The greatest flaw of most recent failed business start-ups is a failure to understand the current market and creating a product that is not suitable for current market conditions. Understanding your market is fundamental to the success of any future product you wish to release and that’s why having a detailed overview of the product is not enough; you need to understand how and why it will be used by your consumers. The development technique of implementing a Minimum Viable Product will help you enter the market and create competitive advantages. This Minimum Viable Product essentially helps you to create the minimal specification requirements of your product to enable the end users or consumers to provide feedback following a period of testing to aid in your future development.
There are a number of advantages to developing a Minimum Viable Product which will help you pitch where your product fits into the market and therefore be successful. One of the main reasons is to gain an insight into the current market; what are consumers wanting to purchase; what product would gain the most return; which products are currently not available but required; which products are currently saturating the market? These questions allow developers to refine their products to ensure maximum return after final development and release. Understanding the market is key to understanding how well your product will perform.
Another key advantage of producing a Minimum Viable Product is low cost production. Development of a product can become an expensive task and ensuring that no waste is unnecessarily produced as part of the development can save a business considerable amounts. Producing a low-cost, stripped back version of your intended product allows for the end-user testing to take place via a much less-expensive initial product; getting to the testing market much quicker and easier than if you were to build the entire product for initial release. This also allows for cost-effective measures when refining the product after testing. The costs of rebuilding, removing features or refining the product is much less than if the full product were required to be stripped back, redeveloped and redesigned.
Usability is key within the design of a product. This can only really be tested via testing itself with the consumer. How does the product perform with the user? Are all of the expected functions working correctly? Could anything be removed? Could anything be introduced which would then increase the capability, desirability, and future sales of the product? All these questions can be answered through user testing. The Minimum Viable Product would be developed, released to the consumer and then feedback is obtained which would then be analysed to determine the product’s viability. Examples of useful feedback could include that the product works well and to the desired design intention and therefore no further development is needed. It could also be evaluated by the consumer to be inefficient and therefore at the next stage of development for the final product, refinements could be introduced to make the product even more appropriate, desirable and efficient. As previously mentioned, making changes before the final design and release not only helps with the saleability of the product but also saves on the costs incurred to make small changes to the product before final release.
Feedback is an essential part of any product release; ensuring it’s fit for purpose and appropriate for the target market. By learning from the feedback, developers can turn these learnings into a winning formula for future development and future products. The faster you can find out whether your product appeals to consumers, the less effort and expenditure required to spend on a product that will not succeed in the market.
So, now you know you need a Minimum Viable Product when releasing a product to market, how do you go about creating one? The easiest way is to take a step approach to understand the requirements the product needs for your ‘future customers’. Step 1 is to understand what problem you are solving and for whom; what is the purpose of your product. Thinking about what solutions are currently available or what solutions could be available if developed is a good starting point for product development. Step 2 would be to analyse your competitors; who is in the market at present, what do they have to offer as a solution? Could you develop something or something better to solve this issue? The next step would be to define the user-flow; what are the processes involved for the consumer to have the end goal of using the product and serving the purpose of solving the issue. The next step is where your MVP starts to be developed. Listing all the necessary requirements and features of the product for it to ‘work’ and be put into the market helps you to understand not only what is required but also what is not required to fulfill the product design and the end-goal in the simplest form. This ensures you don’t design, create or release any part of the product user-flow that is not necessary. The final step is to build, measure and learn. Build the MVP, release it to the market, then learn from the feedback what went well, what didn’t and what improvements are needed before your final release. This is where MVPs can save money, time, effort and ensures a product that is both fit for purpose and capable of entering a market where consumers would be not only willing but seeking to find and purchase.
The product consumers are the only people who can define what features and requirements your product lacks and therefore it makes sense to obtain this feedback from them before final release. After collection, evaluation and analysing of this feedback, you can start to improve the product continuously by re-releasing the new Minimum Viable Product and obtaining new feedback on the new product features until it is perfected. This cycle generates the winning formula which can be used on your future products and services to ensure maximum return and concise design and development for almost every potential product which can be released to the market.