The Heavy MVP

7 min read - Product Management
Tim Isaac

Marketing Manager

With over four years of experience in the B2B tech sector, Tim leads Sonin's Marketing team.

Insurance. Banking. Healthcare. Heavy regulations. Complex integrations. High expectations. In this case, it’s hard to relate to the lean Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach preached by so many. What if you’re not building something lightweight? What if you’re building a heavy MVP instead?

The heavy MVP is rarely accomplished in a matter of weeks. Even with a strict scope, it can take months.

The reason? Three key factors:

  • Regulations
  • Integrations
  • Expectations

Each factor alone has the potential to extend the time and resource required to build an MVP. But when combined, the weight starts to stack up. Product owners must recognise these factors to understand how they can keep a heavy MVP lean.

The Heavy MVP Minimum Viable Product

Regulations

The first factor to consider is ‘Regulatory Compliance.’ Prototypes and pilots may be lucky enough to skip this step. But a public-facing product in real users’ hands must meet legal guidelines.

Take security and privacy, for example. Both are key concerns in today’s climate. For many organisations, this will mean meeting the bare minimum requirements at launch. Meanwhile, the heavy MVP must face launching in or adjacent to fiercely-regulated markets.

As the Open Banking movement morphs into Open Life, we will see more and more products make use of fin-tech. Whether they are a financial services app or not. And where people’s personal data is concerned, a complex set of security standards must be followed.

But building this into an MVP product road map adds time and resources that would otherwise be focused towards core features.

Possessing a full picture of these legal requirements during the planning phase prevents delays down the road. It allows product owners to estimate the effort associated with each one and prioritise sprint accordingly.

Recommended article: What does the EU GDPR mean for your app?

Integrations

The second factor to consider is ‘Integrations.’ We live in the most connected age in human history. But while we may have most of the parts, we have also failed to connect the dots. For this reason, many emerging solutions in siloed sectors like insurance are less about adding and more connecting.

As soon as you introduce hardware and data integrations to your product road-map, however, the scales begin to shift. It is at this point a product owner must revisit the time, effort, and value equation integral to the MVP approach.

A bespoke hardware integration in one area might take up valuable time and resource. Meanwhile, a third-party service from a preferred provider in another might save it.

There’s a reason why, at Sonin, we have preferred partners for every complimentary service, integration, and API under the sun. From video calling to payment providers to app store optimisation (ASO).

It is not just the quality of these services that is important. It’s also the relationship. By working with a provider time and time again, an agency is able to eliminate those beginner blockers to ensure momentum never slows down.

Expectations

The final factor to consider is ‘Expectations.’ Users have higher expectations than ever before. As daily product users, we all build up our own expectations for digital experiences.

Context plays a crucial role in this. While there are some products users may make allowances for, there are others where they will be much less forgiving.

Take the two sectors discussed so far: healthcare and financial services. In both cases, users will place much more importance on each interaction. Where other products may escape scrutiny, a heavy MVP must not only meet but exceed expectations to delight users.

Planning a Heavy MVP

A heavy MVP is no small undertaking. It requires careful consideration, planning, and discipline to execute. More importantly, it relies on a deep understanding of the value your product creates for your business and your users.

An MVP is not a prototype or proof of concept. By the time you come to build your product, you should have already talked to your users. You should know the required features and their relative importance.

This is why we always carry out a discovery phase before even beginning development. It gives you the information to separate the core features of your heavy MVP from the fluff.

Functionality is the cornerstone of the MVP pyramid. But it is also where many heavy MVPs get stuck. Juggling regulations, integrations, and expectations is difficult. It creates a functionality-first mindset that ignores expectations.

To combat this, a heavy MVP must not forget the other basic user needs:

  • Reliability
  • Usability
  • Delight

Each of these has an important role to play in the success of an MVP. But for a heavy MVP, they are mission-critical.

Take usability, for example. In a standard MVP, bad usability means a drop-off in engagement and a lower return for the business. But in a fin-tech MVP, bad usability extends the already wide trust gap in financial services. In healthcare, bad usability can be a matter of life and death.

A heavy MVP must be able to escape this functionality tier and address every basic user need. Understanding the minimum aspects of each tier before beginning development will provide a better experience and a higher return.

On User Delight

User delight is perhaps the most important aspect of a product. It is so fundamental to success that, at Sonin, we champion the term ‘Minimum Desirable Product’.

As a concept, delight is often confused with the superficial and the surface-level. But it is less about app aesthetics. Delight is more about delivering a consistently positive experience at every stage in your user journey.

This is not always obvious. Users will not tell you directly everything that delights them. But this is why the concept sits on top of the MVP pyramid.

Because to truly delight its users, a heavy MVP must answer each of the three other needs first. The experience must be functional, reliable, and usable. Only once you have this foundation can you provide genuinely deep delight through your product experience.

Final Thoughts

When working on a heavy MVP, many organisations don’t make it past the functionality stage. Regulations and integrations take up valuable time leaving little resource for reliability, usability, and delight. This leads to an underwhelming end-experience that fails to meet users’ high expectations.

Planning, risk-mitigation, partner relationship management. These are all essential aspects of any successful product. With a heavy MVP, however, they are mission-critical.

At Sonin, we work with clients in the insurance, banking, and healthcare sectors to build products that provide value. Users are at the heart of our proven development process. The result is an award-winning portfolio of work.

If you would like to discuss how Sonin can help you build a heavy MVP, please get in touch.