There is an old saying about product development- Great products are always ‘Work in Progress’. Sounds like a product owner’s nightmare, right? Taking a leaf from the Lean startup and Agile methodologies, there’s a lot of information out there about what a minimum viable product (MVP) is, what it should be and how it helps startups validate market segments. But with too many opinions, comes too many confusions. So, we will focus solely on those common MVP misconceptions which might distract you from achieving actual product goals.

Just to be sure everyone’s on the same page when we talk about a Minimum Viable Product (MVP):

MVP is the product in its bare minimum workable state

MVP is the answer to the question if your product idea is worth it. In simpler terms it seeks to validate two ends of the product development process: user and the development.

You might have a unique idea in your head but there are a thousand reasons why it might not work in the real market. To test that out, an MVP comes in handy. The term is self-explanatory. It is the product in its bare minimum workable state.

We could go on endlessly defining an MVP, quoting experts, using analogies, we know we could write an epic out of it, but enough of these mindless blabber. Here’s an interesting case-study on MVP development.

Let’s take care of those common misconceptions that may lead you off track.

MVP is focused on a single feature

An MVP tests the viability of the product in its base form. The product might have a single feature or a dozen of them, to validate users, an MVP must focus on the product, staying true to its core scope and help evolve the product naturally through user feedback.

Although there’s nothing wrong with coming up with the best features in the industry and implementing those in your product, what you need to consider first is, if your product has achieved the goal it set out to in the first place. If that’s taken care of, you can easily skip those out-of-the-world-features for the MVP.

If an MVP fails, product fails

While response to an MVP is important for the success of your product, we must understand that every product has multiple problem solving abilities. Just because the MVP fails to garner the expected response, that doesn’t necessarily mean your product is ill-fated. As a matter of fact, the sole purpose of an MVP is to test the waters without investing much, time and money-wise, so if an MVP fails, it brings along insights which can help you either address them or change your perspective and approach. If success stories of giants like Instagram teach us anything, it is this and this alone.

An MVP is a prototype in disguise

It’s true both an MVP and a prototype are pipeline stages and both of them are essential to test certain traits of the final product (although we don’t believe any product is ever final) and associated user feedback. But there is a primary difference between the two and that is all that matters.

Consider the prototype as an exhibition. Most of the time, it is targeted at seducing investors, showing off what your product is capable of and how it does what it does.

The MVP has no such ambitions. It is what it is. It is designed and developed to address basic problems and figure out if it is accepted by the users in its MVP form. If yes, then how can we make it better, if no, what are the shortcomings.

MVP is just for startups

With the mushrooming of startups across the globe and them being experimental and all, the common notion is that the MVP approach works for smaller firms and is not practical in larger enterprises and their products. But we say that’s a wrong way of looking at it. As a matter of fact, MVP makes sense for products of all sizes. And enterprise products are no exception. After all, an MVP is a feasible way of validating the market and it’s a win-win for all, something enterprise products can safely do and not impact the bottom line negatively.

MVP means great sales and profits

Just because an MVP is widely popular in the market and it is bringing in considerable sales and related profit, we shouldn’t stop pursuing the ideal version of the product. The success of the MVP is an indicator that there is much to be done and achieved.

As a matter of fact, there are no perfect MVPs as there are no perfect products (not yet) but every iteration should aim to take us one step closer to that utopian version of it. Instead of considering the MVP as the end-goal, we need to embrace it as a tool to learn and build better. Once these fundamentals are in place, sales and profits will follow automatically.

If you have a product idea and want to test it in the real market before developing the product at full scale, a minimum viable product is your best friend. It helps you prioritize what is required, find out what your target users are actually looking for and if it’s worth the effort in terms of time and finances. It goes beyond persona development and solves actual problems of actual users and more importantly collects valuable insights on its way.

What are the misconceptions about MVP you’ve heard? How effectively have you been using MVPs for your products? Feel free to let us know!

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