Building an MVP the Agile Way
Find out why building an MVP has so many benefits and why developing software in an Agile way will let you deliver business value and focus on users' feedback.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) plays a vital role in the success of Agile software development. In this methodology, the product development process is divided into iterations, which allows for a rapid and repeated testing of the working software. With that, development teams can effectively reduce risks and quickly implement required changes, focusing on what’s most important: delivering business value.
Key Benefits of Agile MVP Development
The MVP is your first iteration and, although it’s the end result that really matters, how you start will have a tremendous impact on that result. Doing it right will allow you to enjoy the following benefits:
Quick Customer Validation
You’ll get valuable insights from consumers regarding their preferences and challenges they encounter with your MVP and you’ll get it quickly. If they find it valuable, you’ll know you’re going in the right direction and if they don’t find it useful, you’ll still have the opportunity to test other value propositions. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll learn you should freeze the project, but this quick feedback will allow you to cut losses.
Business Model Testing
The focus on “minimum” in the MVP gives you an opportunity to test if your product concept is well aligned with the business model. It gives you the opportunity to precisely define the target group, understand how it interacts with your application, and what is the best way to monetize it (which brings us to the next point…).
The iteration process which is spread over a longer period of time helps to also plan costs and spread them into chunks. In addition, you prevent overcomplication and adding features that won’t add value, nor bring profit while gaining clarity as to the features in which you can invest more.
How To build an MVP in Agile
For detailed instructions on Agile MVP development, check this article which guides you through the process step-by-step. Below, we outline the key stages of the Agile process.
Validate Your Idea Again and Again
Start by establishing a precise definition of the problem you are trying to solve, how you intend to do it, and for whom. If you don’t ask yourself the right questions at the start, chances are your product will not be useful to anyone. Indeed: this part of MVP building requires you to do thorough research and ask the right questions so that you could tackle the right problems. Here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself in order to avoid a grim scenario:
- Am I solving a real problem?
- Who is my target audience?
- Why does my target audience need this product?
- When or in what situation would they use it?
Analyze Your Competition
It’s more than likely that other companies already offer solutions to the same problem you are trying to solve. That doesn’t mean that you should abandon the idea altogether, but check what your competitors’ solutions are missing; perhaps you will be able to capitalize on that gap (validate again!). In a market that is already saturated with solutions to a wide range of needs, you need to find your niche.
Design the User Journey Towards the Primary Goal
Having validated your idea and analyzed your competition you should be able to establish the primary goal of your new tool. Think about the user journey that will bring users to this goal, bearing in mind that this process should be as simple as possible. There’s no need to think about the features just yet. Once you have defined the user journey, you can start working on the wireframe and design. The easier and more aesthetically pleasing the design is, the more users will try and continue to use your product.
Prioritize the Features for the First Release
If almost 50% of software product features are rarely or never used, why waste time and effort on building them as you prepare for the first release? What features should be included in subsequent iterations of the product? Prioritize components that should be implemented first; you will see that there is no need to implement all the features immediately. Plan a scale-up of your product where features of lesser priority could be added at a later stage. You can use the MoSCoW (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have) method for prioritization; this technique is often used to arrive at a common understanding of the importance of each feature.
Development and Testing
This is a massive chunk of the work. Think about the technology that should be used to develop your product. It’s important to choose the technology that best fits your needs and gives a possibility for further development. Also, think about who is going to support your system, remove bugs or add new features. Ensure the development process is aligned with continuous testing of every implemented feature.
Adjusting the Product To Market Needs
Once you’ve released your MVP and the initial market response was positive, you can start looking for ways to expand your software product. At this point, you are ready to move on to the next iteration and consider adding features that were categorized as lower priority at the start, or new functionalities, depending on the user feedback you get.
Building an MVP is an effective starting point in agile software development that is focused on the users and delivering business value. It’s essentially the first iteration in building software in accordance with the core principles of Agile methodology: building better software solutions in the shortest possible time frame. Its effectiveness stems from regular user feedback and quick response to changing market conditions, so if you want to build software that serves both your customers and your business, start with a Minimum Viable Product.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.