Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Meaning in Agile

Article by:
Maria Arinkina
9 min
Learn about the power of combining MVP and agile in product development. Discover how building a minimum viable product (MVP) in an agile manner can help you test hypotheses, satisfy early adopters, and reduce risks. Keep reading to find the meaning of MVP in agile and the benefits it brings to startups and established businesses.

Coming up with a product and building it might sound simple. But if you think about it, the scale of the project and how it'll be developed may vary greatly. Both "MVP" and "agile" have somewhat become buzzwords, but what do the two mean in a combo?

On this page, we'll provide a detailed examination of an MVP in agile, explaining the MVP meaning in agile, the pillars of the methodology, and the benefits of this product development approach for startups and established businesses.

What Is MVP in Agile?

Let's start by answering a simple question: "What is an MVP?". According to the classic MVP definition, a minimum viable product is a pilot or shrunken version of a product that's built gradually for testing hypotheses and molding the full version bit by bit to better suit user needs. Unlike large-scale products that are completely developed from A to Z before being shown to clients, with MVPs, users get hold of the product's early version much faster.

Don't think of an MVP as something half-built, though. It's not a prototype, as a minimum viable product is generally an early version of a product that's only fitted with a basic or core feature set, yet it's a functioning product with a decent user experience that's just enough to solve a user pain point or problem and satisfy early adopters. Although there are many types of MVPs, they concentrate on solving a specific problem and are adaptable, flexible, and designed to be shaped around customer expectations.

Agile is a software development methodology or a way to bring a product to life in terms of the development process. It's often based on scrum, highlighting quick sprint-based development, continuous improvement, and constant collaboration between multiple parties. Each sprint is devoted to a specific objective and typically lasts from one to four weeks. At the end of each one, the results are reviewed and analyzed, and the priorities get re-evaluated.

The thing is that you can develop software and organize the project execution process in many ways. However, there are many MVP benefits, as this approach revolves around flexibility and reduces many risks, including lost investment on a full-feature product that'll take a lot of time and money to create but might not succeed. Bottom line: agile is iterative, fast-paced, and a good match for projects with many unknowns.

What is a minimum viable product in agile?

So, what is minimum viable product in agile? Hence, building an MVP can be considered one of the fundamentals of agile software development. It is a key component of the agile process because it lets teams create high-quality solutions, test product viability without delay, and get valuable feedback, which can be applied to validate and refine ideas and build the product step-by-step. You start small and work your way up little by little as you form the product according to your learnings and findings and, at the same time, you don't risk spending a fortune on something useless.

Both parts, the MVP (the version of the product) and agile (the way product development is approached), are two pieces of a client-oriented puzzle that works well for startups or companies that want to test the waters with a new product with low risk.

Agile Best Practices

What are the main features and best practices of the agile development model? Upsilon has been developing MVP products using agile for over five years, so we've highlighted the major agile best practices that can be applied for MVP development based on our experience. Let's overview the most important ones.

The best practices of the agile development

Iterative Development

What is the agile methodology based on? Put simply, iterative development that's broken down into sprints lies at the core of agile.

To explain the concept with an analogy, let's pretend your product is a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. Because this is a new location for you, and the conditions might change very quickly, you have to be open to making plan shifts on the go. The distance and path are challenging, so it makes sense to make stops, analyze the surroundings and conditions, and decide how to proceed with the route most safely and optimally during each pit stop or checkpoint. It would be hazardous to move up to the summit non-stop and stick to an original fixed plan, ignoring the weather conditions and other changes, agree?

It's basically the same with software or product creation. Incremental development in agile implies that you work in small iterative cycles when each time frame ends in visible results. In most cases, this means that you release a working product version, which you can put to test and that customers can use. Every consequent iteration builds on the previous one, meaning that you keep shaping the solution that improves and evolves all the time (instead of spending too much time releasing something big-scale, which is among the common MVP mistakes).

Close Team Collaboration

Isolation from the group won't get you to Kilimanjaro's summit, right? So agile focuses on teamwork. The result is a team effort with multiple sides collaborating together to roll out the best possible product. People work closely at full capacity, so if there's a need to make a plan change or business pivot, everyone will be quick on the draw. 

Frequent Communication and Teamwork

Communication happens on a daily basis and is another important aspect of agile development. Once again, requirements change quickly, so all teammates have to be organized, up-to-date, and at each other's beck and call. 

Likewise, customer feedback is another crucial component of communication, influencing many decisions on where to move next, how to prioritize features, and how to refine the initial plan. If the plan were fixed, many decisions would be based on guesses, assumptions, and product hypotheses, which is risky if you don't have data or facts to back your calls. Therefore, continuous adaptation is key.

Self-Sufficient and Organized Teams

At the same time, agile also emphasizes individual input without placing an accent on hard-core management. This means that every person or team moving toward "the top of the mountain" (i.e., the product release) takes responsibility for their part of the work without completely relying on a manager to direct every tiny step. This kind of commitment helps dodge roadblocks and process delays, enabling the team to stride toward product release with continuous improvement.

Other Agile Best Practices

It is also worth noting that there are several more basic components of the agile methodology. As such, it values functioning products over making flawless documentation, mainly because time is at stake and the changes are frequent. At the end of each short sprint, a stable solution version is deployed and assessed to make amendments to the product roadmap. That's what sets apart minimum viable product agile development from other approaches.

Due to the flexible nature of both MVPs and the agile methodology, adaptability is also one of the pillars. Agile is all about being flexible and able to respond to change (be it customer needs, market shifts, or other circumstances) instead of blindly following a solid plan. This is specifically why minimum viable products fit into the agile concept perfectly.

Speed of delivery and minimized costs can also be noted as the backbone of an MVP in agile. Because big-scale product development costs are generally high compared to MVP costs, cutting down the resources spent (i.e., time, money, and effort) is also a priority.

MVP Agile Development Benefits

What makes this approach to software development advantageous? Let's go over a few gains you can get by opting for the agile minimum viable product approach when creating and launching an MVP.

What are the benefits of MVP Agile Development?

Quicker Launch

The timeline isn't strict with an MVP in agile. However, the overall time to market is fast, as every sprint results in a functioning version. You move from the highest-priority urgent core features that users can utilize, scaling and supplementing the solution with additional functionality incrementally. This way, the product hits the market rapidly, allowing you to put it to the test, prioritize features in your development backlog, and obtain feedback, which ultimately helps find product-market fit.

Essentially, you don't build a full product, which is much faster. Plus, teams shorten the delivery time by focusing on developing a functioning solution instead of "paperwork". So, if flawless project specifications and detailed documentation aren't of major importance to you, then agile can certainly be a beneficial choice, as you can work your way up to having a mature or Maximum Viable Product.

Minimized Resources and Lowered Risks

The process of building and testing an MVP with agile makes it possible to get results quickly while effectively using resources. Delivering value to the target audience with a "must-have" feature set is in focus and, at the same time, waste is minimized and efficiency is at its maximum.

As such, there are lots of MVP tools that can help get things done much quicker. Not to mention that splitting the process into sprints saves money and time.

Feedback-Based Quality Product

Feedback is an invaluable product-led growth component of an MVP in agile. It guides the development process, indicating which direction to move in and how to improve the product according to the user's opinions and wants.

By moving in iterative product development cycles, you lower the risks of missing the mark when developing a feature or part of the product. When users evaluate the solution, you learn from the gathered data and know how to proceed with consequent iterations, thus producing a higher quality offering each time. These findings will help build a minimum lovable product that'll grow to become a full product over time. 

Flexibility and Adaptability

If the market demands or user needs change, you'll be quick to react and adapt. Both MVPs and the agile development strategy support the utmost adaptability and flexibility. This aids continuous improvement and the product's timely evolution as well. There are many renowned MVP examples showcasing how a product was updated over time to become the world-famous full-version tool or solution used by thousands of people.

How to Build an MVP with the Agile Methodology

Which steps should you follow if you decide to create an MVP using agile? Here's a brief rundown of the main points:

Building an MVP with the Agile Methodology
  1. Describe the MVP product's fundamentals (jot down the main problem, your goals, target users, and other vitals).
  2. Note the major requirements and features (this is sort of the carcass, but some points may be iterated).
  3. Put aside lower-priority features and ideas (you can return to the backlog after the initial release).
  4. Plan out the sprints (indicate the duration and what should be achieved in the first sprint in detail and note what may be done in the ones that follow, as this may change).
  5. Run the first sprint (complete the planned work in the first sprint and release the solution's early version).
  6. Assess the results (review the live solution, study the collected feedback, evaluate MVP success, refine the plan for the next sprint, and re-prioritize features if necessary).
  7. Move on to the next sprints (repeat the development process and continue testing and analyzing during the after MVP phase).

Need help with MVP development?

Upsilon's team has talented experts who can help you develop your product.

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MVP in Agile: Major Takeaways

The classic path of custom software development (such as using the waterfall methodology when the complete product is created before falling into the users' hands) may have visible drawbacks. For instance, it can lead to budget constraints, user dissatisfaction, or wasted time.

Adopting the agile MVP approach allows you to overcome these challenges since you gradually release the product, consequently building and consistently expanding its versions based on user feedback and data. You get to learn what works, what you were wrong about, what customers need, where to place focus to address these needs, and make more informed decisions. This lowers the risk of pouring resources into unnecessary features or putting development hours to waste.

Upsilon's team has built many successful products using this approach. So, if you need a hand with yours, don't be shy to turn to us for MVP development services for early-stage startups. Optimal development processes and our well-versed and experienced team can get your MVP product live in less than three months, so contact us to discuss your needs!

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