Over the last 15 years, Grio has collaborated with companies of all sizes to create hundreds of exceptional software solutions. Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to building an app, we’ve discovered that starting your journey with your Minimum Value Product (MVP) is a great way to set yourself up for long-term success. In this blog series, we are taking our hard-won wisdom and sharing Grio’s ten essential steps for building a killer MVP.
In last week’s post, How to Build a Killer MVP, Step 3: Market Discovery Phase- Using Market Analysis to Gain Leverage Over the Competition, we explored how conducting a market analysis can help you identify your primary market and what sets you apart from the competition.
In this week’s blog post, we cover the fourth step for building a killer MVP: the Planning Phase. We discuss strategies and best practices for creating a plan for your MVP and explore the various components of MVP plans, including user stories, architecture, and conceptual designs.
An MVP, or minimal viable product, is a bare-bones version of your app. MVPs allow you to save time and money on development while testing the viability of your product, engaging investors and stakeholders, and going to market sooner. You can read all about the benefits of MVPs in our first post, How to Build a Killer MVP: Introduction.
In our previous posts, we have also covered the first three steps to building a killer MVP:
- Step 1: Agile Development Methods and Divergent/Convergent Thinking: Using Agile development methods and divergent and convergent thinking can help your team find and prioritize the best ideas for your MVP.
- Step 2: User Discovery- Letting User Needs Inspire Epics: Building epics based on users and their needs will help you create a viable, successful MVP.
- Step 3: Market Discovery Phase- Using Market Analysis to Gain Leverage Over the Competition: Conducting market analysis to identify the primary market and discover what sets your app apart from the competition.
Below, we introduce Step 4: Planning Phase- Creating a Plan to Successfully Navigate Your Project Milestones.
The Planning Phase
Ideas are great. But in order to execute them, you need a plan. What resources do you need? What are your priorities? Are there unknowns or knowledge gaps that could put the project at risk?
Once goals and features are roughly set with epics, you can create a high-level plan that identifies key milestones. Note the plan you create initially isn’t set in stone, but will help guide you through the trials and tribulations of product development.
Your plan should include:
- Phases of the project
- Timeline for each phase
- Resources needed in each phase
- Budgetary expectations for each phase and the overall project
- Key milestones for eventual delivery, such as alpha testing, feature completion, and feature release
Note that predicting budgets and timelines can be complicated with software projects, as simply doubling the resources on a project doesn’t necessarily halve the time to deliver.
Your plan should additionally include a few key components:
A user story is the smallest unit of work in an Agile framework, and describes what the user wants to do within a software system to achieve something valuable. User stories are short, plain-language descriptions of a goal from the end user’s perspective.
User stories do not describe a specific software feature or business objective, but rather clearly articulate who the user is, what they want to do, and why they want to accomplish something.
User stories are often expressed in simple sentences, structured as follows:
“As a [type of user], I [want to], so that [I can accomplish this goal].”
In Step 2: User Discovery, we used the example of building a social media app for vloggers to show how to define user roles. Referring back to this example, a user story could be, “As a vlogger, I want to make my video more interesting so that it gets more views.”
Engineering has a lot to think about at the onset of a project, including how the app will send and receive information, where the data will be stored, what kind of notifications are required for the product, etc. During Discovery, these high-level architectural decisions can be made in parallel with the product definition; however, in the Planning Phase, more specific technical decisions will need to be made.
Engineering will need to define the following integral parts of a mobile app project:
- Technical Architecture: The set of rules and techniques that will be used when developing the app.
- Tech Stack: All of the technologies to be used in development, including programming languages, databases, and tools.
- Backend and Server Technology: The database and server-side objects needed to support the mobile app functionality
- Application Programming Interface (API): The method of communication between the app and a back-end server/database
- Frontend Technology: The native mobile app an end-user installs and interacts with on their mobile devices.
Conceptual designs are a great way to communicate to stakeholders what your app may look like. These are by no means final designs. Rather, they serve as a visual representation of the high-level concepts and potential features identified during the Discovery Phase. These conceptual designs can be a starting point for the more formal UI/UX and visual designs used by developers.
Building a Killer MVP: Next Steps
Once you’ve outlined the plan for your MVP, learn about Step 5 in our next blog post, How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 5: Design Phase- Taking Your Product from Paper to Prototype.
Let’s discuss how we can transform your brilliant idea into a killer app.
Book a free MVP consultation with one of our industry experts today.
Learn more about Grio’s end-to-end app design and delivery plan, the MVP Blueprint.
If you missed other posts in this series, check out:
- How to Build a Killer MVP: Introduction
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 1: Agile Development Methods and Divergent/Convergent Thinking
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 2: User Discovery – Letting User Needs Inspire Epics
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 3: Market Discovery – Using Market Analysis to Gain Leverage Over the Competition
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 4: Planning Phase- Creating a Plan to Successfully Navigate Your Project Milestones
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 5: Design Phase- Taking Your Product from Paper to Prototype
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 6: Development Phase- Embracing Less Engineering and More Testing
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 7: “Breaking” Your App So Your Users Don’t
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 8: Release Phase- Making Sure You Practice Before Your Public Performance
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 9: Measure Phase- Determining Your MVP’s Success Using Key Performance Metrics
- How to Build a Killer MVP App, Step 10: Maintain and Enhance Phase- Valuing the Cycle of Continuous Improvement Throughout Your App’s Lifetime