Inspiration has struck and your team has come up with a new idea. But how do you materialise that idea into something tangible that others can visualise and, eventually, use?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a great place to start. MVPs focus on getting things done, rather than getting things perfect. You want a product or service you can quickly put on the market in order to gain the maximum amount of information to successfully gauge user interest.
But many teams find the process of turning an idea into an MVP daunting, and are concerned with creating the 'perfect product' from the get-go. Agile Partner helps to break the MVP process down into iterative and interactive steps based on experimentation no matter where a company is in their MVP development process.
Both entrepreneurs looking to launch, and well-established companies developing new, innovative products, are able to break free from roadblocks with a little help. Creating an MVP-whether your idea is just a seed or is already beginning to bloom-is a matter of following a few easy steps.
Ideation: the spark leading to an MVP
This step in the process is clearly the first. But ideation is also a stage to be revisited throughout the MVP development process, in order to re-evaluate your original answers based on new information, and create iterations of your MVP. At this stage, you will have to ask yourself:
- What is my idea all about?
- Who is it helping?
- What problem will it solve?
- How is it different to existing alternatives?
Using tools like the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Value Proposition Canvas will help you answer these questions. These tools allow you to determine your business strategy and how you will make money, define your customer segment, explore who your partners will be, and look at how you will distribute your product.
The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean startup template for developing new or presenting existing business models. It's a visual chart that describes a product or service by breaking it down into its value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances.
The Lean Canvas refers to Ash Maurya's adaptation of the Business Model Canvas into an actionable and entrepreneur-focused, one-page plan. It helps break down your idea into key assumptions including the problem and solution, key metrics, cost structure, unique value proposition, unfair advantage, channels, revenue streams and customer segments.
The Value Proposition Canvas is a tool which can help ensure a product or service is positioned around what the customer values and needs. It was initially developed by Dr Alexander Osterwalder as a framework to assure a fit between the product and market.
Once these essential questions have been answered, and your assumptions made, developing a pitch highlighting the value of the project or product in a short time is fundamental. Imagine you've got a huge investor riding in an elevator with you-can you summarise your product by the time it takes to reach the 10th floor? A fine-tuned elevator pitch allows you to summarise the value of your product in a short space of time, in a catchy and easily understandable way.
It\'s all about iterations
Throughout this process, your idea and assumptions should be poked and prodded, thinking about questions like:
- Is your idea desirable?
- Will it answer the real needs of your users?
- Is your idea viable?
- Will it generate enough revenue to ensure your business is sustainable?
- Will the value it creates for your users translate to value for your business (for further growth, etc.)?
- Is your idea technologically feasible?
Agile Partner will supportively ask tough questions and help you find solutions. Using tools like personas to explore what your customer profiles look like will help you gain a better understanding of your potential target. Market research and interviews with potential customers will allow you to gauge the reaction of your intended customer base.
We'll help you explore whether your solution answers a real social need, and whether anyone will be interested in it. Agile Partner's Software Factory takes ideas and rolls with them; we'll explore how your idea could actually function.
As you move through this process, creating and refining your MVP, you'll come across new ideas and potential obstacles that will help you pivot, refine-or completely rethink-your original solution.
Initialisation: creating the roadmap
In this phase you will create a roadmap that you can follow quickly, and change as needed to get an MVP to market fast. Speed is key in this step-the faster you get an MVP in the market, the quicker you can explore what people love and don't love, and what does and doesn't work. Time not on the market is time wasted.
This part of the process often causes companies the biggest issue. Many teams fixate on the finer points of the solution, and worry that the product does not have enough features to be seen as desirable by the customer. Essentially, they're forgetting the minimum part of Minimum Viable Product.
That's where a product backlog-an Agile development, Scrum framework, living to-do list-comes in. This dynamic list is a way for the first iteration of a product to begin to take shape.
A product backlog describes the product's features and potential bugs through user stories, ensuring you and your team understand the product from the customer perspective. A feature could be listed for example as, "As a shopper, I want to be able to complete purchases with one click." Technical work and knowledge acquisition are also included in the flexible backlog.
In order to avoid spending too long fixating on features, slowing the process down, and tangling your team up in hypothetical what-if's, the product backlog is used to prioritize and define specific actions to be taken in each successive sprint, or short-term goal-oriented project. In each sprint, team members complete items on the product backlog, working in iterations toward the final goal.
Your team will be excited about the impact of the product and their contributions to each goal. If your team feels a part of the vision, they'll work more creatively and enthusiastically, and explore new directions for your product. People want to be a part of something meaningful, and it's important to maintain this feeling throughout the process.
Realisation: digging in
Now's the time to put ideas into action. You'll start to develop and test your MVP.
This process is managed by the product owner, within a Scrum framework. Small goals will be met easily and quickly in individual sprints. Product owners will update and coordinate the product backlog, looking at what has been done, what still needs to be done, by who and by when.
Our Software Factory team will work with you along the way, building and delivering software in an agile way to help you build out your MVP and complete the testing that will enable you to keep moving forward and grow.
Agile Partner is not here to be a yes man, and we'll make sure that your idea is challenged and poked from every angle to ensure it's in the best shape possible.
When it's time to jump in, our team includes a unique mix of skills you'll need throughout your process, including experts in:
- User Experience;
- Scrum Masters;
- and Product Owners.
Working with our Software Factory you will be able to build a wide variety of tech solutions from web, to mobile, to AI, chatbot, data analytics and more. You will be able to build an MVP in less than 3 months by leveraging leading cloud platforms like AWS and Azure and latest architecture patterns like serverless and NoSQL.
With no compromise on speed or quality, you will move from idea to MVP, to iterations, to your final high-impact product easily and agily.
Ready to get started? Contact our team of Agile experts to explore our services, and find the right support for your product.
Still thinking? Take a look at our services and training programs to get a better understanding of Agile and how it can help you and your team work towards your company's goals.