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What is an MVP?

MainSpring

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My favorite aspect of my job at MainSpring is discussing the myriad of great ideas that our clients have, and helping them turn those ideas into a solution. One of the biggest challenges in this process is helping people understand the value of starting off small—and that starting small is the first step toward achieving the ultimate goal. It’s easy to be entranced by your ideas and want to do everything immediately, but there are a number of definite advantages to starting off with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

The beginning is not the end 

You’ve probably heard the term MVP used a lot in the technology space, and this largely stems from modern application development methodologies that stress early delivery and flexibility as the keys to delivering great results. The basic premise of an MVP is to deliver the smallest possible feature set while fulfilling the core requirements of the users. Building an MVP comes with the understanding that there will be more work required to achieve the ultimate goal, and that the ultimate goal is best achived through confident organizational buy-in and informed decision making.  

Planning through evaluation 

Choosing to develop an MVP can seem antithetical to the motivation to build a custom app—you know you want everything, so why not plan for everything from the beginning? The truth is, it’s inevitable that, once the users get their hands on a custom app, the requirements change. 

Perhaps the most important reason for building an MVP is to get users involved in the feedback cycle that fuels the requirements for further development. Shifting the focus to requirements for further development is incredibly valuable; therefore, planning based upon the evaluation of what you’ve already built delivers the most valuable features. 

Gain adoption through delivering value 

Developing an MVP first verifies that the custom app is a viable solution because it only requires a small initial investment, yet it delivers value right away and builds stakeholder buy-in. 

Seeing that value upfront is crucial to helping an organization determine three things… 

  1. How much they should build 
  2. How fast they should build 
  3. How they should prioritize what to build 

The value produced from the MVP defines the case for further investment and drives the engagement of users who will operate the tool. 

Learning how to achieve together 

Many of our clients have never worked on a custom app development project, or even used an interactive process to accomplish a project—and it’s definitely a learning experience. One of the overlooked advantages to the MVP approach is that clients are able to learn about the development process through hands-on experience working with developers. At the same time, our consultants get to learn about your team, your company and your industry. 

The post-deployment evaluation of the MVP generally serves as a sort of “shakedown cruise” for the whole team. Essentially, we get to evaluate our interactions with our clients and discuss how we can achieve better results together, which allows us to deliver more value in future development. 


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