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 6: Development Phase- Embracing Less Engineering and More Testing, we covered best practices for avoiding common errors associated with the development phase.
In this week’s blog post, we cover the seventh step for building a killer MVP: the Stabilization Phase. We’ll explore how a proper test plan can help you find issues before your users do.
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 two 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.
- Step 4: Planning Phase- Creating a Plan to Successfully Navigate Your Project Milestones: Using user stories, architecture, and conceptual designs to create a robust MVP development plan.
- Step 5: Design Phase- Taking Your Product from Paper to Prototype: Maximizing your UI/UX to create a seamless user experience and polished look for your MVP.
- Step 6: Development Phase- Embracing Less Engineering and More Testing: Avoiding common Development Phase obstacles using Grio’s key strategies for success.
Below, we introduce Step 7: Stabilization Phase- “Breaking” Your App So Your Users Don’t.
“Breaking” Your App During the Stabilization Phase
During the Stabilization Phase, feature work is completed and the testing begins. No matter how skilled your software development team is, the early stages of an app will always need adjustments. The Stabilization Phase is a time for you to create and execute a test plan to identify issues, fix bugs, and make improvements to the UI/UX.
Purpose of a Test Plan
A test plan is a dynamic document that acts as a blueprint for how the testing activities will be completed for your project. A test plan should outline the strategy you will use to thoroughly test all the features of your app. You want to look for edge cases and ways to “break” the app so that you can find any issues before your users do.
The plan also helps individuals outside the QA team (developers, business managers, customer-facing teams) understand exactly how the product will be tested.
Components of a Test Plan
Just as each app is unique, each test plan should be designed to fit the needs of the app it will be testing. In general, most test plans will include the following components:
If you begin testing without clear objectives in mind, it’s easy to waste time and resources gathering information you don’t need. Clearly define your goals as a team so that you can choose the specific tests that will help you achieve them.
Your objectives may be broad (e.g. identify any defects in the app) or specific (e.g. confirm the productivity of newly added features). If you have multiple objectives, it’s also beneficial to prioritize them, as time and budget restraints may prevent you from completing all of the tests you want.
Scope and Strategy
Using your objectives, identify your in-scope components (the components you will be testing) and your out-of-scope components. Some items commonly included in the strategy talks include:
- User flows
- User management, including login and registration
- Backend APIs
It’s important to not only establish the scope with your internal team, but also with clients and stakeholders so everyone understands where data gaps may occur.
You also want to define your test criteria at this point. Most test plans will include two sets of test criteria:
- Suspension Criteria: The suspension criteria demarcates the point at which testing will be halted until identified issues are addressed. For example, your team may decide that if more than 30% of the tests are failing, testing will be halted and the app will be returned to the development phase.
- Exit Criteria: The exit criteria are the criteria that must be reached for the stabilization phase to conclude. In general, these exit criteria should mirror the test objectives.
Unfortunately, no matter how large your company is or how much you prioritize testing, it will never feel like you have enough resources to fully test your app to your standards. It’s therefore important to find resources that are efficient and beneficial so that you can optimize your testing time.
Automated testing tools can also help to hasten the testing process. At Grio, we recommend two specific tools for testing your app:
Schedule and Estimation
Once you have your scope and resources, it’s time to apply the associated schedule and budget. This not only keeps your development team on track; it also ensures that clients and stakeholders are on the same page about the app’s progression. If you are working with external stakeholders, ensure your schedule and budget are approved by all parties before testing begins.
While deliverables are the last section in your test plan, they are not necessarily the last step. The test plan should outline the list of deliverables that your development team will be providing throughout the Stabilization Phase.
For example, before testing begins in earnest, your development team should provide test plan and test strategy documentation. During the Stabilization Phase, the testing data should be compiled into periodic reports that can be compared to the suspension criteria and exit criteria. Once your testing is complete, your development team can provide a number of deliverables to share their findings, including test summary reports, defect and incident reports, or test closure reports.
Types of Tests for Killer MVPs
There are numerous testing methods that you can employ when testing your application. At Grio, some of our favorite tests to use when creating our MVPs include:
White and black box testing are two methods of testing that go hand-in-hand to ensure you are hitting all of the components of your app. White box testing is completed by the software developers and considers the internal functionality of the app during the testing process.
Black Box testing is typically performed by testers in your organization. Because black box testing is not completed by the software developers, it only examines the external components of the app. By completing these two testing strategies hand-in-hand, you can greatly increase your testing coverage.
Agile testing uses the Agile methodology (do you remember that from Step 1?) to test your app as features are developed. Instead of waiting for the MVP app to be completed for testing to start, testers are in sync with the development team and can give timely feedback.
If you have a large app that requires a lot of testing, automating some of your testing processes can save you time and money. However, it’s important to invest the appropriate amount of time in setting up the automation so that you’re not receiving inaccurate or incomplete data.
Building a Killer MVP: Next Steps
The Stabilization Phase is perfectly complemented by the Release Phase we discuss in next week’s blog post, How to Build a Killer MVP, Step 8: Release Phase- Making Sure You Practice Before Your Public Performance.
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