7 golden rules for MVP development
1. Time is of the essence
First and foremost, you cannot forget what MVP abbreviation stands for. It’s the minimum viable product. The goal is to release it as soon as possible, not to make it perfect. You should keep that in your mind during every phase of the process and let it be the fundamental rule that directs all your actions. But why exactly is it so crucial?
Most importantly, you should always assume that someone else may be working on a similar thing at the same time. If they release earlier, it won’t help that your product is slightly better because users will stick to what they know. You really want to be the first!
Additionally, there is always a level of uncertainty with MVP projects. Therefore, you don’t want to invest too much time and money before you’re certain about the outcome. And, of course, the money itself is frequently an issue, especially if you rely on investors. In this case, you must know very well that even the most patient investors have their limits, so it’s best to assure them regularly that you’re making progress.
For now, let’s leave it at that, but I will admit that our #1 rule will be an ongoing theme during the rest of the article.
2. Start with a thorough market research
When you come up with a fresh, exciting idea, it’s completely natural to feel like you must be the first one ever to think of it. Of course, you might be correct, but it wouldn’t hurt to do some research, right?
So, during the initial strategy and concept stage, you should make sure to:
- get to know your competition, their strengths and weaknesses, see how your solution fits in the environment
- be 100% sure that you can have a competitive edge
- make sure your product goes in line with legal regulations
- get to know your potential customers, create user personas based on surveys and interviews
- create a pricing strategy, compare it with your competition
- prepare a marketing strategy and a budget for it, because you won’t build customer base if no one hears about your product
- and more.
Besides looking at the competition, you should also take a look at your potential customer base. According to CB Insights, 35% of startups fail due to a lack of market need, so try to get a broader perspective on your project, what problems it solves, and what’s its overall value. In some cases, it may be more reasonable to start with a crowdfunding campaign and build a Minimum Viable Audience (MVA) first. And before that, you could even consider inviting your friends for a pizza party and describing your idea to them. You’d be amazed how insightful such meetings can be. Of course, don’t forget to mention that pizza is on you to make them a little more eager to come. After all, who says no to free pizza?
3. Choose your priorities wisely
By knowing your competition and identifying potential market opportunities, you should be able to decide what’s essential about your project. Choose the most significant set of features from the user’s perspective and prioritize them. The worst thing you can do is worry about the details that don’t add real value for users. Accept the fact that MVPs are never perfect because they simply shouldn’t be. Remember the good ol’ time is of the essence™, focus on the most valuable features, and keep things simple.
4. Acquire user feedback as early as it’s possible
Having a team of testers is great, but the honest feedback of actual users is invaluable for the development process. An outside perspective on the project will always bring insights that were missed by people who work on the product on a daily basis. Those new sets of eyes will help you polish the idea, detect bugs, and even think of new features.
Additionally, it helps you remember that the initial idea might be all yours, and it may feel like a project of a lifetime, but in the end, the product should be designed for users. So always keep in mind what will be the best for them. Most usually, it will go in line with what’s good for your business. It’s another reason why you shouldnt implement too many features too early. It’s always better to let the public decide what they feel is essential and what isn’t.
5. Make the correct decision - start your own team or hire an agency?
It’s always a tough decision for a founder, but there are several questions that, if answered, can make it much more manageable.
What’s your budget?
Starting a new development team involves considerable costs that many startups are not ready for. First, the actual cost of hiring developers. If you decide to hire an agency, it may cost you from 3 to even 12-months of programmer’s salary per hire. You may try to look for developers on your own, but the task will be extremely difficult and time-consuming without the recruitment know-how. In some cases, it may even be impossible because developers with skills that you need are simply unavailable. I elaborate more about this subject in this article.
Of course, even if you’ve managed to gather a few good developers, you still might need a project manager, UX designer, some form of an HR department, and maybe someone else, depending on the type of your project. Not to mention costs like office space, insurance, etc.
Now, wouldn’t you prefer to use that money for actual product development?
How much time do you have?
Teambuilding takes a lot of time. Apart from the time to find people, your team will need several weeks to get to know each other, develop teamwork and establish an efficient process.
If you’re playing a long game and you can afford to spend that time and money, building your own team from scratch may actually be a completely valid strategy. In other cases, we would suggest hiring a skilled software house. It will give you access to experienced developers that know how to work with each other and allow you to start the project much faster.
6. Make sure you’re choosing the right company
The search for a perfect software house is like mushroom hunting. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll end up perfectly satisfied. If you don’t, the consequences can be deadly. There are a few questions that can help you find the right partner.
Do they know your industry/technology?
As a software house that specializes mainly in bioinformatics and blockchain, we stick to our specialization. We’re able to develop those kinds of projects efficiently and use our experience to make them even better. So, in search of a team for your project, look for similar ones in their portfolio. A good development agency that knows your industry can also play a role of a consultant and use their expertise to help you make better decisions and avoid mistakes not only on the technical but also business development level.
Do they have experience in MVP development?
Trust me, MVP development has its own rules and the last thing you want for your MVP project is hiring a software house that has no MVPs in their portfolio. The process requires a specific approach in terms of speed, focus, and teamwork. Teams with experience have an established set of rules for efficient MVP building and skillful developers that are perfectly familiar with those rules.
How do you feel talking to them? Does it “click”?
Communication on a purely human level is one of the most undervalued aspects of those kinds of partnerships. A good personal connection builds a sense of togetherness and a common goal. In addition, those kinds of relationships facilitate the development process and result in much better outcomes on a purely business level.
The decision is not permanent!
Last but not least, remember that hiring an agency doesn’t mean you can’t start building your own team later on. A good software development agency will provide you with detailed, clear documentation about your project, which will allow any developer team to pick up the project and continue the work effortlessly.
7. Become an involved product owner
Taking the role of a product owner will put you behind the steering wheel. There is no better assurance that your project will become what you imagined it to be than being a real part of the development process. As a product owner, you will have control over what features are implemented at what phase. It’s the best way (and sometimes the only way) to make sure the project is going in the right direction in a cost-effective manner.
Get to work and focus on delivery!
While MVP development is definitely a challenge, its strategy should be pretty straightforward when you sum it all up.
- Do the necessary research, identify your strengths.
- Keep things simple, focus on the most crucial features.
- Always keep users’ benefit in mind, get their feedback asap.
- If you decide to hire an agency, choose the right one.
- Participate in the process as a product owner.
In the last few years, we’ve successfully delivered several MVP projects as development teams, but also as consultants to some extent. We’ve seen a lot, and we can assure you that following those simple rules will significantly increase your chances of success.
And, of course, if you have a blockchain or bioinformatics MVP to build and you’ve decided to hire an agency for it, we would love to hear about it. You can set a call with me here.