A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a development technique in which the products have just enough features to satisfy early adopters and to provide feedback for the final product development.  In other words, a minimum viable product is an initial version of the product in question that can be released to consumers in order to gain insights and validated learning that will help the development of the final product with the complete set of features. During the validation period it is important that you observe the behavior of consumers; from what they actually do with the product, to what they say an feel about it.

The concept of Minimum Viable Products is principled on the foundations of Lean and has been popularized by the consultant Eric Ries, who specialized in startups companies. MVP stresses out the importance of learning during new product development in order to avoid unnecessary costs and waste.

What are the expected benefits?

A minimum viable product (MVP) can yield significant benefits to the organization during the New Product Development phase. Some of the most noted benefits are:

  • Gain a deeper understanding in terms of how consumers’ perceive your product, especially against competitors’ products or substitutes.
  • Assess the potential of the product in a given market early in time. In the case that the product does not promise success, it is not worth moving on into the development phase which carries a lot of time, effort and expenses.
  • Provides a feedback loop that will feed future product development. Insights gained during the validation period can further be used to improve the products’ features in the final stage of product development. A cost-effective way to test a product with minimal resources, reduced waster and less expenditure.

What are the most common pitfalls?

Although the concept of the minimum viable product is widely used in various industries, many organizations make some mistakes, – either due to lack of understanding or due to confusion –  that do not allow the organizations to enjoy the benefits of a minimum viable product. These are the most common pitfalls that firms fall into:

  • Lack of understanding in terms of the features that need to be present in the MVP. If the organization does not provide enough features to the MVP it might not provide an accurate assessment.
  • Confusion in terms of how MVP is used as a feedback loop for the new product development phase.
  • Not devoting enough time and effort in the validation process. If not sufficient insights are extracted MVP will not provide an accurate indication of whether the product should continue, change or even entirely cancel the work done on a particular product.
  • According to Andrea Contigiani, an early release of an MVP may result in competitors imitating the product, which may hurt the company more than benefit it. Therefore, organizations must be cautious from the competition when releasing an MVP.