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How to plan an MVP

By Beatrice Thomas

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the basic product or service that will capture the attention of people and then be bought.

Having an MVP allows your product to be released to the market in the shortest time possible and for the cheapest cost.

You can test demand for your product, gain insight on potential successes or failures, look at potential problems, get to know your clients/customers’ habits and enhance your user base.

When planning an MVP, you need to break it down into stages.

Step 1: Isolate the long-term goal for your product

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why am I doing it?
  • What is the point of difference?
  • What are the measurables that can help me identify successes and failures?

Phil Allen, managing director of digital at Integranet, a digital consultancy and information communications technology company based in Perth, says when developing any product or solution you should first understand where the business wants to position itself.

He says careful consideration must be given to an MVP if there are ongoing business drivers.

“You need to deep dive into the current and future business objectives, understand how and where the business wants to position itself,” Allen says.

“Take for instance the executive stance on ‘we need a new website’. Depending on the size of the business this could be a large undertaking, regardless of size today.”

Allen says your website is the window to your business and the experience held by your end users and customers navigating their way through your site must be intuitive and informative.

“Sometimes there can be many ways in which this needs to be achieved. In having an MVP it allows you to look at the quick wins of the business, breaking down what is already working to ensure that the consistency remains, but overall enhancing the experience and evolving the user’s journey to build on that MVP over an agreed period of time.

“In doing this the product/solution you are providing can meet the business needs in both the short, medium and long term without having to start over time and time again.”

Step 2: Map your user’s journey

Create personas of the specific user types with consideration of the following:

  • identifying key functions they will undertake
  • how they interpret the use of your product/services, andmost importantly,
  • the journey theywill take when buying/using your product/services.

You will need to have multiple entry and exit options.

For each journey, it is important to identify the pain points – the areas that may put users off – and the areas that add value when the user gets past this pain point (called the gain).

Then summarise these points and work out how you might overcome the pains to create opportunity or enhance the ‘gain’.

Case study – Perth Zoo

Allen, alongside key strategic partner Kombu, recently worked on a digital roadmap strategy with Perth Zoo, identifying various pain points across the organisation in relation to customer experience both online and onsite at the zoo.

One of the problem areas identified was the purchasing of tickets via the existing website as the solution lacked a clear, informative and concise user experience, resulting in a large percentage of ‘drop-offs’.

Customers were finding it easier to buy from the front desk on the day they wanted to visit.

Working closely with key staff at Perth Zoo, new experiences have been developed to resolve the pain points.

They will be tested and then released within months (this being their MVP), providing customers with new options and pre-ticket purchasing to beat the queues. More features will be delivered over 12 to 18 months as part of the wider strategy.

Step 3: Finalise your features

Finalise what features you want in your MVP, including things that are a lower priority).

Create sentences or opportunity statements, such as in the Perth Zoo example where they could have said “we will have a fast, easy to use, electronic ticketing system”.

Also, prioritise what needs to happen – one possible way to execute this well is via a prioritisation matrix.

Overall, Allen suggests looking at the business, identifying all the issues and drilling down to what will make the biggest difference in improvement.

 

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the basic product or service that will capture the attention of people and then be bought.

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