Posted on 23rd March 2019 - Takes 4 minutes to read
Minimum viable product (or MVP) is a term that is thrown around a lot in enterprise software development, but not everyone is clear about what it means. Or specifically, what it should mean. It's a source of significant debate, but this is my take.
The minimum viable version of a product is the first version with sufficient features to satisfy the stakeholders and implement the product's essential functionality. The 'minimum' part of MVP will vary heavily, dependant on the aim of the project and the expectations of the people involved.
Here are a few simple examples to demonstrate the concept.
|Product type||Minimum viable product|
|E-commerce||Product catalogue can be displayed, customers can sign up, log in, and make purchases|
|Social networking||Users can sign up, add/follow other users, send public/private messages|
|Scheduling system||Events can be created, edited and deleted, and viewed on a calendar|
In the real world, it is far more common to see additional features beyond what is stated in these examples.
Most importantly, a minimum viable product is not the same as an incomplete product. The MVP should be considered to be a complete version of the software. It could be said to be the first version, that does not contain all the features that may be introduced in later developments. However, it is important not to see the MVP as a test, trial of ideas, or proof of concept. An MVP software product should be produced with the same quality and processes as any other development.
An MVP should also not be an initial sales mechanism, in my opinion. It should be the first step in a project's real development. An MVP should not be created to show off what can be done or made in place of a proof of concept, prior to a project's initial scope being agreed to by all involved. An impressive, completed minimum viable product can, however, be proof of a development team's ability to produce a high-quality software system.
Developing a minimum viable product first can have many advantages.