“MVP” Another Word For Prototype?

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In lean and agile software development it is a common practice to build minimal viable products (MVPs). But be careful, often things get labeled MVP that in reality are not. In this article I want to clear up some general misconceptions about what a MVP is and what it is not.

A minimal viable product is essentially a smaller but fully functional version of a product. It can be published for your customers so you can gather feedback early.

A prototype is used as a proof of concept. Compared to a MVP it lacks the necessary quality and functionality to test your product on real customers. A prototype is basically built to proof your concept and afterwards be deleted. Then the real product gets developed and shipped to the customer. Prototypes can be helpful in some cases. For example, when you want to test a new technology or communication between systems and Frameworks. But in essence prototypes are built to be thrown away while MVPs are made to stay and built upon.

The goal of a MVP to adopt customers early and gather feedback for a product or idea that might or might not work on the market.

It is an experiment on your real customers and opens up new doors for your company.

It allows you to make informed discissions on your products based on the early customer feedback without sacrificing to much time in development.

It is developed faster than a full-sized product, but without decreasing the quality and customer experience.

A MVP is not built to burn, but built to learn.

Related books on this topic and lean startup overall i recommend:

  • Lean Startup — Eric Ries
  • Lean Ux — Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
  • User Story Mapping — Jeff Patton

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