June 30, 2022

What Comes After Minimum Viable Product?

Congratulations! You have a winner on your hands—or at least the data you’re getting from your minimum viable product development process says your plan is viable. So what happens next?

Your minimum viable product (MVP) is the minimum test of your hypothesis to ensure that there’s a market for your big idea, but not the final product itself. By now, it should be clear that in undertaking the MVP process, you’ve embarked on a learning adventure that prioritizes incremental iteration and action to minimize time to value. The MVP process is a critical aspect of The Product Mindset, which allows you to solve specific problems while gaining the ability to react to marketplace changes.

By testing your MVP, you’re confirming that your product brings value to your audience. Simultaneously, you’re determining that your digital product idea is cost-effective and marketable. After all, the last thing you want is to invest a ton of money into a full-fledged product only for it to fail. Instead, by validating your idea as an MVP, you ensure that only the best products go into development.

So what comes after the minimum viable product stage? The truth is that your product journey is at the beginning phases. We’re diving deeper into the product journey so that you understand the next steps after MVP.

MVP is a Process

The very first thing you need to understand is that, like any other digital product, MVP is not one and done. It’s a process. Perhaps more accurately, it’s the starting point for the product development process. What comes after your minimum viable product is reviewing your findings from the MVP process.

As part of the MVP process, you received invaluable feedback. Before proceeding, evaluate your findings and determine if you need to explore anything further. Ask yourself if any assumptions, findings, or ideas bear further testing and evaluation.

If you find that you still need more data, revisit your initial MVP process phases to test any additional hypotheses. On the other hand, if all the information points to moving forward, what comes after reviewing your minimum viable product findings is a roadmap review.

Reviewing your roadmap from the MVP process in light of the data you received may mean making some changes to your development process. Ultimately, this means breaking down development steps into smaller attainable goals to ensure product rollouts are functional, efficient, and effective.

If that definition sounds familiar, it’s similar to the process for the Agile methodology, which 3Pillar Global uses to create a best-of-breed product. MVP—and to that end, product development—is a similar process in that the product is never completely done.

By identifying small benchmarks that you can more easily—and successfully—achieve, you’re able to maximize each release. By ensuring that all new functions work well together, you minimize bugs and the need for rapid deployment of fixes and patches. However, following the MVP and Agile processes ensures that your team is able to quickly shift and deploy an update should the need arise. Suffice it to say, smaller rollouts and regular iterations, updates, and patches, allow for the fastest time to value.

The MVP is a Critical Step You Can’t Skip

The truth is you can’t go straight from idea to full-fledged product. You have to follow the MVP process from start to finish to ensure your product is viable and has a market before investing time, money, and effort into developing it.

According to Smashing Magazine, “The point isn’t to create leaner products. It’s to get the most basic version or concept of an app into the hands of adopters and evangelists.”

By gathering data and feedback from people who would be superfans, you can iterate the product to be more meaningful. Factoring in feedback from your evangelists ensures a better experience as well as the best possible future iterations of your product.

Following the MVP process and next steps ensures you avoid the biggest—and most costly—pitfalls of product development. As a result, you’re primed to follow best practices for creating a digital product. So what are those best practices?

Get early adopters on board in the beginning stages of your MVP development.

It’s worth noting that what comes after your minimum viable product is not finding early adopters. The truth is that because early adopters are integral to the MVP process, they should be identified early on. Still, if you find yourself inheriting a project with insufficient early adopters, it is possible to find and add them later in the game.

Developing a prototype before going all-in on the features.

In the product development industry, there’s much confusion regarding prototypes vs. MVPs, and for good reason. There are a lot of similarities. At 3Pillar Global, we define a prototype as an inexpensive, nonfunctional version of your product. On the other hand, your MVP is the first release of your product based on the simplest possible functionality.

By creating a prototype first, and then an MVP that focuses on the core features, you can validate your market before creating a complex product. That brings us to the next best practice.

While the industry frequently refers to DropBox as an example of an MVP that was effective in proving the concept, the truth is that because it could not be monetized as a video, it more closely resembles a prototype than an MVP.

Dollar Shave Club was also a video. However, because it had a call to action and drove a transaction, therefore monetizing the video, it truly was an MVP.

To further illustrate the point, Uber’s MVP started as an app only available to the founders and their friends. After a simple tweet by Travis Kalanick, the company hit the market big time.

Start as small as possible with minimal features.

According to Entrepreneur,“​​The truth is that more features usually make a product less usable, not more.” While you can always add more features and complexities down the road, starting small ensures that they work well. Facebook wasn’t always a complex behemoth of a digital product. It started as a simple directory to help people from different colleges stay connected.

Create a product that actually has a market.

It’s one thing to have an idea for a product. It’s entirely different to be confident that you have an audience of superfans eager to buy your product. You are automatically biased. That’s why we focus so much on getting early adopters on board from the very beginning. In order to ensure that what comes after your minimum viable product is actually developing and selling the product, you have to prove that users are interested in your solution and willing to pay for it.

Minimize your marketing investment until you have a viable product.

It’s not a good idea to go all-in on marketing your product until you’ve been through the MVP process. Why? Marketing costs money, and you don’t want to dump a higher investment into the product until you have data showing your MVP is delivering value. It isn’t to say that you won’t have to involve marketing at all. You will need some marketing messaging around your product to ensure you’re communicating details about your MVP to get your early adopters on board.

Gather valuable customer feedback every step of the way.

Qualitative and quantitative data both have a valuable place in the MVP process. In fact, they work together to tell the story of what people think about your product. Every touchpoint provides an opportunity to ultimately optimize your product and customer experience. To that end, getting real-time customer feedback gives you valuable insights into what they find valuable—and what they don’t. In turn, if you find that your MVP bears further iteration and development, that feedback can inform what comes after the minimum viable product stage.

The Next Step After MVP

By now, it should be clear that what comes after your minimum viable product depends entirely on what you learned from the MVP process and your future product development goals.

First, let’s explore additional terminology. According to Scott Ambler, Vice President and Chief Scientist at PMI, “it’s common for people to say MVP when they are actually talking about a minimal marketable feature (MMF), a minimal marketable product (MMP), or even a minimal marketable release (MMR). As you can see, these terms are very similar to one another, so we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a bit of confusion around them.”

Let’s dive into what these concepts mean in terms of developing your product and determining what comes after creating your minimum viable product.

  • Minimum Marketable Product (MMP): Is your MVP, the minimum functional version of your product also marketable? Even though market analysis is integral to your MVP process, your early adopter feedback may indicate that you need some additional components to package your MVP into a marketable solution.
  • Minimum Marketable Features (MMF): Your MVP should be as simple as possible. However, does it have the minimum marketable features? Or are there any components you can strip out to simplify it further? Conversely, do you need to augment any features to make your product marketable? Once again, your early adopter feedback will guide you here.
  • Minimum Marketable Release (MMR): Before you launch, it’s critical to understand that the product or update you’re releasing can stand on its own in the marketplace.
  • Minimum Loveable Product (MLP): While solving a problem is your main MVP goal, you also want to create a strong user and customer experience in line with your brand promise. This is more important for established brands than for startups. However, you’ll want to ensure that your MVP aligns with your existing brand.

It’s wise to consider these terms as additional lenses for deciding if your MVP is ready for a broader market. If your product checks all boxes, you’re ready to undertake the next steps for your MVP. If not, it’s worth reviewing whether or not you need further iteration and testing to bring it to investors or the marketplace.

Launching Your Product

Whether you’re ready to move forward with launching your product, here’s what truly comes after the minimum viable product stage.

Depending on your early adopters and how your MVP fits within your current suite of offerings, you may not need to create a fake brand like Zappos. In fact, because MVP is more prevalent today, many of your users will expect incremental rollouts. Either way, you’ll want to update your product roadmap based on feedback and data.

Start Small

First, focus on releasing your product to your existing audience. There’s a caveat here. Depending on the product, you may also be able to release it to a larger market as well. DZone reports that after launching the first iPhone in 2007, Apple was able to expand its capabilities almost immediately based on user feedback. We see this trend continuing with every new release.

Continue gathering feedback and iterating.

Taking on a product mindset means understanding that there’s always room for improvement. As you iterate, be sure to use feedback from your early market adopters as your North Star for your roadmap. Instead of trying to tackle a wide range of potential solutions, stick to where you know there is revenue, relevance, and the intersection of both. When you focus on solving specific problems or adding features with each release, you can continually grow your customer base while improving your product.

Create powerful marketing for every future release.

Details vary widely based on your product, your company, and your audience. Ultimately, your messaging should focus on what your audience needs to know about each release to set expectations and show them what they can do as a result.

Your Product is Never “Done”

The biggest takeaway from any exploration of what comes after the minimum viable product stage is that digital product development is an ongoing, iterative process. Unless you decide to scrap your project because your MVP isn’t viable, doesn’t have a market, or isn’t cost-effective, plan to keep iterating and improving. Because the most successful products are rooted in Agile methodology, you can continue finding new benchmarks to improve the customer experience and solve problems.

Henry Martinez, Senior Director, Data Science at 3Pillar Global, adds, “In the spirit of Andrew Grove’s, Only The Paranoid Survive, also keep an eye out for competitive market disruptors and be ready to pivot, if necessary. It is a sure bet that your competitors are watching you too!”

The marketplace is always changing, which means that there are always new opportunities to delight your audience without biting off more than you can chew at any stage of the game.

Ready to test your big idea? 3Pillar Global would love to help you develop a minimum viable product and everything that comes after, from iteration to product launch. Contact us today to get started!

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.