Want to know how to create a minimum viable product for your enterprise company?
MVPs are a great way of testing out a new software product idea.
Why It’s Key to Effectively Manage MVP Development
A “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) in the enterprise context isn’t the same as an MVP in a start-up. You need to carefully manage MVP software development in an enterprise since various factors can make it a complex project. These factors are as follows:
- An enterprise is different from a start-up since it already has a large customer base. Unless you manage it well, your MVP software development project can go wrong and damage your reputation.
- Startups fail all the time. They, however, have plenty of elbow room for trial-and-error, Enterprises can’t afford that.
- A start-up can launch an MVP first and redesign it later for scalability. However, you as an enterprise business leader must plan for scalability from the very beginning.
- While open-source software is a boon for innovation, many such solutions are not available for enterprise usage. Some open-source software may lack scalability and security features, therefore, you need to carefully weigh your options.
- You should try to bake in automation from the beginning of your MVP process.
Read “MVP for Enterprise: Great Potential, Great Danger” for more insights.
Different MVP Development Strategies
We will discuss four ways to create a minimum viable product for your SaaS solution.
Landing Page MVP:
A digital presence is vital for businesses to reach new audiences efficiently. Landing pages are necessary when the product is ready and needs to be launched in the user market.
Why not invest in interactive and informative landing pages beforehand as part of the MVP strategy?
1. Build a landing page discussing in detail the benefits and features of your software product.
2. Invest in an AdWords campaign. It will drive internet traffic to your brand-new website. You can create ads for business ideas and analyze how users respond to them.
3. Measure the conversion rate by adding a call to action option such as enabling them to pre-order or have a detailed product catalog by signing up, etc.
Some e-commerce businesses adopting the landing page MVP strategy even let potential customers add products to the basket as part of a presale strategy.
The approach gives businesses an idea of how well the consumers are responding to their soon-to-be-stocked products.
CEO and co-founder of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne, explains the technique of implementing landing page MVP strategy effectively as follows, “Ask them to click a signup button at least before giving you their email…. Ask them to click a “pricing plans” button, choose a plan and then give their email and you’re actually getting some validated learning.
Follow it up with a conversation and you might learn why they gave you their email and whether they truly have the problem you’re solving for.”
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You can read more details on the landing page MVP by Joel Gascoigne here.
Explainer Video MVP:
Businesses create explainer videos to demonstrate the core functionality of their future business product. Dropbox adopted this MVP strategy.
You may or may not invest in a prototype MVP at this stage depending on your business product idea.
An interactive video explaining your future software solution is enough to build potential customers’ curiosity and shape their response to the product features.
This approach is also called Wizard of Oz MVP. It is based on testing your product idea in the user market without actually building it.
Potential customers are given the illusion of a fully-functional product to record their responses. In reality, however, businesses utilize short-term solutions like Amazon Mechanical Turk at the backend.
The low-cost approach allows businesses to fully invest at a later stage in the development process, once a positive response from users makes clear that their idea will work.
Ecommerce company, Zappos, has successfully invested in Flintstone’s MVP strategy.
Concierge MVP does not even require product development in the initial stages. Businesses offer manual services to the customer where they need help. During the process, they gain insights into what target users need a solution for, what they dislike, and so on.
The Food on the Table company provides meal-planning services to its users. It started out as a concierge MVP business idea.
The company’s CTOs would personally reach out to potential customers, handpick their food ingredients, provide tailored diet plans to them, etc.
The approach gave them valuable information on how they can build the best solution to give the maximum value in terms of the user experience.
Next, in how to create a minimum viable product guide, we will discuss the procedure step-by-step.
A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Create a Minimum Viable Product in an Enterprise
I will now explain the various steps to create a successful MVP in an enterprise, which are as follows:
1. Carefully plan your MVP software development project
Developing a “Minimal Enterprise Viable Product” (MEVP) involves plenty of key tasks, so you need to plan carefully. You should first hire a competent project manager (PM) with experience in delivering Agile projects.
The agile methodology works well with the MVP development process for software solutions. Software products technologies and their user market change frequently.
Therefore, adopting an incremental development process that frequently gathers user feedback helps in successful product development and achieving your overall business goals.
Your project management team can use agile development frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. Scrum is widely used in software development where product development iterations are called “Sprints”.
The scrum master decides on sprint tasks and assigns them to different cross-functional development teams.
The software development team conducts daily standups and weekly review meetings to monitor each developer’s performance as well as the overall progress of the project.
Hire a competent software development architect and a capable team of business analysts. The planning process should cover all steps in the MVP development project, which are as follows:
- Identifying the business needs and understanding what the market needs through market research.
- The discovery session.
- Clearly define what problem your MVP will solve and outline the solution.
- Prioritizing the functionality for the MVP using tools like “Pain and gain map”, prioritization matrix, etc.;
- Divide product features into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won’t-haves.
- Must-haves define the value proposition for an MVP, should-haves are necessary for the final end-product, could-haves are features that software can have for additional functionalities, and won’t-haves define undesirable functionalities. Read more about MoSCoW Method here.
- Formulating a product development approach.
- Figure out user flow. Map out how users will interact with your software product from beginning to end. This will help you to prioritize target consumer convenience and plan out essential features for each stage.
- Development, testing, and deployment.
If you need guidance for project planning, then consult our guide “How to effectively manage an MVP in your enterprise company”.
2. Avoid disrupting your core business while developing an MVP
You need to allocate a significant amount of resources and time to develop an MVP in your enterprise, and this can take a toll on your core business model.
Your project planning exercise should proactively mitigate this risk, and this involves the following:
- Ensure that you have enough competent people to support your core business applications so that the MVP development project doesn’t stretch your maintenance team too thin. Assigning both maintenance and MVP development to the same team could create priority conflicts.
- Plan your software infrastructure solution for your MVP development project in a way that you don’t adversely impact your core business apps.
- If you plan to utilize any of your existing software applications in your MVP app, then you should plan on creating robust APIs for the existing apps.
- Proactively mitigate application security risks for your MVP app. If you are accessing your existing software apps via APIs, then you should ensure API security too.
Our guide “How to Build an Enterprise MVP without disrupting your core business” can help you with this.
3. Choose an appropriate IT architecture pattern
The right choice of software architecture pattern goes a long way toward the success of any software development project, and it’s true for developing an enterprise MVP too.
You need to study the various software architecture patterns before you make a decision.
I have explained the key architecture patterns in “Large enterprise Java projects architecture”, which are as follows:
- Layered (n-tier) architecture;
- Even-driven architecture;
- Microkernel architecture, which is suitable for high-usage tools;
- Microservice architecture;
- Space-based architecture.
Note that if you are offering multiple distinct and separate services in your MVP app, then the microservice architecture could be the right choice for you.
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Read our guide “10 best practices for building a microservice architecture” for more insights.
4. Proactively manage application security risks
As an enterprise, you have worked hard to build your reputation over the years, possibly decades, by serving your customers well. If your MVP product has a critical security risk, it will not only damage the prospects of that product, but it will damage your overall reputation.
Mitigate application security risks proactively. Read the “Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 application security risks” report, which highlights the top application security risks and their mitigation measures.
These risks are as follows:
- Broken authentication;
- Sensitive data exposure;
- XML external entities (XXE);
- Broken access control;
- Security misconfiguration;
- Cross-site scripting (XSS);
- Insecure deserialization;
- Using components with known vulnerabilities;
- Insufficient logging and monitoring.
You might create APIs as part of your MVP development. In that case, you should also ensure API security. The following are ways to can ensure API security:
- Use tokens for authentication;
- Make use of encryption and digital signatures;
- Proactively manage vulnerabilities;
- Use API gateways.
You can read more about this in “What is API security?”.
5. Use cloud platforms
MVP development timeframes are short, therefore, you need to quickly provision your infrastructure and computing resources. You should use cloud computing platforms since managed cloud service providers help with this.
If your MVP app doesn’t have stringent data privacy requirements, then you could use a multi-tenant public cloud. This reduces your cost, as you can read in “Creating a minimum viable product for the enterprise: No trivial task”.
If you are developing a web app as part of the MVP, then you will benefit from using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platform, e.g., AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
PaaS platforms offer the following advantages:
- Such platforms manage the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. You can focus on development.
- PaaS platforms let you easily integrate databases and other services with your app, moreover, you can integrate APIs easily.
- Prominent PaaS platforms offer robust DevOps and auto-scaling solutions.
Read our guide “10 top PaaS providers” for more information.
Are you developing a mobile app as part of your MVP? You should then consider using a Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platform like AWS Amplify. MBaaS platforms offer many advantages, e.g.:
- You don’t need to develop and manage the mobile backend since the MBaaS provider manages the cloud infrastructure, persistent storage, etc.
- It’s easier to implement security features when you use an MBaaS platform, moreover, you can easily implement features like user management and push notifications.
- You can scale your mobile app easily when you use an MBaaS platform.
I have explained the advantages of using an MBaaS platform in “How to Choose the Best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.
6. Choose the right technology stack
The technology landscape is full of excellent programming languages and robust database solutions, however, you need to choose the right technology stack for your requirements. I recommend the following:
- Use js if you are developing a web app since this open-source runtime helps to create scalable and performant web apps.
- As I explained in “10 great tools for Node.Js software development”, there are excellent open-source tools and frameworks for Node.js, which expedite your project.
- You can use Kotlin for native Android development since it helps to improve your productivity. Kotlin also helps to avoid common programming errors, moreover, apps coded in Kotlin are performant.
- The other option is Java, which continues to be a favorite with Android developers. Our guide “Kotlin vs Java: which is the best choice?” can help you to choose between the two.
- Swift is a great choice for developing native iOS apps since you can code performant apps using it. The language has powerful features that improve your productivity, moreover, it helps you to avoid common coding errors.
- It’s also the language championed by Apple, as I explained in “How to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift?”.
- If your MVP includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), then you could use either Python or Julia.
- Python is well-established with powerful features and libraries, while Julia is a relatively new language with powerful features.
- Our guide “Julia vs Python: can this new programming language unseat the King?” can help you to choose.
- You can use PostgreSQL, a powerful open-source relational database management system (RDMBS). If you need to use a NoSQL database, then MongoDB is a robust choice.
7. Form the complete MVP development team
You need to form a complete team with knowledge of how to create a minimum viable product, however, the exact team composition will depend on your project scope. The team might need the following roles:
- UI designers;
- Web developers with Node.js skills;
- Android developers with Kotlin or Java skills;
- iOS developers with Swift skills;
- DevOps engineers.
Our guide “How to find a good software developer” can help you to find developers.
Additionally, if your MVP scope includes AI/ML, then you will need to hire AI developers with Python skills.
You might need to hire Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) developers if your project scope requires these technologies.
MVP development can be complex, therefore, you need a team that works cohesively. Onboarding a field-expert development team will help, as I have in “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams”.
8. Select the right development and testing tools
You can expedite your project by using the appropriate development and testing tools. The choice of tools will depend on your project scope, e.g.:
- Consider using market-leading “Integrated Development Environments” (IDEs) like Eclipse for web app development, Android Studio for native Android development, and Xcode for native iOS development.
- You can use the Microsoft Azure AI Platform for AI development or find more options in our guide “The Best Artificial Intelligence software development tools”.
- Vuforia and Wikitude are good choices for AR development, as I have explained in “The ultimate guide to Choosing the right enterprise AR Solution”.
- You can consider Unity or Amazon Sumerian for VR development, however, you can find more options in “10 great tools for VR development”.
- The mobile apps you deliver should work with all devices, however, you need to test the apps with a wide range of mobile devices. You need a mobile device lab, and Experitest mobile device & browser lab is a robust choice.
9. Use a pragmatic approach for designing APIs
You will likely create and use APIs while developing the MVP app since APIs can make software development easier. Creating RESTful APIs can be a good option since “Representational State Transfer” or REST is well-established architecture.
However, I recommend GraphQL, a relatively new open-source query language for APIs. It has several advantages over REST, e.g.:
No “under-fetching” or “over-fetching” with GraphQL
When your app calls a RESTful API to retrieve data, then the API returns all the data in the API endpoint.
If your app needs additional data fields, then it has to call multiple API endpoints. This is called “under-fetching”. If the app needs fewer fields, then it will face the challenge of “over-fetching”.
GraphQL features a powerful query language, therefore, developers can request the exact data elements they want. This eliminates the problems of over-fetching and under-fetching. Read “REST vs. GraphQL” for more insights.
A faster front-end iterations with GraphQL
You create RESTful APIs in line with the views in your front end and call the API endpoint to get all the data you need in that view.
While this helps, any changes to the front-end view will require either more or less data, therefore, you need to change the API too.
This can slow down the MVP iterations. You can overcome this challenge with GraphQL since you can query the API for the exact fields you need.
This eliminates the need to change the API every time you change the front end, therefore, you can iterate faster. You can read “GraphQL is the better REST” to learn more.
10. Build Measure and Learn
Adopt a build-measure-learn approach for the MVP development process. Your business will not start generating revenues at the beginning point.
This initial MVP development stage is more about learning and gauging feedback from the target audience.
To effectively benefit from an MVP methodology, invest in a user base. You can use services like BetaList to efficiently run your MVP or beta versions and to allow a lot of potential users to engage with your software solution.
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You can then collect this usage data to analyze how your software product is sitting with a wider end-user base. You can set performance metrics to measure the product’s viability in terms of meeting potential customers’ needs.
10. Conduct User Feedback :
You can use services like SurveyMonkey to efficiently reach your target users. You can contact them to ask if they are facing any problems or want to suggest any product improvements or new features.
11. Improve Your MVP as per User Needs:
By now you will have all the necessary information regarding customer feedback to provide them with the best solution that validates or solves their problems.
Use this data to update your MVP, and go through the build-measure-learn cycle. Each iteration of product development will improve MVP features and an overall finished product.
Minimum Viable Product Examples
The following examples of companies adopting MVP successfully will give you a better idea of how to create a minimum viable product for your enterprise.
Airbnb founders pitched the idea of renting out their own homes to travelers unsatisfied with the pricey and poor hotel services. The business started from a plain website with pictures of the accommodation.
It was a form of an MVP that was eagerly accepted by the traveling enthusiastic audience and converted into a successful business model.
The user response showed the business founders that their business product is in demand, converting their simple website into a global platform for finding short-term rental spaces around the world.
At the time of Dropbox’s launch, there were lots of cloud-storage services available online for users. Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston, invested in an explainer video MVP on how to use the product, what it offers, etc.
The video reached the right audience effectively and helped in gauging their interest and feedback.
Dropbox received 70 thousand email addresses from potential customers in a single day. The positive response from the right audience gave Dropbox owners the green light to launch the finished product into the user market.
This social media company started as an SMS-based platform named ‘twttr’. The company was using it internally at first. They released it for public use later to expand it into the public domain and have not looked back.
When the company saw that it is an instant hit among internet users, Twitter increased its user base, improved its product, and became the second most popular social media networking platform after Facebook.
Zappos founder, Nick Swinmurn, started with the idea of selling shoes online to customers. This was before e-commerce stores were popular. Nick went to a store, shot pictures of shoes, and uploaded them on the website.
When a user made a purchase, Nick would go to a store, buy it and deliver it to the user. The approach adopted by Zappos founder was based on the Flintstone MVP strategy where a customer believes a fully-functional business process is in place.
Nick’s business, Zappos, was readily welcomed by the customers and was bought by Amazon for 1.2 billion US dollars.
Planning to Create an MVP for Your Enterprise?
This guide on how to create a minimum viable product is designed to help you develop your MVP, however, MVP development in an enterprise company can be complex. Consider engaging a reputed software development company for such projects.
Software development companies have top-quality software developers who are fully vetted for the right technical expertise. They become part of a reputed software development company after undergoing technical interviews, test projects, and training.
You, as a CTO, will need to hire technical resources as per your project requirements. If you already have an in-house team of software developers and need resources such as testers and designers, you get that option too.
Therefore, partnering with a hybrid software company and outsourcing their software developers not only gives access to high-quality talent but also adds flexibility in hiring technical resources.
Moreover, professional software development companies, like DevTeam.Space, provide a technical manager to help their clients. The technical manager is a senior developer who has experience in developing and deploying software solutions similar to yours.
You can assess a software development company for its technical and project management abilities by going through its website. You will find the company’s past projects, clients, and reviews there.
Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to learn more on how you can find such a development partner or simply get in touch with DevTeam.Space by filling out this project specification form.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to Eric Ries, a minimum viable product or MVP is a basic first version of a new product. It allows the company behind the application to launch the product to get valuable feedback with the least effort.
This feedback tells how users respond as well as enhancements that they would like. These can then be added to future product versions.
You need to define the basic features that you wish to let your users use. Once you have done this, instruct your developers to build the MVP to the basic specifications.
Keep in mind that they will need to know the full details of the core functionality so that they factor in future enhancements etc. when writing the code.
It allows companies to gain valuable customer feedback in early-stage. An MVP also reduces exposure to risk as it means companies don’t need to spend resources in terms of development costs and development time building full products when they are not even sure if the product will succeed.