You have put together a great idea, and built it into a solid foundation, but what else needs to be done before you can take it to the market and reap the benefits? The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage is crucial to be able to focus in and specify the details of your idea before you begin introducing it to the masses. Your MVP should end up being a list of components what will eventually become your prototype. The process of creating your MVP should be executed in the three stages - DO, REVIEW, DO.
Stage 1 - DO: It’s now time to begin to think about the exact specifications and how it all fits together. Start spinning ideas in your head and create a list of all components that you could imagine putting in your prototype. A popular process called the MoSCoW method is a technique that helps prioritize all of your requirements. It originated from the Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM), and is used and accepted industry-wide. The technique creates the following categories by which you should organize all components that might be part of the MVP:
Mo – Must have.
Any component that is put in this category must be non-negotiable and strike at the core purpose of your product.
Your product would fail without these features.
S – Should have.
Anything that is put in this category is not necessarily critical, but it is of high enough importance that these features should be included in the MVP.
These aspects are important because the users view them as having high value.
Co – Could have.
A “Could have” feature is something that you (the designer) want to be a part of the MVP, but it is not necessary. If timetables and schedules are at risk, components from this category will be the first to be removed from the product.
W – Won’t have.
These components will not be a part of the MVP, prototype, or maybe even the first release of the product, but they might be implemented in future versions. These features should rarely have an affect the success or functionality of the product.
Stage 2 - REVIEW: Once you have organized all of the different features into one of the four categories from the MoSCoW method, the first step in the review process would be to eliminate anything in the “Won’t Have” category and shelve the “Could have” features for a later time. Now, you should only be focusing on the “Must have” and “Should have” components. After that, use the following couple of ways to gather input and reflect on your list of components so that you can efficiently and effectively modify which aspects should and shouldn’t be included in the MVP.
1. Self-Review - Step away from your MVP for a day or two. Then, come back to it and go through every component that you still have included in your MVP. You have to make sure you are being as critical as possible to ensure that the features you are listing are actually “Must have” and “Should have” components – not just something you wish could be in the MVP.
2. Target User Panel - This method of review involves bringing in a group of people outside the people or groups you’ve been working with that match your target audience. You want to use this opportunity to find out what features consumers like and which ones aren’t as appreciated. A good way of doing this is A/B tests. This type of test involves creating two versions of your MVP and showing it to the Target User Panel. You would talk to the panel about which features they liked, didn’t like, or felt was missing.
Stage 3 - DO: So now that you have a fleshed out your idea in a practical MVP layout, conducted user research, and looked at it from every imaginable angle, it is time to take your learning and fold it back into either another MVP for further testing, or begin building your prototype.
By taking these 3 basic steps you will have avoided wasting your time and money building a full product that has not yet been validated. The MVP process is invaluable for aligning customer needs and wants with your final product execution.