The Proof of Concept > The Prototype > The Minimal Viable Product

The Proof of Concept

At the outset of developing a minimal viable product (MVP), the initial step is establishing a proof of concept. This involves determining whether the idea addresses a need or desire for which customers are willing to pay. If the product doesn’t solve a problem or offer a benefit to the customer, the entire concept is likely to fail. Therefore, it’s essential to clarify what the product is, how it adds value, whether customers will desire it, and, crucially, if they are willing to pay for it. The product must be profitable enough to ensure business success. A proof of concept, akin to an architectural blueprint approved by the client before construction begins, is vital before any development. Investing a modest amount in getting this stage right can prevent significant financial losses from developing a product that doesn’t meet customer needs, lacks perceived value, or is priced inaccessibly.

The Prototype

Following a successful proof of concept, the next phase is creating a prototype. This step is about materializing the concept to see if it’s feasible in practice. Using an architectural analogy, it’s like examining a model village before full-scale construction. In software development, this might involve developing a few key features to test their effectiveness and value to the client. The prototype is basic, possibly unrefined, and lacks the full features, compliance, security, and validation of the final product. However, it should be sufficient to transform the proof of concept, which is an idea, into a tangible, albeit rudimentary, product.

The Minimal Viable Product

Once the prototype is approved, the next stage is enhancing it into a minimal viable product (MVP). The MVP, however, is not the final, comprehensive product. It’s an incremental step that adds more value and functionality but remains a basic version of what the product is envisioned to be. It adheres to the principle of delivering the essential features that customers are willing to pay for, often described by the 80/20 rule. The MVP is a functional product used regularly by users, but it’s not feature-complete. Initially, it might only perform a few tasks, but it should do them exceptionally well. Additional features and enhancements can be added later.

Tim HJ Rogers
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