Creating A Minimum Viable Product


Many people think MVP is a subset of product requirements or a prioritized product backlog. Prototype differs from MVP. MVP can target a customer or a problem to be solved. Typically, you start by creating a set of features to make an impact on the sponsor. MVP can differ from the set of features approach in the methodology. Let's look at Steve Blank’s methodology. Many use it for creating a Minimum Viable Product. Steve found this approach when he was working in startups.
We relate his approach to customers, customer needs, the customer's wanted features, channels, and customer growth goals.
MVP is typically tested in the real world before going for a full-fledged product. Blank suggests the following steps:
  • Customer Discovery
  • Customer Validation
  • Customer Creation
  • Customer Growth
MVP can be released in alpha, beta, and live phases. After live, observations in the market and competitors might force the retirement of the MVP. One needs to restart the process of discovery and create a new MVP.
To create MVP, you require multiple iterations by the product team. Sometimes, the issue it addresses is not well defined. In these cases, the questions in the checklist of an MVP need to be answered before moving to the next stage. Typical questions in the MVP checklist are:
  • What do you need to build?
  • How do you build the product?
  • What features can wait?
  • What features need to be tested first?
  • What is the value proposition?
  • What are the key differentiators of the product?
  • What are the long-term goals?
  • What are the success criteria?
  • What are the key customer journeys to be addressed?
  • What are the key pain points which are addressed?
  • Which features might impact the customer? (High or Low)
  • Which features are urgent for the customer? (High or Low)
  • Which segments are impacted by the product?
  • What is the project cost for building the product?
  • What are the metrics that need to be tracked?
We break MVP into epics and user stories for releases. The releases are planned by learning after each release and iterating for better MVP. The estimation of the release is done initially at a high level using a three-point estimate (Optimistic, most probable, and pessimistic) and then in detail for each release. We conduct workshops for creating user stories from epics. A backlog is created and prioritized.
The Discovery period of the project is used to understand the requirements for creating MVP. We use the requirements for creating epics first. Next, we analyze the value for different epics and used for prioritization. After prioritization, key challenges for creating MVP are UX/UI skills, stakeholders’ decision making, and team skills. The other challenges are for delivering MVP. They are CI/CD, deployment, development, and DevOps skills. Eric Ries defines MVP helps the business to reach the goals by trying different approaches and solutions. Lean startup methodology advocates this definition.