Basil Pastukhow Head of QA

    MVP Development Process: How to Speed It Up Without Quality Loss

    The MVP development process is a must-have stage for both startups that want to occupy a niche and aim to create an innovative solution, and medium or large enterprises that plan to diversify their products.

    For 12 years now, we at Surf have been helping our clients develop bleeding-edge products and improve existing ones. And from our experience, we can say that a well-designed MVP is one of the key factors in the success of a full-fledged product. In this article we’ll try to figure out what makes an MVP software so valuable and share practical tips on developing one quickly and efficiently.

    Benefits of MVP development for business

    MVP software development is a bridge between theoretical ideas and practice. MVP software has several goals including  testing the real demand of the audience for your product,  yourself from financial losses, and  preparing for pitching. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

    • Validate your idea

    The need to validate the idea is a rule common to startups presenting a brand new solution, as well as to large companies that decide to diversify their product line and stay competitive. 

    Majority of startups fail due to poor market fit. MVP development will help to avoid failure. Big companies creating a new product have less at stake than startups, they have no threat of real failure. However it is a double-edged sword, because their audience has certain expectations, so product managers need to hit it exactly. MVPs can help established companies make sure their product will meet these expectations.

    You can be a thousand times sure about the success of your product, but until you verify it in the field, that confidence will remain unjustified.

    • Reduce the risk of financial losses

    MVP development process doesn’t take much time and doesn’t demand such big expenses, as full version, since the project contains only basic functionalities. Its purpose is to give the audience and investors an insight into the future product: its general idea, utility and uniqueness. The idea may or may not justify itself – both are okay. If it turns out to be successful – you can move on, look for investors and you’re in the black, and if not – you don’t lose that much in the case of MVP compared to the development of a full-fledged application.

    • Acquire audience and gather insights

    Normally, the people who are among the first to try a product then form the backbone structure of the loyal audience. And that part of the customers usually generates 80% of all revenue. Minimum viable product development will help you gain an initial audience that can then be converted into loyal customers. Moreover, the early-adopters’ feedback will help you identify the weaknesses of your project and understand what functionality to add further and in general, in what direction to move and pivot. Two birds with one MVP.

    • Attract investors

    Obtaining funding is one of the most important and at the same time the most challenging goal of a startup at an early stage. For example, the acceptance rate of one of the most famous accelerators, Y Combinator, is only 1.5-2%. In other words, Y Combinator accepts only 400 out of 20,000 applications. 

    A quality MVP software is a great way to get into that 1.5-2%. You do not need to find the right words to describe your product in detail—investors will test everything themselves. Well-designed MVP will also show that you are committed to the project and you have the right team that can make a genuinely viable solution and scale it. One of our clients, a fintech startup from Y Combinator, raised one of the largest rounds of pre-seed funding in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region with the neobank application we developed for them.

    neobank app mockups
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    Tips on MVP development

    The processes of developing a full-fledged product and the minimum viable product are similar. However, despite the fact that MVP looks much simpler, its creation is in a certain degree more difficult: it must be done quickly, remain quite simple and at the same time present precisely  the essence of the idea and the future product. Here are a few ideas to help meet these requirements.

    Find the right team

    Middle+ developers are a significant advantage, but you should choose the team not only by the level of its members. It is also worth paying attention to some other details. For example, here are some questions to ask a potential contractor’s team at the negotiation stage:

    • What stages of internal acceptance the specific features or the project as a whole go through

    There is a lot at stake in MVP development, and it is important to make sure that the contractor carefully monitors the quality of development and complies with the requirements and needs of the client. This question will also help you find out how transparent the contractor’s internal processes are.

    At Surf, for example, we conduct general project and tech retrospective meetings, and design reviews with clients to make sure that we are moving according to plan.

    • What kinds of architecture the developers work with

    Choosing the type of architecture for an MVP is an important and quite extensive topic of discussion. In a nutshell, microservice architecture is ideal for startups that need to scale quickly and plans to continue product development inhouse, and for large companies with high traffic. Monolithic architecture is difficult to scale and less reliable in certain cases, but it allows for faster application development.

    • What kind of documentation is built and handed over to the client

    Documentation allows clients and the development team to track development progress, MVP compliance with the initial requirements, quickly find problems and eliminate miscommunication. 

    Our team provides the client with the complete project documentation including technical requirements, API and backlog, list of developer tasks, user instructions and so on.

    CJM for pharma app

    Understanding the  key processes and matching the vision of the contractor and the client helps to create an effective working atmosphere on the project. The latter minimizes the risk of deadlines and budget overruns.

    Define business and system requirements

    Business requirements definition (BRD) starts with a market and audience analysis or research and then the results are processed to form the business needs, the project scope and feature list. The BRD is necessary for a clear understanding of what the final product should be by all participants of development. This prevents misunderstandings  that can slow down the development.

    Next comes the Systems Requirements Specification (SRS), which records what technical tools will be needed to implement the necessary features, limitations, and acceptance criteria. It allows the team to determine the most effective technical solutions that meet the required development time and budget.

    Monzo cards and mockup

    Prioritize the MVP features

    A full list of features is defined at the SRS stage, and then comes the prioritization. MVPs should include enough functionality to showcase the project concept to the target audience. However, at the same time not so many that will slow the development process down and distract users from the main thing—the idea and the quality of its presentation. The prioritization of features also takes into account the actual budget and timing of the project.

    At Surf, we offer our clients to conduct a brief CJM workshop where we together with the client’s stakeholders identify primary features to be included in the MVP. We define and visualize the user’s steps, determining their  expectations from the interaction with the elements of the system. Then, based on this map, we form a general list of features, which we distribute by importance and stages of development: from crucial ones for MVP to the ones that will be included in a full-fledged product.

    prioritization methods infographics

    Be ready for the high load

    Keep your expectations low, but be ready for great audience interest in your MVP. It may happen that you hit the needs of the audience and the product will create a buzz, and the conversion rate will jump during the first days after release. The backend for the MVP software should be lightweight, but you still need to be prepared for a certain level of load. This is important so as not to lose time on fixing flaws.

    This was the case with one of our clients, an online pet shop. Within the first couple of weeks after the application release, they had a 15% conversion rate. That’s not to say we didn’t expect that: we did an extensive and thorough UX research to achieve the values. However, many startup founders may not be ready for such an increased  load on the system. That’s why it’s worth taking care of the backend’s resilience to high load.

    pet shop app mockups

    Why choose Surf to build your MVP?

    • 12+ cross-industry expertise

    Since 2011 we’ve been building native and cross-platform apps for startups and world-famous companies in fintech, retail, foodtech, healthcare and other domains. Over this time, we have become adept at developing applications for a variety of requirements. We are familiar with the nuances of both the technical and business part of the project, which allows our clients  to get the results faster and without any pitfalls.

    • 30% faster time-to-market

    Broad tech and project management expertise and our own automation solutions like SurfGen, allow us to build MVPs 3-4 times faster without sacrificing project quality. The tool automates performing  some of the tedious and time-consuming tasks, such as developing code for model server queries and responses which are usually done manually.

    • 40% economy

    We’re early-adopters of Flutter, a cross-platform SDK which is great for MVP development since it provides a single code-base for all platforms including mobile,  web, and desktop. As a result, you can hire only one development team avoiding extra expenses and deliver you MVP faster

    • Fullstack middle+ team

    Our team consists of 250+ specialists with varied expertise in different industries. MVP development team for your project will include senior project manager, senior UX-researcher, middle+ designer, architect, backend and frontend developers depending on the project scope.

    • Thorough quality control at every stage

    Research, planning, and development of the MVP software takes place under the watchful eye of the project manager. Regular code and design reviews and retrospectives are provided within the development team to identify problems and improve the quality of the project. We also keep in touch with clients and present the results of the work after each sprint.

    Wrapping up

    Many successful projects started small. For ProductHunt it was a mailing list, DropBox started with a video guide, and Uber – with a lean app with a tiny user base. Nowadays, around 85% of screen time is spent using apps. And an MVP app is perfect if you need to reach your target audience quickly, make your future product demanded and easy to use.

    We at Surf develop scalable, research-based MVP apps in 3-5 months and help our clients to get investments quickly and become leaders of their niche. If you are looking for an experienced team you can trust with your idea, we’re striving to build the future.