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MVP – Earliest Testable Product

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) started as a buzzword that has become an essential concept for those leading software projects today. It is true, the idea behind the term has progressed and is now widely accepted. If you are unfamiliar with MVP and do not yet know how to use this strategy, this post is required reading.


As a person trying to learn about the MVP strategy, you may want to understand why we needed to learn a new acronym in the first place. Project Managers in the past and many today believe robust project requirements and accurate resource scheduling are sure ways to have a successful project. However, too often the “big bang” approach is not efficient for giving the users what they want. Even as the Agile methodology gained traction, usually it was not practiced how it was intended. This means teams did use iteration, but the products delivered at the end of early sprints were still unusable. Out of the heap of disappointment was born the MVP concept.


So while we have learned that upfront analysis is excellent, it does not compensate for putting an actual product into the hands to real customers. We still need to know precisely what MVP is.

The MVP is a version of a product or service that includes sufficient features to meet the needs of customers while allowing for the collection of as much information as possible. Therefore it must be a fully functioning product and able to generate genuine feedback from users.

This minimum viable product idea comes from the LEAN and Agile methodologies. Using the spirit of these techniques, designers separate product needs and wants where you build something that delivers just enough for customers to use your product. This will be the earliest testable product.


While the key take away from the definition of MVP is about generating valuable feedback, we want to learn more about the power of this strategy. Proponents of MVP point to cheaper, faster, and better products because you build guided by market demand rather than assumptions. These advantages are highlighted below.


If a Timex watch sealed the deal, you wouldn’t offer a Rolex. Don’t make decisions based on assumptions because that makes balancing risk and reward very difficult. So when you build a customer base with an MVP strategy, you have room to expand your market and also collect more revenue streams.


Delivering a marketable product is more important than working on perfection. Remember that it is easier to get people to say that they love your product versus having them agree to pay for it. MVP achieves opposite, where you generate a product your target audience will pay for.


By making a functional product and having and several customers try it, you are working at eliminating your own bias. MVP changes the vision on how to solve the need by extending the question to a much larger audience compared to other techniques. The final product results from customer collaboration and engagement.

Now that we have examined the benefits of the MVP, we turn to the practical part.

MVP Strategy in Wikimedia Commons licensed by Creative Commons

Releasing your first MVP doesn’t mean that you are ready to publically launch your product. It is reasonable to iterate for gaining a critical mass of features that are tested, validated, and used. At the point which your team is ready to launch is called the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP).

The defining principle behind a Minimum Viable Product is to learn quickly with the smallest investment. As you iterate and build multiple MVPs to create an MMP, the ultimate goal is to confirm your assumptions and respond to market feedback continually.

Robert Cushman
Robert Cushman

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