Why Define a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Scope?

Building an ecommerce website or other custom application can be time consuming, expensive, and potentially risky. You can shorten your timeline between feature inception and launch, as well as cut down on your overall expenses and risks, by defining a clear MVP scope as early as possible. A clear MVP scope relies on the project stakeholders identifying which features are absolutely necessary in providing value to your business and your customers. In other words, what are the “need to have” vs the “nice to have” features to implement in order to reach your project’s goals? By focusing on launching the “need to haves” first, your project will be live and solving your critical business needs as quickly as possible while your team prioritizes the “nice to haves”, which will be rolled out in sprints after the initial launch. It’s a straightforward concept, and with a bit of brainstorming and decision making, you’ll be on your way in no time.

Step One: Identify Your Main Business Objective

Start by identifying your main business objective. Why are you building this website? What is your main goal? You may have several different business objectives, but in order to truly define your MVP you need to identify your number one goal.

Step Two: Add Story Mapping

Who are your target users, and what process will most of them take to help you achieve the goal stated above? In other words, you know what you want them to do, now how will they do it? If you enjoy creating flow charts, they can be a helpful tool for thinking through the story mapping step, but they are not necessary. Outline the steps at a high level first; don’t worry, you’ll add detail in the next step!

Take a look at each high-level step above, and think through all the different features that could be involved in that step. How would you like the user experience to operate? This is a good time to visit other websites for inspiration (your top competitors as well as websites you simply enjoy buying from). Be as detailed and feature-heavy as you want to be in this step. Whatever you don’t add to your MVP scope can go in to your backlog. An example of some possible features for “User Finds Desired Item” is below.

Step Three: Define your Features

With all your desired features that support your main business objective outlined, it’s time to see which ones make the cut. For each feature, assign a number on a scale of 1-10 for the following questions:Step Four: Assign a Value to your Features

  1. How important is this feature in supporting the user story (ie, user finds desired item)? (1-10)
  2. How popular do you expect this feature to be? (1-10)
  3. How much value will this feature bring to the overall process? (1-10)
  4. How much would it impact your business if you launched without this feature? (1-10)

Tally up the points for each feature. Use the table below to help inform your decision on whether or not to include the features in your MVP scope.

Congratulations, You’ve Defined Your MVP Scope! Now What?

Now you have a thoughtfully considered MVP scope for your project, and a list of features to prioritize your backlog. To grow your backlog and further flesh out your project, go back to step one, think through your secondary and tertiary goals for your project and repeat the process. Features that score high on the list should be prioritized and added as quickly after launch as possible.