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The Minimum Viable Product

We often hear the term “Minimum Viable Product” discussed with regard to the first version of custom software. It’s an important part of agile software development and the product development process. However, on many occasions the more concise term would be “Minimum Marketable Product”, which is quite different. This article will describe the differences between the two and clarify when is best to use each term.

Let’s begin by defining both terms.

Minimum Viable Product

Eric Ries, author of the book “The Lean Startup”, defines the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as:

That version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

Put simply, this means that an MVP is a vehicle to learn more about customers and gain feedback using a working version of the software. It is a way to prove or disprove hypotheses or assumptions without investing too much into a fully developed product or feature set.

An MVP is definitely not a product for public launch, even if it has the minimum functionality necessary for it. Rather, it is a research tool to prepare for the initial product release. It can be as simple as wireframes or interactive mock-ups like we would create in Figma.

Minimum Marketable Product

On the other hand, here is a description of a Minimum Marketable Product as defined by Mairead Quigley for xDesign:

An MMP incorporates a core set of functionalities that addresses customer/user needs, creates the desires user experience and can start creating quantifiable value for the business. An MMP can be released to market with its must-have functionality that can then be scaled and developed to incorporate the “nice to have” functionality.

This means that the time to market is reduced, due to being simpler than a feature-rich product, while still fulfilling the requirements of users. The MMP is the first stage of an iterative development process during the lifespan of the software product, and should be created with the expectation that new features will be added (and old ones improved) over time.

It enables the software owner to begin monetising the product to fund further investment, begins the brand/product recognition process, and is only focused on features which are absolutely necessary. This lays a solid foundation for future development and makes for a better User Experience (UX) from day 1.

How To Use MVPs and MMPs

Though the definitions are gradually shifting and both terms slowly merging, we believe it is good to make the distinction between them. This is because they can both be used together as a part of the product development process.

By beginning with the creation of one or more MVPs, you can research, test and prove your assumptions. Feedback can be gathered on the look and feel of the product, the UI, UX and more. Some MVPs will be retained and developed into MMPs, and others will be rejected.

After the data gathering from the MVPs, the feedback can be assimilated into a final, release-ready MMP. This should theoretically be ready to take to market once a suitable rollout strategy has been prepared.

Summary

The terms “Minimum Viable Products” and “Minimum Marketable Products” are often used interchangeably, but the subtle difference in their meanings can be incredibly important. They both have a place in the iterative process of developing software, and many other products too.

To learn more about how we can help you by creating software MVPs or MMPs for your business, contact us now for a chat!