In the previous series, we talked about what MVP is and outlined the structure of work on MVP development.
An MVP is a product that has minimal, but sufficient features to meet the needs of the first customers. It is created to receive feedback from the market and generate hypotheses for further product development.
Let’s give an example: let’s say you want to create a platform for online school. You define the minimum necessary set of functions which the platform should have: the possibility of creating a personal account for a teacher and a student, the possibility to make an appointment, get confirmation of the appointment, the common space where the lesson will take place — a virtual class. This is enough to go on the market and offer the product to the first users. And then, as we go along, you can add various pleasant and useful features: chat, SMS confirmation, integration with the bank for easy payment, your own library, automated homework check and so on, and anything else you can imagine. But the first students are already working!
Here it is interesting to note that 20-30 years ago, when information technology was just penetrating the business and the optimal approach to work was not yet found, the first significant stage was the so-called «prototype», a kind of Potemkin village. In essence, it was a model where nothing worked and you couldn’t use it. Then the project went into development. Now development is done in an iterative Agile approach, in small two-week sprints, with constant testing and adjustments. At that time, Agile was unheard of, and the software was developed in its entirety and for a very long time. As a result, often the customer got something he didn’t want at all. It was time-consuming, costly, and inefficient.
The method was experimentally developed which allowed us, on the one hand, to make a product with the minimum set of features which could be used by the end users, and, on the other hand, to do it in a finite amount of time (3-6 months — the period when the customer is psychologically ready to invest without seeing the result) by a small team (3-10 people) and with a very clear budget. Nowadays MVP concept is the most convenient and responsive to the market needs.
The first stage of MVP development — design of business processes — is extremely important. This is the very beginning, when it is necessary to clearly define the product, to identify the main thing, to sift out all the extras, to crystallize the idea. Usually this happens during the first interviews, which the business analyst conducts with the customer. All source materials and documentation are reviewed, and the main wishes of the customer are clarified.
Clients really appreciate it when we ask them to set budget boundaries. Often you can take something away from the development costs and still not affect the validation of the business idea. As a result, losses and costs are reduced, and the likelihood of MVP success through rapid hypothesis testing is increased!
Another crucial point: if you are going to create MVP, you should have in your team a person who knows all about the future product — a Product Owner. And he must be willing to devote to the project at least 4 HOURS a day for the entire first month of work.
Business analyst conducts an interview with the customer during which the task is defined, all possible information and documentation about the project is gathered, the Product Owner (it can be the customer himself if he has time for it, or whom he appoints) is determined.
And then a fundamentally important moment comes: the definition of the functional perimeter of the future product, in other words, the very minimum set of functions. This is not always easy or painless, so here we have developed an approach on how exactly to highlight the essence:
1. Think WIDE — define the global vision of the product.
2. Think DEEPER — what is the essence of the product? What need is it focused on and how does it satisfy?
3. Define CONTENT — outline key areas, scenarios, roles and functions.
4. Leave the MINIMUM — prioritize between scenarios and functionality.
5. Check VITALITY — clarify the value of the minimum set of scenarios for the client.
And this all allows us to define the boundaries of MVP and collect a holistic picture from the results of all the previous steps.
It happens in different ways, but more often than not, entrepreneurs who create their first MVP projects are at the mercy of their vision and are blinded by the future success of the project. In those situations, our job is to get on the good side of the first customers and give detailed feedback on the product or service.
Now that the business process design is done, we can bring in an architect, who will deal directly with the architectural solution. But we’ll tell about that in the next episodes!