4 Reasons Why You Need an MVP for Your Project

4 Reasons Why You Need MVP for Your Project

Umbrella IT

A crisis caused by the coronavirus has affected global economy.  Under such uncertainty conditions, business behaviour varies. Some brands fail in the face of unstable market situation, others launch new projects or change existing concepts with a focus on the updated customer needs. There is a significant role of a product speed to market here: companies have to make decisions on the fly and make sacrifice of vital testing steps in implementing a new idea. However, while winning in time, business owners run the risk of losing in quality, in the cost of product development and support, and most importantly, in meeting the needs of the audience.

The article runs on MVP contribution to testing a business idea on real users in a short time and within a fixed budget, and we also share our Umbrella IT experience in building MVP applications.

  1. What is a Minimum Viable Product? 
  2. Why Does IT Project Need MVP?
  3. How to Create a Minimum Viable Product?
  4. How Much Does It Cost to Build an MVP?

1. What is a Minimum Viable Product?

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product with minimum functions that requires minimum resources, but can already be launched and promoted and has sufficient competitive ability.

The minimum viable product methodology is based on the reasonable sufficiency principle. When a business needs to accelerate the launch of a product on the market and get real users feedback, there is no need to bring a new application to perfection - a simple interface with the required minimum of elements turns out to be enough.

The key things in the MVP methodology are speed and fixed development budget. Thorough testing of all ideas may extend for an indefinite period and in terms of quick release, it is more profitable to focus on the implementation of one cornerstone feature.

2. Why Does IT Project Need MVP?

MVP is mostly perceived as an unfinished product, therefore, a question arises: why should any money be spent on its creation? However, such perception is misguiding. Minimal - does not mean "unfinished." A minimally viable product is a finished solution that cover one key need of  a client.

Building an MVP is intended to solve some significant tasks faced by business owners.

2.1. Checking Idea in Practice

Let’s say, you have an idea aimed at solving a problem where the actual market offers do not keep up.  But this is not always that an idea that seems bound to be successful does resonate with the audience. Even if you are 100% sure of the solution, it may fail to succeed. The easiest way to see it with your own eye is to scroll through popular categories in the App Store or Play Market: they are overcrowded with identical online training apps, discount services, and social networks. But only a few of them survive the market selection and become top apps.

Focus on your own ideas about what the client needs is the straightest way to the project failure. This is the situation where the creators of the Adkeeper app found themselves. The idea was simple: users can save the advertisements they liked. On one hand, the customers get an opportunity to use the offer that impressed them later. On the other hand, it can be a quality indicator for advertisers. The app creators expected  such practice could help to turn back the clock and fill the Internet with truly beautiful 70s-style ads instead of tasteless banners. The idea attracted investments, and the application was launched. However, the investments of $43 million did not contribute to the service attractiveness for the customers: it appeared to be that no one wanted to interact with advertisements in this way.

MVP suggests refusal of the complete-first-and-test-after concept. Instead, you spend minimum time and resources to check a new idea, and will only start to complete the rest after you have got the confirmation that the product is in demand with the audience.  You do not act blindly while improving the app design or adding new features, but with a focus on real users feedback.

2.2. Collecting Information For Complete Product

From the very start you know that the product is meant to be multifunctional and complex. But there are some details to be cleared at the initial stage before developing any large-scale product:

  • to define more accurately the target audience,
  • to check functions that cast doubts,
  • to choose one of the solution variants,
  • to minimize eventual risks.

In such case MVP software development is a reliable method to test your hypothesis before financing the complete product development.

Products and projects vary, therefore, MVP form may vary as well. Dropbox used as MVP a small video to explain from the point of view of the user how the future product was going to work without going deep into technical details. The video was  enthusiastically accepted by potential clients and the project was developed further on. Today, Dropbox is one of the most popular file hosting services.

2.3. Drawing Investors’ Attention

You have an interesting project and are eager to start its monetization. With that in mind you need a product (that can be physically touched and used as intended) to convince investors in its potential and usefulness. Сreating and launching the MVP on the market is the way to prove that the product meets the needs and trends of the market and clearly demonstrate that your solution does work.

An idea to create Product Hunt website came to Ryan Hoover in 2013 as he needed the way to learn about new products launched and to discuss them with like-minded persons. To make sure that the same need is relevant for the wide audience Ryan started with creating a group for exchanging links with a Linkydink app. An initial ProductHunt version was a mailout with a list of new products Ryan found interesting. In that form already, the idea gained popularity justifying the further expenses for development of a full-fledged website and app. In less than a year, the project attracted investments of $6,1 million.

2.4. Increasing Number of Profitable Projects In-House

Your company has lots of own promising ideas, and you need to secure your business against investing into development of the projects that will not pay off. In this case, the MVP methodology allows running several projects at once with the option to finish at the early stages those projects that found no response from the audience. From Umbrella IT experience, the approach allows the business to reduce the expenses for development of unpromising projects 2 times and more.

Twitter started as a small side project of Odeo podcast platform. In 2005, with Apple's announcement of iTunes podcast platform in the background Odeo was badly in need of new ideas. One of them was a service for sending short status-messages to a group of friends or colleagues. The prototype of Twitter (or Twttr, as it was called at that point) appeared in March 2006. The idea did not seem attractive to investors, but quickly gained popularity among users: within a year, 60,000 tweets were published daily via Twitter. At the end of 2019, the daily monetized social network audience was 152 million.

3. How to Create a Minimum Viable Product

We, in Umbrella IT divide the MVP development into 5 stages.

3.1. Starting activity

To start with, we discuss and define the minimum viable product idea and functionality that is required to solve the user problem. It shall be clear for the user how to use the product and for what purposes. Next, from all the functions, we select the most critical in the new product. This is an analyst who comes to the rescue here - and also determines the time limits and the budget, draws up a mind map, sorts functions by priority. The minimum viable product template is a good tool to explain the steps of determining the viable version.

The stage partially overlaps with the Discovery Phase, we described in the previous article. But even in case you have already done some preparatory research, this does not mean that the first stage of creating MVP can be crossed out. On the contrary, the more information the team receives at the start, the deeper they immerse in the project and the more efficient and more accurately your service will solve the users problem, which means they are more likely to subscribe to or buy your product.

3.2. Preparing prototypes

Having agreed upon the scope and the time frames of the work, the team prepares and approves the wireframes - black and white prototypes of an app interface. This is the “skeleton" of your future product, and already at the MVP stage it is worth designing it as convenient for the user as possible. Otherwise, when the functionality grows wider, you will have to explain to the audience how to use your product - and this requires time and effort. The incomprehensible interface can damp down the enthusiasm of users and lower the rating even of the most innovative product.

When it is crucial for the product to be quickly launched and tested with real users we use design templates that can be customized for the architecture of your project and improved at the following stages.

The finished set of app pages/screens is discussed with the customer, any restrictions are negotiated and fixed.

3.3. Searching IT solutions

The list of activities is subdivided into milestones – time periods within which the certain works shall be completed. It is defined which third-party solutions and libraries may help to reduce time/budget.

Working on time-limited projects the team uses its own library of solutions covering over 100 ready-to-use modules. For example, there is no need to write a user registration form from scratch - you can use a ready-to-use constructor with widgets. Depending on the complexity of the project and the available resources, the Project Manager selects the solutions we have already tested in practice.

3.4. Development

The team proceeds with the development. The complexity and scope of each task directly depends on the agreed timelines and budget.

For example, if a user pays for a product or service in an app, the simplest option is to integrate with one of the popular payment systems (Paypal, Stripe), which provides only a subscription / one-time payment by card. Unsubscribing through the app or synchronizing with the plans, coupons, and discounts will require more time and resources, and most likely, these functions will have to be refused from at the MVP stage.

At the end of each milestone (1-2 weeks) the results are demonstrated to the client.

3.5. Product release

When all MVP milestones are completed the project goes to a testbed for beta testing with clients or product presentation to investors.

As a result, you get a functioning product and remain within the frames of the budget. Further on, the product can be tested with real users: in the form of interview and CustDev, through tracking data of Google Analytic, Yandex.Metrica or similar systems. Based on the results, you can make an informed decision about the future of the project: whether to continue work, or change the concept, or carry the project to completion.

4. How Much Does It Cost to Build an MVP?

The time and the cost of Minimum Viable Product creation vary depending on the  project size. There are several factors that have an effect upon total figures as seen by the client:

  • Degree of app complexity
    It's black and white - it is easier and cheaper to create a news aggregator with the basic features as compared to an e-commerce site with numerous integrations and a complex system of roles with different levels of access to objects. In addition, the price of the project increases if your service requires:
    • multilanguage;
    • integration with social networks;
    • online chats with the option to create groups, share files, use emojis;
    • complex UI / UX with multi-stage forms logic-filled pages;
    • complex file operations: conversion, writing to files.

With each of the above points, the complexity of your future app increases and the cost of MVP increases accordingly.

  • Various devices supported
    The project cost directly depends on the number of devices on which the app is expected to be used, as this increases the amount of work on adapting interface elements and content to different screen sizes. For MVP, it is recommended to start with one version - a web platform for B2B projects or a mobile application for B2C.

These are rare cases, when a tablet version may be required at the MVP stage, but only if the tablet is used as the primary device.

  • Technology stack
    The cost of the specialists engaged in the project depends on the technologies used, as well as on the availability of ready-made solutions and the possibility to integrate with other services, which directly affects the speed of development.
  • Team composition
    As a rule, an MVP development team includes 2 developers (Senior and Middle) and QA Engineer. We also engage a PM (Project Manager) to control an MVP development process. 

More complicated projects may also require UI/UX designer, business analyst, tech lead. This also has impact upon MVP cost.

In our company, the minimum term for creating an MVP is 1.5 months - where a preparatory stage takes 2 weeks on the average, and a month is devoted to the development. This includes:

  • PM works 60 hours;
  • every developer works per 250 hours;
  • QA Engineer works 200 hours.

Since the MVP cost estimation is based on an hourly rate of specialists who are involved in the project, the above figures are relevant for MVP with a simple business logic and a basic functionality.

Have an idea? Build a MVP

Need help in developing MVP? Tell us about your project and get an estimate of the time and the cost taking into account its specifics. Over 10 years, we have completed more than 200 projects on the commercial development market, and we will be happy to help you launch the MVP with the necessary and sufficient functionality. Check out the relevant cases on the MVP service page.