product for testing market demand without significant investments. Essentially, it is a way to bring a software product to market quickly. The product team identifies a problem, analyzes the target audience, market, and competitors, develop critical functionality and receives the first feedback from users.

The concept was coined in 2001 by Frank Robinson, co-founder and president of the consulting firm SyncDev. He defined MVP as the result of “synchronous development” or the simultaneous development of a product and research of the target audience. An MVP differs from a prototype in that it is a working product that must perform the designated function in the best possible way. For example, it may be a beta version of a web application, the functionality of which will then be supplemented by studying the behaviour of the first visitors.

Minimum viable products are wider than startups. This concept can be used in an existing business. To launch your successful project on the market, familiarize yourself with the basic principles of the build MVP.

Stats Emphasizing the Need to Build an MVP

Startups, corporations, investors, academics and journalists all wanted to get an answer to a question: “Why do startups fail?”

Let’s take a look at some eye-opening statistics:

  • The number one reason startups fail is due to a misunderstanding of market demand, which occurs 42% of the time. (CB Insights)
  • 56% of 100% of startups fail caused of Marketing Problems.
  • Marketing mistakes were the biggest killers, and the biggest problem was the lack of product-market fit.
  • 6% of 100%of startups fail caused of Tech Problems.
  • The biggest mistake is over-investment in expensive technology (developer time) before the marketing assumptions have been validated.
  • 18% of 100% of startups fail caused of Team Problems.
  • Lack of technical knowledge, lack of marketing knowledge (and plan), and lack of business knowledge are the biggest killers.

These statistics highlight the need to validate an idea before embarking on a costly development. The MVP idea is in line with the “Lean Startup concept”. The main goal of developing a minimum viable product is to test the concept/product on the market. Based on its results, a business can make decisions about launching.

MVP Building Basic Goals

Why is it essential to create an MVP?

  • Check Product-Market Fit. Businesses can test startups’ concepts before Launch, understand market demand, and get early users.
  • Minimize development costs. Developing an MVP will need a minimum of resources. Therefore, removing unnecessary features and implementations will reduce initial costs.
  • Testing a minimum viable product. MVP allows businesses to test a product idea and assess the validity or invalidity of their business plan.

Benefits of Minimum Viable Products For Businesses

Creating an MVP provides direct and indirect financial benefits. It allows businesses to:

  • Get feedback from the target audience to refine the product before its release to the general market;
  • Get the product to market faster and make some profit even before the development process is completed;
  • Convince investors of more serious funding to complete the development.

What is the MVP Development Process?

MVP Development is a complex process; if you follow it step by step, you will get certain benefits:

  • A step-by-step plan will allow you to make as few mistakes as possible;
  • It is easy to assess the need for the product, to understand its main tasks;
  • Marketing of the product and ways of its promotion is thought out in advance;
  • Prospects are evaluated, and risks and negative factors that may affect the final cost are determined;
  • A clear vision of the final result is formed;
  • The time to develop a new product is reduced; some stages are carried out in parallel, which allows you to control the process and speed it up.
What is the MVP Development Process

We’ve prepared a checklist to get you closer to the moment you say: “I’m ready to launch a digital product!”

MVP Development Stages

Building an MVP for startups is not much different from developing a software product in general. The steps are more or less similar, but the speed and goals differ. How to create a minimum viable product?

MVP development stages

We will guide you through the critical steps in the MVP development process.

1 part – Preparation

Stage 1. Finding a problem, and formulating a goal

Write the market gap that the product shall fill. Clearly state why you are building this product. Determine how you will identify whether you have been successful. The more detailed and precise the goal is, the more effective your development team will be.

  • What is the company’s business model? 
  • Is there a market for this product?
  • What is the current market situation?
  • What challenges does the product solve?

Stage 2. Select the target audience and its segmentation

Immediately, we note a common mistake of product managers and entrepreneurs. Some in these roles believe that their proposal addresses the needs of all people on the planet. And this, of course, is far from being true.

  • Who are the future customers? Describe the Idea Customer Persona (ICP).
  • What are the different types of users who will use your product?
  • What are the core features that will satisfy the users’ needs?
  • What will the needs of the audience be covered by your product?

Stage 3. Analysis of competitors

Analyzes your direct competitors. Highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and identify your competitive advantage. And only then can you start developing the critical functions of your MVP.

  • Who are the competitors? Who are the most prominent players in the market? What is their market share?
  • How are they presented on the market? Investigate how your future competition is marketing itself. Conduct analytics.
  • What do your potential customers like about your competitors?
  • What do your potential customers dislike about your competitors?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors? Use this information to differentiate yourself.

2 part – Planning

Stage 4. Meet the development team

Before you act, you must spend time synchronizing with colleagues. Define the principles inherent in the development of MVP. Set rules and make sure the entire product team consistently enforces them.

  • Does your team have experience in building MVPs?
  • Does your team have expertise in the technologies required to develop your product?
  • Does the team understand the product’s value, goals, needs, and audience behaviours?
  • Have you defined a development model? Preferably Agile.
  • Have you assigned roles to team members? Make sure your expectations are clear and measurable.
  • Don’t forget about plan spending for both the build & post-launch activities. Make sure the development team signs off on the allocated funds.

Stage 5. Development of Customer Journey Map (CJM)

CJM or User Journey Map is the path to purchase from the customer’s point of view. The target audience travels the digital road when interacting with the MVP. Therefore, the simpler and more transparent the CJM is built, the more logical the UX is designed, and the higher the conversion of your product.

  • What should the future product look like to bring the most value to customers?
  • What steps will a user take to perform various tasks? Create “user journeys”  and describe user actions and expectations in “user stories”. Collect all user journeys into a Product Backlog.

Stage 6. Choice of main functions for implementation, prioritisation

Fine! CJM in hand. We must define the essential parts to help the user get from point A to point B. Important: do not overdo it. Always remember that MVP is a product with a minimal set of features. Don’t chase “perfect perfectionism”. 

  • What are the MVP features required to test the product value hypothesis?
  • Assess how important and valuable a particular feature is. How often will it be used? We put popular ones at the top of the list and rarely used ones at the end.
  • Highlight only those features without which your product would not make sense.
  • Develop an MVP framework—everything else – after entering the market and receiving feedback.

3 part – Development

Stage 7. Choose important tasks before development

  • Have you defined the technical stack with your team? Remember that the selected tech stack should provide a reliable and cost-effective path to produce the MVP and the final product.
  • Choice of method of management and development of MVP. For example – Kanban. This methodology involves continuous improvement of the Minimal Viable Product in real-time and complete transparency of all work processes. 
  • Try to use “Jira” for project management. With its help, any tasks and activities divide into successive stages: “prototyping”, “design”, “development”, “testing”, or task completion statuses “to be done”, “in work”, “under review”, “completed”.

Stage 8.  Work through the information architecture

When you know what core feature(s) your MVP will include, the next step is understanding how the user experience will be organized. For example: 

  • What are the steps in the registration flow?
  • How many key screens are needed and what will the navigation look like to reach them?
  • How will you handle onboarding?
  • Which user roles have access to which screens?

The result of this process is called information architecture (IA) and can be broken down into two parts:

  • Defining the product’s content.
  • Determining the content’s hierarchy.

Stage 9.  Use wireframes & prototypes to plan

Wireframes to ensure your user stories and journeys are structured. Prototypes allow you to string them together for validation and iterative improvement of critical user journeys by using personas & actual people.

Stage 10. Ensure the MVP Build addresses compliance/security

  • Identify compliance requirements. 
  • Design a security framework for the product.
  • Work with the development team to ensure the MVP architecture integrates compliance and security from the beginning.

Stage 11. Stay Involved during the development

  • Keep in touch with your team (verification), keep track of the tasks (validation) and ensure you get what you want at the start.
  • Participate in the discussions, reorienting and changing requirements as necessary as the progress provides better insights.

4 part – MVP Launch & Testing

Stage 12. Identify the metrics that define the success/ failure of your product

  • Identify metrics you want to track (for example traffic, engagement, active user count, Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), churn rate, customer satisfaction levels, etc.,)
  • Track these metrics through various means and actively monitor them.

Stage 13. Launch your MVP

  • How should the product be promoted?
  • Identify how and to whom (select users or open for all, for example) you want to launch the MVP.

Stage 14. Collect feedback and react

  • Assemble a focus group for internal testing. Participants can be part of the team, friends and relatives.
  • After successfully passing the first stage, let real users “feel” the product.
  • Run external testing for a week or a month.
  • Collect feedback and analyze what needs to be improved and what features to add.
  • Periodically repeat iterations of “create a feature – test the product – conduct a retrospective.”

Stage 15. Challenges

Lack of product-market fit is one of the biggest reasons — why 34% of startups fail.

  • Remember: launching a successful digital product the first time is not always possible. Sometimes it takes 2-3 iterations to find your product-market fit.
  • MVP iterations are a journey to a successful product release. So, please make the most of them for launching a tech startup.

MVP Building: What is After?

Imagine that the development of the MVP is over. In an ideal world, you spent plus or minus three months on the minimum version. What is after? Spending more time on “perfect pixel” design”? Develop to the state of “ready”? Postpone until going to investors?

Any of these options fail.

“Ready MVP” is about constant market research and searching for new ideas. First, let’s discuss the critical steps after the MVP is released. Then, read the roadmap and find out how MVP meets market needs.

MVP Building: What is After?

1. Marketing for MVP: Find Real Users

On the plane, on the street, in line for coffee, it doesn’t matter. It’s important to talk to real people. Find people who will potentially buy the product (because it solves their problem). If you can find ten people ready to pay, that’s great.

2. Allow Potential Buyers To Test The Product

It can be a demo or a trial version – everything that will allow them to get into the essence and understand “how this app works.” Indeed, just letting users “play” with the product is the most efficient way to start the marketing process for an MVP. 

3. Get Feedback

Find out what users think about the product with questions. Open questions will help you get the most detailed feedback. “Amazing! Wow!” – if you plan to launch marketing for MVP, сompliments are not helpful. We need to know the truth (even if it hurts).

4. Feedback Analysis

  • Collect feedback and analyze what needs to be improved and what features to add
  • Collect requirements for the new features
  • Define the main features for the next release
  • Estimate the scope of work, time for development, and budget

Remember that thousands of satisfied users on a minimum product release don’t usually happen at this stage. If the idea fails (no one needs the product), leave it or try a pivot (startup restart). So, let’s discuss how to avoid failure and what mistakes are often made when developing an MVP.

Development Mistakes to Avoid While Building an MVP

The quality of the launched version of the product can only be assessed by fixing specific success criteria and metrics. Therefore, when preparing for the release, it is necessary to highlight the indicators by which the performance will be monitored: for example, it can be a conversion to a subscription or purchase, the number of downloads, or retention. A good (but not the only) metric is profit — if people are willing to pay to solve their problem, the product is most likely in demand.

Remember the customers who were among the first to test the released MVP – collect information about them, analyze their interaction with the product, and try to ask them directly about the user experience. Feedback is the most valuable thing you can get in the early stages of development.

No focus on making everything “pixel perfect”

When developing an MVP, it is essential to remember that the final product may not be “absolutely perfect” and not have all the intended functionality. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritize the product’s main features and stick to the planned plan.

Quality vs Speed

When creating an MVP, one shouldn’t forget that its main task is to quickly test the product’s value, its “viability”, and user demand using a minimum set of functions. However, keeping a fine line between speed and quality is essential. When a product is released to the market with many errors and bugs, you will not be able to collect feedback from users. Therefore, the MVP test will not allow you to draw relevant conclusions about the value of its functionality.

Lack of analytics

If you don’t collect data on the “place” of an MVP in the market and the interaction of users with it, it is challenging to build a strategy for its further development. Decisions about product improvement must be based on metrics and numbers and be data-driven.

High expectations from the MVP test

When launching the MVP, it is essential to understand that the minimum viable version is necessary for the team to form a pool of hypotheses for the next stage based on audience feedback. It can also happen that the feature that the team believed in most of all “does not like” to users. You should not be upset. On the contrary, it is worth conveying to the team the benefits of this information early on. Agree that it is much more offensive to invest a massive amount of resources in a “non-viable” product and learn about the lack of value in the final step of development.

We walked you through how to create an MVP and talked about the importance of problem definition, market research, prototyping, and feedback gathering. So, let’s talk about how to measure success after building an MVP.

How To Measure Success After Building an MVP

The success or failure of the MVP depends on the set goals before development. All indicators will depend on the business goals and the product you plan to develop. As for the metrics that need to be tracked at the marketing stage for an MVP. Metrics such as growth in the number of users, the degree of their involvement, conversion into customers and the percentage of user churn are universal.

How Long Does It Take To Build An MVP?

MVP creating process usually takes from 3 to 6 months. Of course, everything depends on the functions set, design complexity, and human resources engaged in the MVP development process.

How Much Does It Cost To Develop an MVP?

The idea is quite simple: the more complex the MVP, the more expensive it is. But at the same time, you can’t be very lean and develop a product with only one or two features and then hope it will work effectively. 

As we said earlier, there are necessary features that should be implemented. But the main thing is the tools for implementing the critical idea. Therefore, at the stage of its formation, one should understand how the goal will be implemented and what tools should be developed for this. At this time, you can form at least an approximate cost of the MVP.

The most accessible approach is to hire an MVP development agency. In this case, you have two options: an hourly rate or a fixed project fee. A typical MVP development project will take two to four months. Depending on the number of features and the project’s complexity, the MVP  development will cost from $20,000 to $50,000.

Benefits of Working With An MVP Development Agency

If you have read up to this point, you learned the MVP’s meaning, the advantages of this approach, how to develop an MVP step-by-step, and finally, determined further actions for creating your future project.

Launching a new product to the market is complex, and we help make it the shortest and most cost-effective. Each stage has specific tasks and leads step by step from the idea of implementing and promoting the software product. Remember that determining the target audience, generating ideas, testing hypotheses, initial versions and testing – all steps must be completed before the launch of a new product.

Final words

Remember: The key to launching a startup is not in the coolness of the idea but in a well-coordinated team.

At Broscorp, we have developed numerous MVPs for many different projects and helped many startups leverage the value of MVPs. Do you want to make your idea or product profitable? Our experienced team of experts will guide you through the process and help you go live software product in less than 90 days! Get in touch with us to discuss the idea.

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