MVP Product Management: What Is It and How to Build One

Product Management
November 18, 2022
5 mins read
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A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features and functionalities that helps the business validate its hypotheses with the least investment. That is, MVPs are useful in validating ideas and learning more about the customers early on in the product development lifecycle.

It is the first, bare-bones form of your product that can provide or at least give an idea of the core values you intend to offer.

Consider the example of Airbnb. The founders, Brian and Joe, validated their idea by renting mattresses in their apartment and making breakfast for their guests in 2007. Airbnb has come a long way, but that MVP helped them validate their business idea.

Product management is a process that builds and maintains a product that delights the customers. During product management, MVPs play a pivotal role by collecting validated data about the target audience for the team.

In this post, let’s look at the five steps to build an MVP quickly.

Before we get to that, let’s dive a bit deeper into the role of MVP in product management.

The importance of MVP product management

MVP’s meaning in product management is to maximize learning with the minimum investment so that the development of the product can be planned and executed accurately. The benefits of MVP for product managers include:

  1. Test your hypotheses with real-life data from potential customers
  2. Reduce time-to-market for new products and features
  3. Test the business values of your ideas
  4. Deliver value to the early adopters while learning the positives and negatives
  5. Plan the next phases of your product roadmap accurately
  6. Shape your go-to marketing strategy based on the MVP’s reception

In simpler terms, MVPs help you make better business decisions.

Below are five steps that you can follow to build a minimum viable product to facilitate your MVP product management.

5 steps to build an MVP

1. Establish the need for the product

An MVP is a crucial learning step during product management but it is not the first step. Even though MVP product management requires less investment compared to the product, they still do need investment. Therefore, the first step to creating an MVP is to ensure its necessity.

MVPs will tell you which features are to be built or how the product should appear. To get to this step, you need to understand the problem and expectations of your target audience clearly.

For doing that, you need to spend a lot of time observing your competitors, talking to your customers through surveys and interviews, and conducting market research. All of that data will help you gain a real understanding of what needs to be built and will point you in the right direction.

One of the biggest challenges faced by product management teams in this step is collecting feedback from various sources and extracting meaningful insights from them. To curb this, you can use a product management tool such as Zeda.io which integrates with multiple customer feedback tools.

Zed workflows
(source)

2. Ideate essential features that add value to the users

Your product and its functionalities are a means to a value desired by your target audience. After establishing the needs of your target audience, you need to define the means that will get them to the value they want.

This is where members of the product team pitch ideas for the product or its features which could potentially solve the problem faced by the users. Here proper collaboration is necessary for soft-testing the ideas at hand.

The challenge here is the complicacy of communicating each idea. For instance, each idea represents a set of features/functionalities that will be accessed by the user. Each of those sets is weighed on the basis of parameters such as usability, satisfaction, dev challenges, etc.

The simplest method to work around this is to visualize your ideas through prototypes. Prototypes are the representations of your ideas. They can be as simple as a set of sequential steps, images, or sketches. The most prevalent ones are wireframes.

Zeda.io allows team members to create wireframes that can help them convey their proposals accurately.

You can collaboratively edit wireframes to build on the ideas under consideration.

Wireframe feature

At the end of this step, you should be ready with a handful of ideas, one of which will become the basis of the MVP.

3. Map out the user flow

The most viable and feasible idea becomes the basis of the product management MVP.

The viability and feasibility of the ideas are tested by building a narrative. It is a story where a user goes from point A to B with the help of a medium. ‘A’ represents the point where they have the problem, ‘B’ is the point where the problem is solved, and the medium is your product.

Writing such a story defines the state of the user as they get closer to the solution which puts more emphasis on the customer satisfaction level while choosing the best idea.

Communicating your story clearly with the rest of the team is crucial in choosing the right idea for building the product management MVP. Building MVPs doesn't take much investment, but building an elaborate one does.

Zeda.io facilitates that by allowing you to create user flows in the platform itself. This enables you to get the feedback of internal teams and external stakeholders.

Userflow feature

The user flows contain details that assist the SaaS product management team to set definite goals, remove roadblocks, and identify new opportunities while building the MVP.

But how many details are necessary?

4. Outline the scope of the MVP and prototype

The prototype represents your idea. It can be something as simple as a sketch or wireframe (as we mentioned earlier). The MVP is the earliest version of your product that delivers value.

The scope refers to the depth of details in terms of development, business value, and customer satisfaction. It defines your MVP’s meaning in product management in that sprint.

As you move forward with each step in this list, the depth of details for each idea and prototype will increase. For instance, if you encounter a difficult challenge while examining user flows, you need to take a step back and go to the bucket of ideas.

This back-and-forth might continue a few times until you identify the measurable (or estimable) parameters to pass an idea. Some of those parameters include:

  1. Hours of development work required
  2. New tools or workflows to be used
  3. Estimated revenue per user from this product/feature
  4. Marketing and sales cost

Another important thing to keep in mind are that the scope should be communicated appropriately. For instance, the details required by external stakeholders to approve an idea for the product management MVP are different compared to the product team members.

This is where a theme-based roadmap can be handy. Themes are high-level goals that a product has which contain epics and stories underneath it.

Theme based roadmap
(source)

You can build theme-based roadmaps with Zeda.io easily and share them with all the collaborators to get their feedback.

The roadmap lays the plan for the development of the MVP in product management. 

5. Launch the MVP and measure its impact

This is the most important step in building and managing the MVP product management. As we have mentioned a few times earlier, the role of MVP in product management is to teach the team about the needs and expectations of the target audience while comparing it to the existing solutions in the market.

The biggest reason why startups fail is that their product lacks a target audience. CB Insights analyzed 111 failed startups since 2018 and concluded that the top three reasons for failure are lack of capital, no market need, and strong competition.

Top reason startups fail

MVP product management minimizes risks by giving you data and feedback that helps you determine whether building a product will be a good business decision. Depending on your product and industry, you can monitor the following parameters to measure the impact of your MVP:

Building MVP

Summing up

During product management, MVPs provide crucial data-backed insights to the product team that determines the direction of development. MVPs are also a great tool to identify new opportunities, validate hypotheses, and minimize risks.

You can build an MVP by following the five steps below:

  1. Ensure the need for the product through market research, audience surveys, and interviews.
  2. Generate ideas and soft-test them through wireframes for features and products which will give your audience the value they are looking for.
  3. Map the user journey for each of those ideas to find new opportunities or identify potential roadblocks during product development.
  4. Define the scope of the MVP by finalizing your expectations in terms of learning and insights from the MVP.
  5. Release the MVP and monitor its reception closely to extract actionable insights to determine your next steps.

MVP product management is quite similar to building the product itself as MVP is a lean version of the product with limited scope and objectives. You and your team need the necessary tools that will help you do everything with ease while developing an MVP: communicating effectively, collecting feedback, building wireframes and user flows, creating the roadmap, and more.

That’s where Zeda.io comes in.

Zeda.io is a super app for product teams that provides all the tools and functionalities necessary for building an MVP and measuring its progress. With 5000+ integrations, you can get started in no time.

Start your free trial today.

FAQs

  1. What is MVP in product management?

Minimum viable product (MVP) in product management is the earliest version of the product which is used for learning more about the customer’s needs to plan the next steps of development.

  1. What does MVP mean in business?

An MVP in business is a released product that attracts early adopters and validates ideas for further development of the product.

  1. What are the 3 elements of MVP?

The three elements of MVP are — the inclusion of the essence of the product (or idea), low investment, and must be iterable.

  1. How do I build MVP for product management?

You can build an MVP for product management by following five quick steps: establish the need, generate ideas, map out user flow, define the scope, and measure the impact for further iterations.

  1. What is MVP meaning product management?

MVP is the first iteration of the product that is developed through the product management process. It makes the whole process leaner while maximizing learning.

Jacob Koshy
Product Marketer at Zeda.io
A marketer in love with SaaS products. When away from work, I'm either spending time with my cats or adding miles on my motorcycle.
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