Idea to MVP in Weeks – Key Facts
The pace of both change and innovation is increasing all the time. Customers have insatiable appetites, and high expectations, for the next new thing. Despite widespread adoption of agile and more customer focused approaches to software development, mobile app development still takes anything between 4 and 12 months. The availability of Low Code platforms, and their use to build MVPs, could radically reduce that.
TIME WE DON’T HAVE
Executives and founders, especially those without a techie background, struggle to engage and work efficiently with software agencies and developers. Researching, shortlisting and selecting the right techie or team can easily take 6 to 8 weeks. The process of discovery – reviewing, communicating and documenting requirements – in a format that techies understand and can work with – typically adds another 3 to 4 weeks. It could easily take 3 months before the first line of code is written. Startups – especially those who are new to software development – routinely take 3 to 6 months.
Of course, there is no guarantee that a product idea will find a receptive market and a very high likelihood that requirements will change. There is also a risk that the business will pivot or even fail. This process normally plays out across many months of trial and error. Businesses don’t have the luxury of time and most don’t have the funding required to fuel 3 months of development work. Most cannot afford another 6 to 12 months chasing the so-called “product market fit”.
ULTRA MVP AND BEYOND
There is a better way. Build an Ultra MVP (UMVP) in the time it would normally take to undertake the discovery process. First, define what you mean by MVP. Consider your business objectives, timing to launch and budget. Focus on the smallest usable subset of your product and the features that define its uniqueness. If your MVP is to attract investment, find out the most likely requirements. More importantly, set and stick to both a time limit and product scope. Ruthlessly guard against scope creep by only adding new “critically essential” items after first removing an equivalent sized item.
Then, use a Low Code platform and replace the discovery process with a 4 to 5 day design sprint that culminates in the production of a low fidelity prototype. Use the Low Code platform and traditional coding to build your UMVP in weeks. Launch your UMVP and continue development, beyond MVP stage, if required and feasible. Depending on your product requirements, you could achieve your goals in weeks and you would certainly avoid launching a fully fledged MVP that customers don’t want.
THE WAY FORWARD
Low Code platforms such as Adole, Bubble, Glide, Fliplet, Stacker and Thunkable might be a starting point. However, each has built-in limitations and therefore, the platform choice is best decided by a technical expert who understands your business objectives and product requirements. Also, in most cases, you will still need a developer to customise the final product to your specific requirements.
Gartner, predicts that 65% of mobile app development will be undertaken on low code or similar platforms by 2024. The payoff from this Low Code platform approach could be significant – instead of a full stack team of multiple experts and a budget to suit, a Low Code platform may require fewer experts, a significantly lower budget and significantly less time to do substantially the same work. This is not just about Low Code – you should also consider any platform or method that allows you to quickly validate your product.
Facebook’s MVP simply allowed students to post messages to their boards. Groupon launched on WordPress and emailed PDFs to subscribers. Airbnb started with a property in one location and a test to see if short term rental would work. Amazon started with books, sold at a low price via a simple web page. Uber started in one city and targeted iphone users only. You get the point.