What is an MVP in software development?

While the acronym MVP can have many meanings, be honest — your knee-jerk definition is probably, “Most Valuable Player,” right? It certainly is for me, and no wonder – we’re all likely to encounter this familiar phrase while going to school, participating in sports, and listening to the news.

But when you hear a software developer or project manager mention MVP, are they talking about the same thing? Not at all. We’ve heard people ask if it means everything from “Most Valuable Programmer” to “Most Valuable Project,” and yes, they do fit within the acronym, but that is not the definition we’re looking for.

The true definition of MVP in software development and project management means “Minimum Viable Product.” This is an important concept all entrepreneurs and leaders should know before going into any custom software development project. In fact, an MVP could save your project time and money.

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The formal definition of MVP according to Techopedia is:

“A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.”

An MVP is the best way to start any project because it allows for agile development cycles. This means that your product gets to users faster, who then will provide crucial feedback that will then help your product become even better in the next development cycle.

Minimum Viable Product is what can be described a version of the product that contains basic minimum required set of features. Will it have all the awesome features you want your users to have? No, but it will have what you really need to get to market faster. Is this the final product and how it’s going to look to all my users? No, this is the very beginning of your incredible product journey.

Why does my project need an MVP?

MVP can be best described as a mid-point between the earlier stages of the development process and the final product. In a way, it’s one of the most important stages of the entire development process. From here you will test your product in markets and with your target audiences and have the ability to pivot if needed.

We all want our custom development projects finished faster and under budget. An MVP allows you to do that by stripping away all of the extra features that haven’t been tested with users and that could be built during the next version. This provides faster turnaround time and allows your team to get a product that you can then flesh out.

It’s great to be prepared to build your product completely and have a cohesive vision for any product, but just like eating an elephant, sometimes it’s better to do one small bite at a time to reach your goal.