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October 16, 2017

The Minimal Viable Product: Good for Companies Large and Small

When creating software, it’s not unusual to try to ‘reach for the stars’, trying to complete the entire software in the first release. We don’t think that’s wise: if things go wrong or your company’s strategy changes during the software development process you may end up never getting it done, or at least fall far behind schedule. This is where minimal viable product (MVP) development comes in

What is the Minimal Viable Product?

As the name suggests, MVP is a development strategy where the  goal is to make your software product viable -- meaning you’re not developing the entire vision just yet. Initial stages include only the most important features; changes and additions are developed in future releases. MVP allows companies to bring a product to market much faster and typically results in better user reception because development is driven by user response.

MVP development is popular among smaller software development firms because it works well for smaller teams with smaller budgets. Larger companies, however, typically eschew MVP development because they have the manpower and money to develop a more fully functional app, but that’s a misguided preconception of what an MVP is.

Accelerance leaders Steve Mezak and Tom Cooper think MVP has a place in the development strategy for large software companies. Tom relays a story where he was working with a big SaaS company and realized that delivering just two percent of what the client wanted would deliver value. The executives, used to ‘reaching for the stars’, balked at Tom’s suggestion.

“Their initial response was, ‘Tom, that's not enough. We would not be willing to buy your product if you could only give us 2%. You need to give us 97%’,” Tom says. “But we worked with them and built that 2% and we showed them here's your data in this 2% and what do you think? They said, ‘Oh my gosh. That's a lot more valuable than we thought’.'”


You can only imagine how much time this company saved in bringing a product to market, and money too. This particular company was also able to fund successive releases on the returns of their MVP -- whereas before they would have taken a much larger financial risk. “However, there are some pushback against MVP development because of stereotypes,” Steve adds.

“I think, too, the concept of an MVP has gotten a bad reputation with some people in that I just have this crazy idea. I don't know if it's gonna work, so let me just put something together and see if it sticks’,” Steve say

Big companies may have larger budgets, but Tom adds that they too can run out of money and give up in frustration if they take too much on all at once. This frustration can be project-killing if you develop this gargantuan product, only to have it fail in the market.

Failure with an MVP is much cheaper and less frustrating, and the response to the issues with your MVP could give you enough to turn it around in version two.

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Andy Hilliard

As CEO, Andy leads and advocates for the globalization and collaboration of great software teams with companies in search of talent, innovation and a globally-distributed extension of their engineering function and culture. Andy founded the ground-breaking nearshore software development services company, Isthmus Costa...

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