When in doubt: YOU DON’T NEED IT!
MVP is commonly known in the sports world as Most Valuable Player. In software development, we like to use it for “Minimum Viable Product”. To reduce costs without reducing quality, we must first streamline our product to the bare essentials.
A minimum viable product is a very special little nugget of software. It is the essence of what we’re trying to achieve. We wrap up the features and functions we absolutely require to get our product out and create a viable piece of software. This is a crosscut of the application as a whole. Instead of focusing on features, we focus on a smaller subset of quality features. The alternatives are to either include all of the features and reduce quality to get it done quickly or take far too long to get to market. The world is moving too fast for the latter and I don’t believe the prior is ever a good option… That one is just my opinion, but I’m happy to defend it. (Fun fact: I’m mighty fine at making balloon swords and dogs, I’ve even been known to make a butterfly or two. I’m not sure which would be better for defending my opinions, but kids like them.)
It’s worth noting at this stage that an MVP differs slightly from a POC or Proof of Concept. A POC isn’t an MVP but the principle is similar. With a POC, we have a theory regarding our software and we want to build the bare minimum required to prove that theory (or concept). The amount of product required to achieve that is generally not a viable product. (Gives me a great idea for another article, though!)
To decide what you need in your MVP, just keep asking yourself: Do I absolutely need this for my product to fill the need? If the answer is yes, then you need to put it in your MVP. If the answer is no, it may well still be very important, but it can come after the MVP is complete. That’s critical to recognise. MVP isn’t about a feature or function’s importance, it’s about necessity. When in doubt, YOU DON’T NEED IT!
Aiming for a minimum viable product is a really powerful strategy. It helps you build a high-quality product that is really focused on the need you’re trying to fill. It also allows you to start gathering feedback sooner. Feedback is magic. Feedback is essentially free ideas. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
Building a minimum viable product is your quickest and cheapest route to market without reducing the quality of your product. A good MVP is a reduction in features down to the core of what your product is; the basis of its identity. I’ve mentioned before getting cheap, fast, and good, all in one? This is the key. It’s all about keeping close to your core product values and we should be doing that anyway, right? Win-win!