Step #1. Define The Problem You're Solving
The first step of successful minimum viable product development is to formulate a business idea. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and ask two questions: Why do I need this product? and How can it help me? Answering these questions will help you to understand the main goal of the product and find the best solution for satisfying future customers' needs. Step #2. Define the target audience and narrow it down
Trying to satisfy a wide group of people is a mistake. Choose a specific audience to offer your product to. Create a full description of a person who is not only going to like your product, but also buy it without hesitation. Learn how old and how educated this hypothetical person is, what he or she does for a living, and what earning level this job brings them. Habits and hobbies will complete a description of a potential customer.
Knowledge about the customer's lifestyle allows you to find out if your future product aligns with the exact problem they face.Step #3. Evaluate your competitors
Don't overestimate the exclusiveness of your product, especially when you know there are other companies within your industry. Evaluate your competitors strengths and weaknesses to define the functionality of your future product.
Define your competitors. Analyze who your top three rivals are, how long they have been in the market and what products or services they offer. Research whether they have a competitive advantage and estimate your ability to offer something superior.
Find their market share and research their past and current strategies, sales volume, revenues, and financial and marketing objectives. This data will help you understand how profitable and successful they are.
Use primary and secondary sources of information. The information companies share about themselves is the most reliable primary source for analysis. Visit their websites to read presentations, white papers, annual reports, blogs, and other publications. Secondary sources of information, such as magazine and newspaper articles, videos, survey reports, and books, represent public opinion about the company. Although these sources might be less reliable than primary ones, they can give you a bigger picture of the industry.
Dig deeper. Visit business events your competitors take part in, contact their former employers and, of course, use their product and analyze the feedback on it. Step #4. Map out the User Flow
Designing your mobile product with users in mind is a vital part of the MVP development process. A good way to ensure that your users have a good experience with the first iteration of your app is to map out user journeys. This step will allow you to look at your product from the perspective of the user, beginning with opening the app and ending with reaching an end goal, such as making a purchase. User flow creation provides insight into how to design the app in a way that is convenient for users. Step #5. List features and Prioritize Them
At this stage, you will be able to understand what features to include in your MVP as well as features to include on your product roadmap that are a lower priority. Determining the difference between what your user wants vs. what your user needs can help you identify and prioritize features. Implementing too many user-requested features too soon can harm the user experience and take away from the overall purpose of the product. The only features included with your MVP should be connected to your product's overall goal.
You could highlight all the features you think are 'nice-to-have', but not strictly necessary. When you have a list of features for each stage you then need to prioritize them.
The following steps will help you prioritize your features:
Ask yourself: What is the single most important action that I want my users to accomplish? (Note: this will be your main feature);
Ask yourself: What other features do I want to offer? (Explain why you need each of these features, then cross out the least important ones.)
Now categorize all the remaining features under the categories 'must-have,' 'nice-to-have', and 'unimportant.'
Once you've added all the stages and their features, draw a downward vertical arrow going from 'high priority' at the top of the column to 'low priority' at the bottom, and prioritize your features.
After prioritization, define their scope for the first version of the product and move to choosing the best-fit management method for building an MVP.Step #6. Choose the best project management methods for building an MVP
With a defined scope of work, you can now start developing your minimum viable product. Let's take a look at what project management methods apply to building an MVP now.
Lean. Lean is an Agile software development method based on several core principles: eliminate waste, deliver as fast as possible, and build integrity. Practically, Lean applies iterative development with the build-measure-learn approach. With the Lean approach, developers can delay most of the design decisions, set a rapid feedback loop, and ensure they build a product that customers really need.
If you want to learn more about Lean Startup Approach, follow this link: "How to avoid becoming a product waiter: The Lean Startup Approach".
Scrum. Scrum is an iterative approach to software development that relies on the division of work scope to help teams deliver faster. Scrum allows developers to manage the development of features for MVP in sprints (short cycles between two and four weeks long) and hire a scrum master who will oversee the entire Scrum process and keep it running smoothly. An MVP may be released after the first sprint, and the development team can update the product according to user feedback in all subsequent sprints.
Still thinking whether to scrum or not? Perhaps our article
on the subject of scrum methodology will help you make your decision.
Kanban. Kanban focuses on the work-in-progress model and suggests focusing on tasks as they appear. This allows for aligning the scope of work with team capacity. Engineers can continuously add tasks to a pipeline as they get feedback from users. Kanban may be applied after the first version of MVP is released and will be a powerful method if feedback is ongoing. Step #7. Build, Test, and Learn
When all the data has been gathered you can start building an MVP. QA engineers will then test it, and if everything works and a minimal viable product is ready, the time then comes for alpha or beta testing.
Alpha testing can also be called a Friends & Family release, as you generally give an alpha build of your product only to a limited focus group, in most cases to friends and relatives. You could conduct alpha testing first before moving on to beta, or proceed directly to beta testing. As soon as the product passes alpha testing it's ready for beta testing.
When we talk about beta testing, we mean that the product is going out into the real world to be tested by real users. The beta testing period varies, but it usually takes 1–2 weeks to get sufficient feedback. Based on feedback from beta testing, you may consider implementing changes to the future versions of your product.
Users are the only people who can define what features your product lacks and what features aren't needed. After collecting user feedback, start improving your product again and then test, and learn, and build again, and test again, and learn again.