12/18/2018 - #culture-web #development
by: Benjamin Samson

Although it is hasty, the definition given by Wikipedia has the distinction of being in perfect harmony with the very purpose of what it defines: a minimal and viable product.

“A MVP (minimum viable product) is a product development strategy, used for rapid and quantitative tests to bring a product or feature to market.”

What must be remembered from this concise description is that it is indeed a strategy and not an end in itself. The MVP is a passing element, a step, which is part of a more global work. The Minimum Viable Product will allow to all stakeholders to test it, to challenge and learn from a limited (minimal) version of the product as we originally imagined it, in order to build the product as we could not have imagined it initially.

It is a process that aims to prioritize the speed of development and therefore the time of production:

Faster, earlier!

Why do you want to do it faster, easier and - therefore - incomplete, when you could simply take more time to release a complete product?

There are many reasons:

  1. Accept to make mistakes more quickly to correct or change them more faster. The objective here is to test fast because it is easier to change and reorient a project or function with a narrow scope.

  2. Moving a smaller perimeter forward also makes it possible to rectify it immediately, while it is still fresh in the minds of developers. It is more effective than waiting until the end of the project to dig up problems that have been forgotten for months.

  3. Collecting feedback on a product from users is more effective that is not yet too complex. Feedbacks are focused on the essentials. The same applies when updating or adding features, feedback will be focused on change and additions. They will not be diluted and will be easier to compile.

Okay, so we want to go fast, make mistakes fast and rectify them quickly. But in concrete terms, what is a MVP? The newsletter subscription page that will announce the future site? The first stone of the building? The wheel of the car?

In the "classic" MVP schematics that we often find on the internet we generally discover the MVP as the evolution from skateboarding to cycling, then from cycling to motorcycling and finally to the car. To check my point, type MVP on Google Image…the results are eloquent.

This is a very serious mistake. The MVP is a continuity and evolution of the same product that meets an identified need and whose objective is maintained from start to finish. A skateboard is by no means the MVP of a car. It does not meet any common need with the car: it cannot carry anything and is not an object intended for the user's travel. It is an object of entertainment, sport and fun whose object is pleasure, play and competition. The car meets very different specifications, including: moving, transporting objects, being safe, being protected from the elements, etc.

The MVP of the car would therefore be more like the hand car, or the horse car... the ancestor of the car, quite simply. If you're not convinced, think again at this point: when Elon Musk reinvents the electric car, he doesn't start by skateboarding, he makes a car. And then it improves some parts: increasing battery life, autonomous driving, etc.

An iterative and incremental strategy 

So when we talk about MVP, we are talking about a product deployment strategy. We are part of a process that consists of steps and responds to a certain logic of prioritizing functions and values.

Strangely, as some may have noticed, the notion of MVP brings together two contradictory ideas: Minimal and Viable. Indeed, the product must have reached a certain level of completeness; sufficient to be viable and used by users, and at the same time minimal to allow developers to do it quickly.

A complete product means: a set of functionalities that bring value to users, a coherent product that has all the appearances of the finished product. But since it must remain minimal, we will make concessions and sacrifice certain parts.

This is where the strategy lies: what are the values to be deployed first, since we cannot achieve everything at the same time.

As the iterations progress, new product increments will be generated. It will be completed with new features. The existing system, i.e. the result of previous iterations, will be corrected and improved by ensuring continuity.

The iteration will follow a logical cycle:

  1. Gather the ideas

  2. Build an increment of the product

  3. Publish the product increment

  4. Mesure

  5. Stock the Data measurements and feedback

  6. Analyze and learn from this Data

Workers

Here is an example:

At the time of writing, UKAL Elevage site is at this stage of the project: an MVP of what it should be in the future. Today, the catalogue is available to the public at no cost. Tomorrow, the product prices will be synchronized with the ERP, the day after tomorrow the site will be open to professionals who will be able to see the prices and place orders (this is a B2B site), and the day after tomorrow it will offer a catalogue available to the public (B2C), then other sites will complete the system.

Each phase is deployed at different times, depending on the communication needs of the e-marketing department (opening of the MVP during trade fairs for example) or the availability of technical solutions (data synchronization with the ERP).

What about Design in all this? ?

 

From a technical point of view, this strategy offers a good guarantee to test and validate a precise (minimal) and stable (viable) functionality. Although, it is hard to know about its effectiveness in terms of understanding and adherence: the subjectivity of the impression left by the product to the users who is testing it.

Indeed, the MVP does not say that the product resulting from the first iteration will be beautiful, pleasant and capable of getting users together.

This is the subject of another debate that can be found on the Internet on this subject: MVP or MLP? Minimum Viable Product or Minimum Loveable Product?

MLP

Viable is the function. It works, so it's viable. The value created is a business value. Loveable is the emotional value you will offer to your customers. It implies that it works (so it's viable) and it's attractive. This is the subjective value that makes the user take some pleasure (or even pride) by using your product.

The difference may in some cases be as fine as cigarette paper, but you feel it. It sets the stage for the adoption of your product by the target audience. Forgetting this aspect of the project and you are at risk to completely distort your tests by getting very little feedback from users. If your users do not recognize your DNA, your soul, they will simply ignore and remain indifferent to your product, regardless of its level of completeness (minimal or total).

 

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