Conceptualizing the Minimal Viable Product

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

If you have read our series, Building the Foundation, you know the importance of the following:

  1. Understanding the Market

  2. Taking Inventory on your Competition

  3. Identifying your Unique Value Proposition

  4. Using the Right Technology

  5. Aggressively Moving Forward with Caution

Like most entrepreneurs, you are probably wondering: “What is the next step I need to take to turn my non-tangible idea into a product that is ready take to market?”

Well, the next step is to conceptualize the minimum viable product (MVP). In other words, it is time to focus on specifying the features of your application. The list of components you create will eventually set the groundwork for what will become your prototype. The process of determining your features 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 your requirements. It originated from the Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM) and is used and accepted industry-wide. The technique is defined by the following categories:

Mo – Must have.

Any component that is put in this category must be non-negotiable and serve as your product’s core foundation. Theoretically, your product should 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 want to be a part of the MVP, but it is not necessary. If timetables and schedules are at risk, components from this category should be the first to be removed from the product.

W – Won’t have.

These components will not be a part of the MVP, or prototype. They might be implemented in future versions. These features should rarely have any effect on 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 next step in the review process is to eliminate anything in the “Won’t Have” category and shelve the “Could have” features for a later time. At this point, you should only be focusing on the “Must have” and “Should have” components. To maximize the efficiency of this process, use the following techniques to gather input and reflect on your list of components:

  1. Self-Review - Step away from your feature list for a day or two. Then, come back to it and go through every component that you have included in your MVP. You have to make sure you are being as critical as possible to ensure that the features you listed are actually “Must have” and “Should have” components – and, not something that can be omitted from the MVP altogether.

  2. Target User Panel - This method of review involves bringing in a group of people, that match your target audience and, are outside the people, or, groups, you’ve been working with. You want to use this opportunity to find out what features consumers like, and which ones that aren’t as appreciated. One good method to perform this task is called 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 feature set, conducted user research, and looked at it from every imaginable angle, it is time to begin building your prototype from the knowledge you collected.

Utilizing the steps, detailed above, will aid your efforts to avoid wasting time, and, money, building a full product (that has not yet been validated!). The practice of determining and understanding your MVP’s features helps align the needs, and wants. of your customer as it pertains with your product’s final execution.

Here at Innovative Software Solutions, we have a curriculum titled: The Concept Development Program (CDP); which, aims to help take technologically-based concepts and turn them into validated solutions. These solutions are market ready after the completion of the CDP process.

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