In the current world of ever-evolving product development and tech startups, coming up with a successful software product, particularly a minimum viable product (MVP), is a complex task involving critical decision-making at every phase. You need to come up with wonderful ways of managing ideas and technical and human resources. Current statistics imply that many startups falter at the initial step due to the inability to showcase their product’s unique value and engage their target audience. If a given release can’t reveal the objective to the target users and convince them of the competitive advantages, it is hard to draw the audience’s interest and retain them. The end result is a failure.
To convert a brilliant idea into a marketable product, MVP development is the breaking point for entrepreneurs and innovators. This article explains the important process of MVP development, addressing the need to choose only those features that will meet the audience’s expectations and set your application uniquely in the market. However, the true challenge lies in building an MVP and knowing which features to include. We also show you effective feature prioritization strategies, ensuring your MVP captures the important elements to succeed in a competitive environment. It is a critical decision-making process, turning a simple idea into a product or application that resonates with the target audience and provides real-world value.
You need to understand that prioritizing features for an MVP is both an art and a science. It calls for a deep understanding of the market, a clear vision of your product, and the capability to distinguish what is essential versus what can wait. We can never overstate the significance of the process; it is so delicate in balancing between practicality and ambition, and each decision is bound to greatly impact the product’s trajectory. Several startups end up with unnecessary features within the MVP, resulting in wasted time and resources. Others may set in too few features, ending up with a product that won’t engage users.
Some of the proven prioritization techniques we feature here include:
- MoSCoW Method
- Kano Model
- Value vs. Complexity analysis
Whether you are a budding entrepreneur, product manager, or development team member, read on to get the knowledge and tools to effectively prioritize features for your MVP.
What is the meaning of MVP?
In software development practice, MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It is a great way where you concentrate on creating an app with just enough features to address the core need or offer value to the intended users. MVP can serve as the functional version of your product in readiness for market release to get feedback and verify most of the initial hypotheses. You take basic functionalities requiring less time, less effort, and fewer resources to develop.
MVP is an important step in the development, and we can consider it a start point within the software product’s roadmap. The development team gets a chance to launch a basic but operational version of the app efficiently and cost-effectively to collect valuable insights from actual users.
We consider Eric Ries the first individual to introduce the MVP concept in his book Lean Startup. The book defines ways entrepreneurs obtain value in their business ventures by ensuring development happens in incremental stages. It showcases the need to adopt a feedback loop, which he defines as a Build-Measure-Learn loop. The success of this concept depends on developers and clients working together.
This is when the development team substantiates their assumptions, evaluates the application’s value proposition, and gets feedback to help in future development and improvements. It is a good process to minimize the risks of creating a fully-featured product that does not align with market needs or expectations. The success of customer applications calls for defining MVP features from the onset.
A Clear View of MVP Feature Prioritization
We define MVP feature prioritization as a unique method to identify the core features you need to be featured in the minimum viable product. The process helps determine the functionalities to implement and deploy first when undertaking software development. Feature prioritization will depend upon the feedback from the intended users through the guidance of the problem you are solving for the users. You take time to review other related products closely and come out with the important features (killer features) to establish the viability of the first release. It is advisable to achieve the features and avoid spending funds and time on other features that are not core, and they may happen to change within future application versions based on client feedback.
Features Prioritization helps the product team and designers distinguish between wants and needs. You use different methods focusing on different use cases. Much consideration is given to user flows, effort, and cash requirements.
Failure to prioritize MVP features for your software app can lead to several issues. They may include:
- Going out of scope. You may include unnecessary features that do not align with the product’s principal value and may result in project expansion. Project expansion will mean delays, budget strains, and the likelihood of not delivering within timelines.
- Mismanagement of resources. Whenever undertaking a software development project, you will realize a limit in such resources as development capacity, budget, and time. Misallocating the resources to less critical features may lead to inefficiencies and missing the chance to release the essential features.
- Loss of focus. Without prioritization, the development team may fail to concentrate on the primary value and purpose of the product. The team can become overwhelmed by trying to include too many features simultaneously. The overall product experience becomes diluted and may fail to meet user expectations.
- Delayed market entry. Whenever the development team focuses on less impactful features, valuable time and effort are lost, leading to delays. Once the development timeline is extended, it means a delayed product launch.
- User dissatisfaction. Without prioritization, you may end up with a product that won’t effectively address user needs. If such a case happens, the user becomes disappointed, adoption rates will be low, and negative feedback will impact the software’s success and viability.
Effective prioritization helps the development team place much focus on the most crucial features first. The team uses the approach to deliver a functional, user-centric MVP that facilitates early user feedback. It is a good way to ensure optimum resource utilization, stay on track, shorten the market launch time, and improve the chances of building a successful application.
The MVP Feature Prioritization Models/ Approaches
Being an art and a science, MVP feature prioritization adheres to several approaches or models. Development teams use different universal approaches by identifying key features among the many ideas and addressing challenges depending on different value bases. The team should take a keen interest and engage in detailed analysis; if not, they should be replaced. The MVP’s effectiveness largely depends on the diversity and flexibility of the tools business analysts and top engineers or industry consultants use. Using several of the models to your advantage increases the chances of your software resonating with the target market and becoming fully satisfied with the final product. Here are some key models used in MVP feature prioritization:
User Story Mapping
This collaborative approach visualizes the user’s journey, prioritizing product development through capturing user stories (the brief functional descriptions of how a user perceives the product). The process involves mapping out main activities or steps in rows or horizontal lanes relating to a particular task/goal, with user stories as vertical cards within each of the lanes, organized logically to reflect the user journey. This method aligns the team with user needs, fostering great collaboration, effective communication, and decision-making.
Feature Priority Matrix
It is a visual tool categorizing MVP features based on their value to users and implementation effort. It is divided into quadrants like
- High Value – Low Effort: Top priority features fall here since they serve important value to target users and require minimal effort for implementation. It should appear in the initial MVP
- High Value – High Effort: High-value features fall here but require lots of development work. They can be set for future implementation depending on the availability of resources and the development constraints.
- Low Value – Low Effort: Has features with limited value to target users and call for minimal effort in implementation. You can deprioritize and reconsider depending on resource availability and development constraints.
- Low Value – High Effort: Contains features providing limited value to users yet calling for extensive effort in implementation. You can eliminate these features since there is no significant ROI.
This matrix helps in deciding which features to include in the initial release, weighing their user value against the required development effort.
This method was named after the former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. Sometimes known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. The approach categorizes tasks by urgency and importance, helping teams manage time and resources efficiently. It distinguishes between urgent-important features that need immediate attention and those important for long-term success but not urgently needed. It splits them into four quadrants:
- Urgent and Important: Has features calling for immediate attention and greatly impact handling critical issues. Give them the highest priority and implement them in MVP.
- Not Urgent but Important: Focuses on essential features that can be considered for long-term aims and success, though not calling for immediate implementation. You can schedule and prioritize them to ensure they don’t fall in Quadrant 1.
- Urgent but Not Important: These features are critical but do not have a significant contribution to the long-term priorities. Minimize or delegate the tasks for developing the features to have more time for Q1 and Q2.
- Not Urgent and Not Important: Not critical nor important to the project. Eliminate them or reduce the time for them.
It appears similar to the Feature Priority Matrix but focuses more on the impact on the customer or user experience; it assesses a feature’s potential effects on user satisfaction and usability. This is a two-dimensional matrix helping in prioritizing features by their impact versus the effort needed for implementation. It is in four quadrants
- High Impact – Low Effort
- High Impact – High Effort
- Low Impact – Low Effort
- Low Impact – High Effort
An acronym for Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have. This model categorizes features by their necessity, distinguishing between essential core functionalities and nice-to-have enhancements.
- Must-haves: Important features good for MVP achieving primary goals. Non-negotiable for initial release.
- Should-have: Necessary but not critical. They offer additional value or improve user experience. MVP is still good without them.
- Could-have: Nice but optional. It can be considered for future updates.
- Won’t-have: Do not appear in the list since they don’t align with objectives.
This model categorizes features based on their influence on customer satisfaction into types like Basic (obvious and expected within the product), Performance (better performance equals more satisfaction), Excitement (for exceeding expectations to increase loyalty), Indifferent (minor or little impact on user perception), and Reverse (negatively impact customer satisfaction), helping teams focus on delivering essential features while considering opportunities to exceed customer expectations.
Value vs. Complexity Analysis
This approach evaluates features by comparing their potential impact on the end-user against the implementation complexity. It aims to identify features that offer substantial benefits to users with relative ease in execution. Here, you prioritize high-value, low-complexity features and deprioritize low-value, high-complexity features.
Cost of Delay
This approach evaluates the potential costs or missed opportunities associated with delaying a feature’s release. The model prioritizes features based on market demand, strategic importance, and time sensitivity. Competitive advantage, revenue generation, business goals, customer satisfaction, and market share are also considered. The approach emphasizes those with a higher cost of delay, critical customer needs, or a high revenue potential.
Grouping by Numeric Value
This method organizes MVP features by importance, assigning numeric values to indicate priority levels. Lower numeric value features are given higher priority. 1 may indicate highest priority, 2 indicates medium priority, and numeric value 3 may denote lower priority. This system allows teams to clearly understand and agree on the priority of each feature, facilitating a more organized approach to MVP development.
We have seen that defining and prioritizing features for your MVP is critical when undertaking product development. The process ensures your product aligns with business objectives, offers value to customers, and is achievable within your developmental constraints. Choose an appropriate model to build a product that resonates well with customers and boosts your success.
Any queries? Get in touch with our MVP development company – Aalpha information systems!