Minimum Viable Product: Why Perfection Is the Slow Way to Failure

Edward Wong

Edward Wong

Head of Strategy

Are you at risk of losing time, money and your competitive advantage with your upcoming software development project? The Minimum Viable Product model might be for you.

If you’re planning to build a new web application, it’s very tempting to want to have absolutely everything envisaged for the application to be built before going out to market. However, “sticking to the plan” may in reality mean losing out entirely.

Let’s take a look at why it can benefit your organisation to launch with a web application that’s not 100% perfect.

Launch a Minimum Viable Product

Releasing your application to market early is a savvy strategy used by established companies and start-ups around the world.

When developing software, we talk about launching with an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. This means that the initial version of your project that is put to market is the most basic, straightforward form of your application that someone will be likely to use. Thinking that your project must be of great benefit to your clients from the get-go, is a sure-fire way to cause unnecessary delay.

What releasing an MVP does is keep you one step ahead of the competition. You’ll also be able to start achieving sales and market share, even though your application may still technically be in development.

What Features Should I Have in my MVP?

When deciding what a minimum viable product should be, it’s good practice to ask the following question when critically considering whether a feature should make the cut:

At the end of the day, if this feature never existed, would people still use my application?

For example, mobile banking applications contain a wealth of useful features – you can see your accounts, make transfers and repayments, locate your nearest ATM and apply for new facilities. Some even allow for cardless withdrawls.

However, if none of those features existed and all you could do was check your balance, would people use it? Yes.

On the other hand, if all of the other features existed, but you couldn’t check your balance, would people still use the application? No.

That’s the one core thing that users could not live without. Therefore, this feature alone would be the minimum viable product.

Learning Through Client Feedback

When designing a project, it’s tempting to think big – when thinking about something that doesn’t exist, your ideas and dreams make for a very exciting prospect.

So it’s entirely possible to get caught up in the detail. You may spend weeks making tweaks to the user experience and suggesting upgrades to the functionality. Perhaps you have some market research to back up your hunches about what your audience wants.

However, until you put the application in your users’ hands, it’s impossible to know. Consider testing your assumptions as quickly as possible. Your client base may surprise you after launch, providing feedback that encourages a change in direction or strategy. The sooner you can gather this feedback with a tangible application, the better.

Adding features and notifying your clients that there is something new to get excited about keeps your application front of mind and helps you to stay in touch with your audience.

Save Development $$$

Releasing an app or launching a website that is fit for it’s initial purpose will allow you to gather user responses and find out which elements actually do need improvement. This can save you money by preventing your business from investing in unnecessary features that you initially thought would have been essential.

Otherwise, it can be possible during development to get trapped in an endless cycle of extra add-ons and features. Allowing this to happen adds to timelines, costs development dollars and holds back your sales.

Work Agile to Craft your MVP

Working with the Agile methodology of software development is a great way to keep the scope of a project contained to features that can only be built and put into production within a fixed development cycle. This will act as a natural filter between features that are must-haves versus features that would be nice to have.

Constant communication with your professional development team will ensure that your project stays on track, even if the goalposts shift mid-project. One of the Agile methodology’s core principles is to allow change to happen, but in a controlled manner. During development, it’s possible to decide that new features or functionality are essential, but only in exchange for features that, if missing or deferred, will have minimal impact on the overall delivery. This can even happen very late into the development process. Such decisions ultimately allow you to tailor your application as you go.

Always be aware of the dangers of changing direction versus wanting more. Adding features will add time. Exchanging features most likely won’t. At the end of the day, what’s most important is releasing the initial version of your application and then refining it.

Once you have an minimum viable product that you know your clients will use, you can gradually turn it into something that they’ll love!

Need help with your Application?

We help organisations deliver their MVPs faster by utilising our experienced agile team members.

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