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Why develop a Minimal Viable Product in mobile?

When investigating the opportunity for mobilisation, it could be sometimes useful to take the approach of creating a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) as there are often a number of internal and external factors that mean apps fail to deliver the right solution.


When investigating the opportunity for mobilisation, mobile strategy sessions will often identify clear opportunities where apps can help solve business challenges. Though the temptation might be there to create an all singing, all dancing app that includes all the functionality you think will help, it can be a costly mistake. The solution to challenges may seem clear, though often there will be a number of internal and external factors that mean apps fail to deliver the right solution. This is why it could be sometimes useful to take the approach of creating a Minimal Viable Product (MVP).

While many companies feel that they need to be mobile, approaching it without a clear end goal can make it difficult to immediately identify what the functionalities should be, how the app will engage with its end user and how it will be received. As a result, it is important to create a discovery roadmap to better understand what the core business problem is.

By taking this approach, companies can often minimise long term risk. Fundamentally, a MVP is developed with the key, basic features it needs to test its viability in the market or to end users. Through user feedback and analysing app usage, companies can get a better idea of what works (or doesn’t) and how users interact with the app. Rather than spending a year or longer developing a product, building a MVP allows you to test your business case quickly and build on it by using end user feedback.

As part of the mobile roadmap, it’s important that companies view apps as an ever evolving product. This is a particularly valuable approach for projects focused on innovation, where companies and developers are playing in a realm of uncertainty. A MVP development route helps companies understand what the functions of the app should be, by learning across the various stages of development from user feedback.

Lean product development enables companies to fail fast. By iterating through the ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ loop, companies can decide to continue with their approach or pivot and adapt their product to better suit their users. This ensures you are building a product that solves real-world problems with a greater level of confidence.

By incorporating validated learning, companies can make better and more efficient decisions on how to move forward with their projects, minimising the risk of waste. However, key fundamentals of mobile strategy need to be considered to ensure that developing a MVP is focused and targeted.

Even when a lean approach to product development is taken, a clear strategy still needs to be present to understand what the core function is and what features can be added at a later date.

This method is particularly useful if a company is taking a non-linear mobile strategy approach, in which companies are looking to cause disruption and introduce innovation to consumer facing mobile solutions.

MVP Best practices:

  • Define your MVP through roadmapping. What features are a must have? What features could be added later?
  • Integrate in app analytics to understand how the app is being used
  • Having a API first approach in your business could make developing MVP a lot easier and quicker
  • What is viable? Identify KPIs to measure the app’s success
  • Iterate through the ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ development cycle and pivot when necessary
  • Recognise when the product is not viable and discontinue development

Although creating a minimal viable product has its benefits, its release can often be seen as a risky way to introduce a new product to the market. With limited functionality, the user experience may not be what the app is ultimately aiming towards. This could have an adverse effect, especially if the app is targeted towards consumers. Companies are also often sceptical about releasing a product that is in trial; and with good reason. Releasing a MVP as part of its development stage, could give competitors insight into future development plans and the opportunity to act to counter any advantage the app may provide.

Thankfully, companies can utilise test programmes, where they can take a small cross-section of potential users to test whether MVPs deliver the right experience or functionality. This can then be built on before a product is fully released. Companies can also start by designing a prototype and testing the business case with targeted focus groups. Overall, it’s important that companies continue to learn from apps and realise that they will require maintenance and updates over time. This will help to improve apps and the benefits they bring, along with user retention rates.

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