MVP – When is good, good enough?
In our previous article, we explored the topic of a minimum viable product (MVP), the term MVP itself in digital healthcare, and what it takes to create one. We reflected the unique needs of regulated markets such as digital health. This post will look at how much is needed to achieve an MVP and when it may be too much.
Creating an MVP can help kickstart the product and get the funding needed for to develop a full product. However, it is vital to ensure that it is the best option for the project.
Finding the fine line between the product's initial users' value and no value
Before deciding if an MVP is best for our product, we need to understand the difference between the initial value and lack thereof, so it is essential to scope a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) correctly. There are multiple ways to do so. However, we can outline the key points to help determine the project's needs and the MVP concept.
Define the business ideas and goals
The initial focus should not include features, as they set the focus towards outcome. Instead of features, initially, you need to concentrate on the outcome and the expected business impact resulting from the creation. Some of the most common business goals may include:
- Get VC/Angel funding
- Validate the product-market fit
- Land very first customers
- Act on feedback to increase customer retention
- Product scaling
Setting up specific goals may aid in determining the restriction that may limit our Minimum Viable Product (MVP). For example, if the primary goal is to test our business idea and product for the market fit, the most optimal MVP approach would involve demoing the main and basic features that people would pay for while ignoring the less relevant ones at the current stage.
As important as setting goals is establishing how you will measure if you've reached them. Without well-defined measures of success, you and your team will have trouble understanding if you're on track and when (and by how much) to change course.
Research and validate your users' needs and goals
For your solution to get traction, even in the MVP, it has to solve a problem for its users and provide them value. Do some research to understand their needs, alternatives they have used so far, and what problems they face. At this stage, it's key to have actual conversations with real people, not just rely on the information from reports you find online.
Write out the key assumptions you are making about their needs, characteristics, the context of use, goals and tasks. Think about which assumptions are critical to be true for your business goals to be achievable. Verify them by talking to your users, reading their questions and discussions online, and talking to people who tried similar approaches in the past.
Here Reddit, Facebook groups, Amazon product comments, App Store reviews and similar fora can also be a goldmine. At the end, you should have a list of your users' top tasks and be able to empathise with their needs.
Work from business and user goals to establish feature scope
Establishing business goals and users' needs first will help extract the critical components to achieving them. However, it is essential to remember that instead of writing the perfect MVP draft from the start, it's easier to take small steps to achieve it and then adjust when it is needed. It's enough to start with a messy draft and refine it. Scoping is no rush for perfection, and it's worth dedicating as much time as necessary.
Create the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) draft and test business hypotheses
After creating a solid MVP draft, it is essential to reduce the scope iteratively. It's good to analyse each use case and ask relevant questions for each step:
- Is the current step necessary to proceed?
- If it is, why?
- Can the goal in this step be achieved in a more straightforward, more automated way?
- How would removing this step impact the user experience?
- Can this step be split into several smaller ones?
- What would be the users' expectations for this step?
Analysing each use case enables us to determine the proper flexibility range for further progression.
Less is more, be minimal and get the maximum validated learning
More features in the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) involve greater complexity. Technically, the more features are included in an MVP, the greater scope of validated learning we can achieve. However, it also has some disadvantages.
A more complex product can increase potential errors and bugs, which may put the users off. That’s why finding the right balance between the maximum amount, the least amount of effort, and the least number of features necessary to showcase the minimum marketable product is vital.
The challenges of creating Minimum Viable Products in digital healthcare
Remote health-controlling technology is an essential part of healthcare, as it has been proved during the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market needs innovation and digital solutions. However, it also brings unique challenges.
As we mentioned in our previous post, compliance is one of those challenges. As the healthcare industry is dealing with the processing and storing of sensitive data, it needs to meet a set of requirements for compliance. It also needs to be considered while developing a Minimum Viable Product.
Digital transformation and progress
Innovation can be another challenge when developing an MVP for a healthcare product. Not only do you need to address multiple issues in advance to ensure that the product will stay up to date and can keep up with the progress.
An additional challenge in this aspect is the willingness of end users and doctors to adapt to the digital transformation and embrace the new product. Finding an optimal way to deal with potential resistance is essential to focus on to take the best MVP approach and the road to the final product.
The benefits of developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in digital healthcare
Accessibility of care
One of the critical benefits of releasing new digital products to the healthcare market is to ensure that care and health monitoring are accessible to everyone at all times. This can help professionals worldwide to provide better care without geographical boundaries.
Without the need to conduct frequent in-person appointments, it can help reduce commuting costs and appointments themselves. Thus, it leaves more room and resources for pressing matters and urgent issues.
Easy and direct communication
Some applications can be ideal for helping answer urgent questions or book an appointment online when necessary. This can help save time and help define what can qualify as an issue needing a face-to-face consultation or if the question has a simple answer that can advise customers in their particular situation.
The use of lean startup methodology
Once we develop an MVP, the team can adopt the lean startup approach to carefully test the customers' and users' reactions to it. The developers then can analyse this feedback to assess if they should pursue the idea further or pivot from it, thus saving the team from unnecessary work on something that just doesn't deliver the desired results.
Establish releasing a Minimum Viable Product with caution, as it's usually only one shot to reach out to and please the target users
Now that we know the challenges and advantages of creating an MVP in MedTech let's go back to the question in the title: When is an MVP enough? To answer this question, we need to establish the business model and product hypothesis and identify how much we can achieve with the first version.
Another important aspect of this decision is how much useful feedback can be gathered (and how to use it for the brand) and what value proposition a Minimum Viable Product would bring for the customers and potential investors.
To determine if a project or idea can be encased in a Minimum Viable Product, a few questions might need to be answered:
- What is the business model to work on?
- Would the product be safe if just enough features are implemented to guarantee basic functionality? Can it be used by the customer alone, or does it need professional expertise or a clinical environment?
- What can be gained from the feedback given by the users and early adopters?
- Will the least effort be enough to develop a quality MVP without wasting too much money and other resources?
- How could this development technique contribute to the eventual release of the final product?
- What marketing value would developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) bring to the product and its deployment?
Once these questions can be answered, it will be clear if a Minimum Viable Product is something to consider or if a different development technique should be pursued.
An important thing to keep in mind is that MVP gives the new product a shot at getting some early traction. However, it is usually only one shot. Customers won't be eager to go back to something that initially failed them.
Finding the proper development process
After carefully analysing the needs of the product, customers and the requirements the application might need to comply with, the correct development method can be chosen. Before deciding to go for MVP, it needs to be ensured that this is the best solution for the users, as their safety and well-being are the most important factors to consider when developing a product.
Once it is established that the product can deliver value to the company without investing too much money and resources, it can be ideal for a company or startup to release an MVP before the complete product. However, given the fragile nature of MVP and the experience it gives to the public, it's a decision that must be made with caution.
If you need advice about developing your product, don't hesitate to reach out to us!