March 12, 2024

Agile Methodology for MVP Development

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Technology

Agile Methodology for MVP Development
March 12, 2024

Agile Methodology for MVP Development

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Technology

Agile Methodology for MVP Development

In today's vast diversity of approaches to software development, Agile methodology takes the lead for its undoubtful flexibility and continuous improvement, becoming an excellent choice for MVP development. Let's find out what a minimum viable product in Agile is and what the benefits of this beautiful tandem are.

What is Agile in software development?

Agile is an array of software development principles and practices emphasizing iterative development, continuous feedback, and customer collaboration. It is a software development methodology that came as an alternative to linear approaches, in which each step in the development process must be consequent and well-planned. The critical points of Agile are flexibility, dynamic nature, absence of unnecessary restrictions and paperwork. The methodology slices the development process into time-limited iterations, each with its result, and allows one to quickly adapt to changing requirements and promptly react to the feedback.

The research shows that in 2022, 37% of responders stated using the Agile/Scrum method for software development, making it the second most popular option after DevOps/DevSecOps.

Software development methodologies: DevOps/DecSecOps - 47%, Agile/Scrum - 37%, Kanban - 34% Waterfall - 28%, Water/Scrum/Fall - 28%, Lean - 29%
Software Development Methodologies Practiced Worldwide in 2022. Source

Agile MVP combines the best of both concepts: minimum viable product and Agile software development methodology. Developing MVP using Agile methodology reduces the risk of product failure, enables shifting priorities during the process, and lowers unpredictability.

Further, we will broaden the idea of MVP in Agile methodology, starting with the distinction of Agile and its project management frameworks in the vast software development field. Let's discover the facts together!

Agile vs. Waterfall

The difference in Agile and Waterfall approaches: Agile iterative development vs Waterfall, where each development step goes one after another.

Besides Agile, there are many other approaches to product development, and Waterfall is one of the most famous.

The Waterfall methodology is a classic approach to project management, often used in software development but applicable to various fields. It is linear, i.e., each development stage goes one after another and requires thorough planning, precise requirements, and a clear-cut budget. It suits government projects and traditional industries, boasting of being predictable, organized, and stable.

The invention of Agile methodology has overthrown Waterfall principles and offered a bright alternative to project management. Agile brought more flexibility, communication, and quality in the industry, becoming one of the most popular approaches in the world.

The Waterfall methodology is a well-established framework for structured project management, but its suitability depends on the specific project and its needs. Agile is valued for its adaptability and faster time to market. 

When discussing MVP, the Waterfall approach is hardly suitable for MVP development, as it generally aims to deliver a complete product to the customer. At the same time, Agile welcomes minimum viable product development. 

Scrum vs. Kanban

Scrum and Kanban are popular Agile frameworks. Their choice will have a direct effect on the product to be released.

Kanban is a visual workflow management system that uses boards and cards to track work progress. It is flexible and emphasizes quality assurance. Nevertheless, the development process can be long and overcomplicated.

Scum uses iterations to deliver complex projects fast. It is plannable, structured, and measurable. Unfortunately, it has less quality control and works well only with people committed to the collaboration.

You can choose both Agile methodologies for different MVP development stages, for example, Scrum for the beginning of the project and Kanban in later stages.

Agile best practices for MVP development

Implementing Agile involves more than just adopting a specific framework. To truly get the most out of Agile, there are some best practices to keep in mind that apply to various frameworks. Let's come to the roots and see where these practices derive from.

The core principles of Agile methodology lay in the Agile Manifesto, putting forward four key ideas: “individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and responding to change over following a plan.”

The core Agile MVP meaning lies in the lines:

A citation from Agile Manifesto stating the main features of this methodology.

The main reasons for Agile implementation within a team or organization include better ability to face changing priorities (64%), acceleration of software delivery (64%), and enhanced team productivity (47%). Additionally, 35% of the research respondents mentioned improved team morale, while 24% emphasized engineering discipline improvement. Thus, developing a minimum viable product in Agile encompasses much more than meets the eye. 

Agile best practices include:

  • Empowerment and collaboration — enable teams to make decisions, set goals, and manage their work. Encourage frequent communication inside the team and with the stakeholders. Foster collaboration between the departments;
  • Adaptability and continuous improvement — be open to adapting to changing requirements. Use retrospectives to identify problem areas. Use metrics to track teams' progress;
  • Iterative and incremental development — break down the whole scope of work into sprints. Prioritize working product over exhaustive documentation;
  • User involvement — regularly gather and analyze feedback from stakeholders and customers (if MVP has already been released).

Integrate these best practices, and you can create a thriving Agile environment that promotes high-quality software delivery. Adapt and tailor Agile practices to fit your specific project and team needs.

Benefits of MVP in Agile

MVP in Agile is a strategic tool that helps developers make informed decisions over further product development. Combining Agile's iterative and adaptable nature with the lean approach of an MVP unlocks a robust set of benefits.

  • Faster time to market: MVP in Agile methodology means a fast development process. The minimum viable product must have only essential features to be released, so it takes less time to develop compared with the finalized product;
  • Ability to optimize development process: Agile enables the developers to adapt to the shifting requirements and scale up the team if necessary;
  • Development process visibility: thanks to frequent and transparent communication between the departments, teams, and stakeholders, there is no room left for vagueness;
  • Attraction of investors: as Agile methodology enables you to have some tangible results early on, and MVP is not a full-scaled product, you can attract investments by minimum work done;
  • Reduced costs: MVP development in Agile saves time and money, allowing you to test your business idea from the early development stage and determine whether the idea is viable. Moreover, you can shift MVP features and design, leaning on user feedback during the development process;
  • Risk mitigation: MVP in Agile allows teams to test ideas in the early development process and experiment with different pricing or monetization models;
  • User-centric design: the product is built based on the customer's feedback, i.e., it is the user who influences design, flow, and the addition of features from the early development stages.

Overall, Agile MVPs are a powerful combination for startups and established businesses. They drive down costs, accelerate development, and enhance product quality by iterating based on real-world user feedback. An MVP isn't about launching a bare-bones product but about testing your core assumptions and building a foundation for a successful and user-centric product.

What makes a good MVP?

In Agile project management, a good MVP strikes a delicate balance between several vital characteristics.

A good MVP should solve a core user problem and provide early user validation. It should concentrate on the customers and business needs of product owners, be flexible, and adapt the MVP based on user feedback and information about the market. The MVP in Agile should be built on a solid foundation, meaning it can be easily extended and scaled in future iterations.

Agile features include:

  1. Iterative development: MVP is not a finished product but a starting point for continuous improvement based on user feedback and data. Each sprint may bring new insights and alternate MVP building.
  2. Small and incremental releases: focus on delivering core features quickly and often, allowing for rapid adaptation and learning.

The features and functionality depend on your unique product, target audience, and business goals. 

Building MVP using Agile

Building MVP in Agile steps: define the problem, look at the competitors, identify MVP features, build-measure-learn, iterate or pivot.

Developing a minimum viable product in Agile is an encouraging process. Let's explore each step of this journey and plan MVP building together.

Define the problem

The process of MVP Agile development starts with defining the problem. To identify the users' main pain points, you can do the following:

  • Conduct thorough user research to uncover the specific issues; 
  • Launch interviews and surveys to determine customers' frustrations and needs; 
  • Articulate the problem in a clear, concise sentence that captures the user's pain point;
  • Frame it in a way that highlights the potential impact of solving it;
  • Brainstorm the most minor features that could address the core problem and deliver user value.

The other good idea is to use objectives and key results methodology (OKR) — a goal-setting framework that helps individuals and organizations define measurable goals and track their outcomes. It's famous for its simplicity, flexibility, and ability to align teams around a shared vision. The main outtakes of the methodology are:

  1. Objectives should be qualitative, ambitious, and inspirational and reflect your goals. They should be clear and concise and motivate those working towards them. 
  2. Key results should be quantitative and measurable. They define how progress towards the objective will be measured and how it should be specific, challenging, and time-bound.

The first step builds the foundation for the MVP project in Agile methodology, meaning a lot of dedication and responsibility should be applied at this step. But the idea is not enough — whether it is original and viable remains to be seen.

Look at the competitors

Before developing your product, make sure your business idea is unique and there is no alternative to your solution on the market.

  • Check out whether your MVP idea offers unique features to the customers and solves their problems in a brand-new way.
  • Use special analytical tools to investigate the competitors. Launch market analysis to discover critical players in the market, the main products of the opponents, and analytics about weekly revenue metrics.
  • Learn from competitors' mistakes and take good ideas from them. Read success and failure stories, refine and improve existing features, and keep an eye on the leaders in the field. Get best practices from all available sources.

The bottom line is that you should know your market and your competitors well to introduce desirable products. Good preparation always pays off!

Identify MVP features

To identify the features of your future Agile MVP project, you should define the problems customers currently face, determine whether it is essential to solve them and find the ways how you can do it with your software.

Here are several tips on how to specify MVP features in Agile:

  • Identify the most pressing pain points that your product can address;
  • Engage with potential users through surveys, interviews, or focus groups;
  • Gather insights into their desired features and expectations;
  • Include only the essential features that enable core functionality and value delivery.

After defining the problem and the features of the future solution, there is time for thorough planning: developing a product roadmap, defining user stories, and identifying user flows. Discover your product's requirements and provide solutions to users' problems. Maintain customer feedback channels through various MVP testing methods and keep the developers informed.

Remember that your MVP must solve at least one customer's problem. Do not overcomplicate the solution. Keep it simple and smooth.

Use Build-Measure-Learn approach

With the Scrum framework applied, here begins iterative development. It encapsulates dividing the development process into sprints — separate, self-sufficient parts with tangible results. In Agile MVP building, self-organizing teams plan sprints, create a sprint backlog and communicate daily.

The build-measure-learn process helps to regulate the trajectory of project development. Close collaboration between teams, stakeholders, and users allows the MVP project to be changed at any time to bring better results. You build a feature, test it, receive feedback, and implement changes to the next iteration referring to the acquired knowledge.

Continue building or pivot

There will be some point in development when MVP has already given you enough information about the customers' expectations and needs. It is time to make the critical decision: do we continue to develop the product, are we changing something and trying again, or will we give up on that MVP, as it proved to be in no demand?

Ask users what they want. Create an MVP in Agile way to benefit customers' lives. Ask for the feedback and analyze it. Remember that building an MVP isn't a coding quest; it's a search for validation. We're not crafting software for the sake of it but shaping a product users can adore.

How to build an Agile team for MVP development

Agile Scrum Team Structure with the Business Owner and stakeholders at the highest level, the Scrum Master and product Owner at the middle level, and the Scrum team at the lowest level.

Building an effective MVP Agile team requires careful consideration of people and processes but brings generous benefits — the research shows that Agile teams are 25% more productive than their industry colleagues. 

Here's a breakdown of critical aspects to focus on while building the team:

Team composition

  • Cross-functional: choose members with diverse skill sets across development, design, product management, and marketing. It fosters collaboration and ensures all perspectives are considered;
  • Small and lean: keep the team size minimum to maintain agility and avoid communication overhead. 5-7 people is a good starting point;
  • Passionate and adaptable: look for individuals who are enthusiastic about the project and comfortable working in a dynamic environment with frequent changes.

It will be a good idea to ensure that team members have previously worked together. In this case, they can perform and deliver earlier. Additionally, pay attention to the participants' favorable combination of soft and hard skills, experience, and the ability to work independently.

The prominent roles inside the team

  • Product owner: defines product vision, prioritizes features, and manages user feedback;
  • Scrum master: facilitates agile ceremonies and ensures smooth process flow;
  • Development team: responsible for building the MVP, conducting tests, and deploying iterations;
  • Designer: ensures user-friendly interface and experience, prioritizing core functionalities.

The team's composition can vary depending on the complexity and goals of the project. 

What is the wisdom of building MVP in Agile? Use short, iterative development cycles (typically 2-4 weeks) to deliver small, functional increments of the MVP. Keep everyone informed and aligned by sharing progress and roadblocks daily. Regularly reflect on successes and failures to identify improvement areas and adapt the process. Integrate mechanisms to gather user feedback after each sprint and incorporate it into the next iteration.

Concentrating on these points, you can build a high-performing MVP Agile team for your minimum viable product development that delivers a successful product quickly and efficiently. Adaptability and continuous learning are crucial in Agile development, so be prepared to adjust your approach and processes as you gather data and feedback.

Going beyond MVP: Minimum Lovable Product and Minimum Marketable Product development

Comparison chart for MVP, MMP and MLP, emphasizing their  imilarities and differences.

Besides MVP Agile development, you have probably heard about Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) and Minimum Marketable Product (MMP). Let's figure out the difference between these approaches to launching the product.

MVP seeks customer validation, includes only necessary features, and puts strong emphasis on functionality. The goal is to gather the feedback from the customer and determine whether the users desire the product.

MLP aims to become a love at first-sight for the customers, build positive user sentiment, drive engagement, and foster brand loyalty. It emphasizes user experience (UX) and design, prioritizing features that delight and surprise users.

MMP tends to achieve product-market fit, attract paying customers, and start generating revenue. It includes essential features and functionalities that fulfill user needs and provide value, catering to core user personas.

Overall, the form of product launch depends entirely on your strategy and what you want to test in the product. Nothing stops you from combining the features of the above-mentioned approaches and making something unique and desired.

Conclusion

MVP development in Agile project management methodology can bring a lot to the table: better time to market, increased quality, flexibility, and risk mitigation. All were reached through fruitful collaboration and communication between the teams and departments and swift adaptation to the changing environment.

Have a project in mind? NEKLO is ready to help you with custom software development. Our skilled Agile teams will be happy to help you with the application of any complexity and scale.