Minimum Viable Products

What is an MVP?

Minimum Viable Product is a concept we've stolen from the world of startups. Instead of developing a software solution with all the bells and whistles the MVP approach means you solve one or two of the most necessary requirements first, then add additional functionality as it is required (and as budgets are made available).

Development Lifecycle Non-MVP

In a non-MVP environment a typical development lifecycle might look like this:

  • Identify project
  • Perform complex, expensive, cross department requirements analysis (a lot of projects die here)
  • Get quotes to get project built, get board approval to proceed, confirm vendor
  • Start build, have complex change control process for any variations, have large amounts of overhead in project management and testing
  • Often end up with what was asked for, which somewhat varies from what is actually needed
  • Elapsed time from project identification to first usage is 6 to 24 months

Development Lifecycle MVP

When we develop with MVP the lifecycle looks like this:

  • Identify project
  • Get $5,000 to $20,000 funding signed off
  • Identify initial key deliverables
  • Deliver first working version in 2-4 weeks
  • Get management approval to continue to spend money based on results already achieved
  • Iterate

Benefits of MVP Approach

There are several key benefits of this approach:

  • Users are typically using the system in weeks rather than months, so the benefits of doing the project are realised immediately
  • Initial budgets are an order of magnitude less, which is normally easier to get signed off
  • Enhancements are made iteratively as the system is being used, meaning unnecessary features are rarely added
  • Project management and other usual project overheads are reduced

MVP Cost

Every project is different and there can be complications around access to data etc, but we generally deliver the first phase of an MVP for $5,000 to $20,000.

Further iterations are similar.

MVP Case Study

Courier ETA Tool


A leading courier company identified a requirement for an ETA Tool. Ideally it needed to be available to all staff and customers via existing their track and trace system, it needed to be tied into track and trace numbers, it needed to be based on expected routes and it needed to cater for anything going wrong in the rest of the network.

Paralysis by Analysis

Unfortunately as different teams had different expectations and requirements the project had repeatedly been delayed as the various stakeholders couldn't agree.

An MVP Approach

Through discussions with the client the Catevo team found a different approach to get the project started. 400 customers a day were phoning the call centre asking for an ETA, and they only needed a broad indication. With the realisation that we could assist over 100,000 customers a year we designed an MVP.

By using historical data we could provide two hour delivery window based on the customers address, which a customer services representative could enter into a web form. Greater problems within the network were already known about by the customer service representatives and could be explained to the customer if necessary. Drivers were text messaged to ensure they knew someone was expecting their parcel at a certain time.

Talk to us about how an MVP might solve your problems.

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