In the initial phase of a project stands an unimaginable drive to carve out the most awesome feature set that could be. All stakeholders seem to have an almost infinite set of ideas which is obvious to each and everyone and therefore should be included in a first draft of requirements before it’s too late.
The possibilities seem to be endless and the motivation is like a steam roller pushing most rational thinking to the sideline.
At this point, we try to stop our clients for a second to think about their goals. I mean the real goals of their product: Which market it targets, which problems they identified and how each feature that they are planning in their heads solves this problem.
If you have identified — or think to have identified — an incredible solution of a problem that many people have, then you are in a great position. The next step is to gain experience in the market that you want to target and build solutions that are custom tailored to these people.
Many new companies fail, because they have misinterpreted the demand for their ideas and developed for imaginary users. Because most of the time we don’t know anything about how the users would use the app or whether the users would use it at all.
A solution is proposed by the “Lean Start-up Method” developed by entrepreneur and author Steve Blank, which has been accepted as a good model for many young companies and start-ups world wide.
The idea is simple: Instead of introducing a long development cycle to get a fully-grown product into the market — for example through conservative development methodologies like the waterfall model or similar — the company tries to get a minimum viable product (MVP) into the market as soon as possible.
An MVP is the simplest version of your innovative idea (“minimum”) that has an added value for the potential user and thus is “viable”. So when planning your product, you have to find the optimal balance between the simplest variant of your product and the necessary core value.
Advantages of a Minimum Viable Product
- Efficient — The development is quick and easy. Especially start-ups should test their ideas in the market as quickly as possible.
- Managable Budget — Avoiding of expensive product refinements of wrong ideas or of the development of non-core features helps you to stay within budget.
- Low Risk — Because of the continuous testing of the core values, you can mitigate or avoid failure due to low demand of the market.
Integrating the philosophy into our development process
Not only is this a management and planning tool. This philosophy has become popular among software developers aswell. Various development methodologies — like “Extreme Programming” and today mostly called “agile software development” — encourage a similar idea of fast iteration.
Read more about Iteration and Integration in an upcoming blog post!