We are all busy. We are all in a constant rush. No one is surprised to see the whole world looking for quick and easy solutions that will simplify our lives. Every day we can download new applications that are supposed to think, remember or count for us. There is an app that reminds you about eating your meals, another one that counts how long you brush your teeth for. The way the world runs forces us to abandon simple everyday activities so that we can keep up with everyone else. What do you think it looks like when it comes to running a business?
Yes, you are right, it works exactly the same way. We all do our best in order to provide a good product as quickly as possible and that is why we search for the best solutions. Luckily, Eric Ries, the inventor of the lean startup, came up with one of those when he popularised the MVP method. This acronym hides a blessing for both us, the professionals and our clients. How does it work?
MVP, meaning Minimum Viable Product, represents the absolute minimum value we can deliver that satisfies the client at the same time. However, it should not be seen nor understood as a finished product, but as a process of creating it. This process saves our time and our client’s money while ensuring that the product is good and delivered quickly. In order to do so, we need to follow a few simple rules.
One, it has to be as simple as possible. There is one question you should be asking yourself every five minutes and it is: can I make it simpler? Forget everything you have ever read about design, abandon all the guidelines you were taught, get rid of all the fancy additions you are used to. Feel free to make it rough.
Two, it has to be functional. If you believe that the teeth brushing reminder is functional, stick to the first rule. Make a list of all the elements you think may be useful for your client and then cross out all that are not crucial. Remember that you will have the possibility to add some features later.
Three, it has to understandable. There is no point spending hours creating a product that does not get across what your client actually needs, and that is why you need to make sure your MVP is clearly stated. Those three combined will give you Minimum Viable Product.
There is a reason why some call MVP Most Valuable Product as it is surprisingly useful for both professionals and clients. How does the client benefit from this method then? It is without doubt a win-win situation as our client can enjoy the product much faster after spending much less money than he would normally do. Receiving the product quicker allows him to get used to it, notice what it lacks and understand what he really needs at the same time. This will definitely improve future cooperation.
One of the greatest examples of the MVP that has been shared by the whole world is Dropbox. The company that is now worth more than 8 billions USD started with a simple video presentation explaining what their product would do. The product itself was not started building before their beta waiting list hit 75,000 people. That way they knew they could start working on the project and the clients knew exactly what they would get.
Sadly, there is a thin line between seeing MVP as a product and as a process. Many companies decide to work on MVP spending months creating a product that has no value and no potential client. Remember that Minimum Viable Product is not about chopping out half of the features or providing the product earlier than you were supposed to. Taking shortcuts is not making life simpler, you may always get lost.