How to Build a Lean MVP

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Developers and business strategists aren’t always on the same page and rarely speak the same language or Lean MVP. One person’s pub idea and business plan might be an incredibly complex and expensive exercise when given to a developer. Likewise, a developer’s ideas might be considered too elaborate to scale once looked at in an economic perspective.

It can be incredibly difficult to form ideas to improve an organization when there are differing viewpoints – even when they’re two sides to the same coin. So with this in mind, we put together some quick tips to building your MVP.

Create a Detailed Brief

A product brief is a document that provides critical information about the product’s attributes and goals and will serve as the central source of information before, during and after the product launch. Many businesses, big or small, consider the product brief as one of the most important elements in doing a project as it helps minimize unexpected errors.
Spend twice as long on the brief as you need. Put a little more effort in throwing it together even if that means you have to pull in outside help to write your brief. Your product vision is golden and if done right, this document will help keep it that way all throughout its launch and execution.

  • Introduction to your company
  • Product name
  • Release date
  • Product description
  • Target audience
  • Customer value proposition
  • Launch plan
  • Timetable of important events
  • Sales talking points
  • Customer service talking points
  • Pricing
  • Resources

What are the next steps after a design sprint?

Have a Roadmap

A product roadmap is a live document (meaning it can be subjected to changes) of your vision to where your product is headed. Since a Lean MVP is a full-blown enterprise software ready for sales and marketing, it makes sense that you figure out what you want it to accomplish in the future and put it into writing. Making a roadmap for your Lean MVP will have the following benefits:

  • Describe the vision and strategy of your product to everyone in your company as well as your first few customers
  • Serves as a guiding document that will put your product’s vision into focus
  • Manages overall product backlog

Additionally, the following are the best practices in creating a product roadmap:

Be visual – Don’t just ‘tell’, make your roadmap a visual representation of your plans.

Have different versions – Each department in your company has a unique role which means that every department should focus on something different. For example, the Sales department will want the details about when the product ready for customers or when new features will be released. On the other hand, the Marketing department will want to focus on how product features will look and behave so they can market it properly. Usually, the sales team will use the same roadmap that all the other teams are using which risk them aggressively committing to unreleased features to win the deal without consulting the developers on timing and probability. This is why Google Developer Expert Shrinath V advises making a different version of your product roadmap for your sales department to prevent your roadmap from being hijacked.

Make it flexible – When you maintain flexibility in your timeline, you and your team will be able to react to roadblocks calmly and adapt your product strategy to fit changing needs. In fact, Todd Olson, the Founder, and CEO of Pendo recommends that you write “SUBJECT TO CHANGE” on all of your product roadmaps.

Don’t include dates – Additionally, it is not advised put dates in your internal and external roadmaps. Dates make the document less flexible because you are constricted to release your features on a certain date. Your timeline should have the broadest scope possible to make room for future modifications. “Don’t fall into the trap of specifying dates for anything that’s not already a work-in-progress or that isn’t well defined and well understood. Any attempt to set a date for something that’s outside the 1-3 month time horizon is not only a mistake but is bound to fail,” says Cliff Gilley, technologist, and product manager of The Clever PM.

Continually edit and update – As stated above, your roadmaps are live documents that change as your company grows. Make sure to set aside 10 minutes of your time a week to review them and make the necessary alterations if there are any updates on the features of your product.

Do a Quick Focus Group

When it comes to selling your app, there is no point in spending the money on the application if you do not make the money back in the service it offers. Therefore, assess the market a bit before you dive in. 90% of applications are to solve your own pain, but are there thousands of people out there like you and are 100% willing to pay for it to make it a viable investment.

Remember the following points when you conduct your first customer focus group.

  • Make sure participants represent your target market. It would be completely pointless if the people in your focus group is not even from your market of interest.
  • Keep them few – in fact, it is advised to keep the number of participants under ten. This way, you will get to interview them properly and every person will have a chance to share their insights.
  • Ask probing questions like “What do you mean?” and “Why is that?” to help the participants expound and clarify their points.
  • Audio record the sessions so you don’t have to take notes.

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Be Open to Pricing Model Change

Coming up with a pricing strategy is a challenging task for any business. Your product’s price needs to be high enough to cover its costs so it can generate profit but it also needs to be within the range of what customers are willing to pay. After all, the price is one of the most important factors customers consider when choosing between different products and services.
One thing to keep in mind is that pricing always changes due to the constant shifts in supply and demand.

Be open to changes to your pricing model. This will allow you to adjust the price of your products to adapt to accommodate a changing business climate. Lean MVP