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Factors that can affect the development time of your MVP

How long will it take to develop our first MVP?
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Do you want to fail? Of course not! Do you want to ship a flawed product? Also no? Well, you can't have both...

See, in software development, the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has emerged as a beacon for startups and entrepreneurs. An MVP represents the bare-bones essence of a product, equipped just enough to validate its core value proposition and gather precious user feedback. In other words, something you’d call a flawed product. But in a good way.

However, the development time required to breathe life into this MVP is a intricate equation, influenced by a multitude of factors. Grasping these variables is essential for non-technical founders to set realistic expectations and steer the development process with finesse.

Lose yourself in trying to create the perfect product and you may soon risk becoming the modern day equivalent of Don Quixote chasing windmills. So, here are some non-obvious factors that can negatively affect the development time of your MVP:

Scope creep

At the heart of an MVP lies the careful selection of features. The number, complexity, and interdependencies of these features directly impact development time. A pared-down MVP with a laser-sharp focus on core functionalities will undoubtedly require less time than an ambitious one overflowing with a comprehensive feature set. The key lies in striking a delicate balance between simplicity and depth, ensuring the MVP captures the essence of the product while remaining lean enough for rapid development.

Gathering user feedback is essential for product refinement, but it's important to resist the temptation of incorporating every suggestion into the MVP.

There’s a great Simpson’s episode about it (isn’t there a Simpson’s episode for like, anything?) where Homer, backed by his entrepreneur brother, designs the perfect car with every feature you can think of. Here’s how it turned out:

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The perfect car

Scope creep, the uncontrolled addition of features, can lead to feature bloat, extending development time and diverting resources from core functionalities. It is crucial to maintain a clear focus on the MVP's core value proposition, ensuring that feature additions align with the product's vision and do not jeopardize timely delivery.

External dependencies

Imagine you’re making a sandwich. Because you’re hungry, obviously. How soon would you die of starvation if you were to get the bread from France, cheese from Switzerland and ham from… Hamland (the Land of Ham, home to the inventor of ham – John Ham II)?

That’s a great approach if you’re designing a quest for Dark Souls, but for business… not so much.

If your MVP relies on integrations with third-party APIs or services, the development process may be swayed by the availability and responsiveness of these external factors.

Delays from external parties can disrupt the development process, causing setbacks and extending the overall timeline. Unforeseen changes in API specifications, unexpected outages, or insufficient technical support from external entities can lead to rework, delays in feature implementation, or even the need to re-evaluate the viability of certain integrations.

To effectively manage these external dependencies and minimize their impact on development time, it is essential to conduct a thorough evaluation of each third-party integration. This evaluation should assess the reliability, stability, and maturity of the API or service, as well as the reputation and responsiveness of the provider.

Tech stack

The choice of programming languages, frameworks, and development tools significantly impacts development time. Selecting languages with a high learning curve, limited documentation, or a scarcity of skilled developers can lead to extended development cycles and increased costs. On the other hand, opting for mature and well-supported languages, such as Python or JavaScript, can provide a wealth of resources, a large community of experienced developers, and extensive libraries and frameworks, streamlining development and reducing the time required to bring features to life.

Go to a car repair shop. EVs, EVs everywhere. Notice the striking absence of Toyota Hilux’s, Nissan Patrols and classic Jeeps. They just don’t break. Or, if you try hard enough and eventually manage to break one of them, they can be easily fixed with tape.

The expertise of the development team is another crucial factor in determining development time. A team with a deep understanding of the chosen technology stack can identify potential issues early on, and implement solutions quickly. Conversely, a team lacking the necessary expertise may struggle with the technology stack, leading to rework, delays, and potential frustration.

Communication

Clear and consistent communication between the product team, development team, and stakeholders is the bridge between vision and reality. Frequent meetings, detailed documentation, and a culture of transparency foster collaboration and reduce the risk of misunderstandings, which can lead to rework and delays. Effective communication is like a beacon guiding the development process, ensuring everyone is aligned towards the shared vision.

Frequent meetings serve as regular check-ins, allowing all parties to stay abreast of progress, address concerns, and make informed decisions. These gatherings are not mere formalities but rather opportunities to foster collaboration, exchange ideas, and ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymnbook.

Detailed documentation, the Rosetta Stone of software development, provides a comprehensive record of the project's requirements, design decisions, and implementation details. It's like a detailed map guiding the development team through the intricacies of the project, preventing costly rework and ensuring that the final product reflects the vision of its creators.

The Tower of Babylon – the greatest startup ever. Remember why it was never finished? Because of 沟通问题

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Unforeseen challenges

The development process is not a linear journey – it is a winding path adorned with unforeseen challenges. Technical issues, unexpected bugs, or changing market conditions can arise and disrupt the planned timeline. Flexibility and adaptability are key to navigating these roadblocks effectively. Like a skilled navigator, the development team must be prepared to adjust course and overcome unexpected obstacles.

Technical issues, ranging from intricate coding errors to hardware malfunctions, are an inevitable part of the development process. While some issues may be minor and easily resolved, others may require extensive debugging, testing, and potential rework. The ability to identify, analyze, and address these technical challenges promptly is crucial for minimizing delays and keeping the project on track.

Unexpected bugs, often hidden and insidious, can emerge at any stage of development, disrupting functionality and user experience. These bugs can be triggered by unforeseen interactions, unexpected user behaviour, or even changes in the underlying operating system or browser environment. The development team must possess the skills and expertise to identify, reproduce, and resolve these bugs effectively, ensuring that the MVP delivers a seamless and bug-free user experience.

Changing market conditions, driven by evolving user preferences, emerging competitor offerings, or shifts in industry trends, can also pose significant challenges during MVP development. These changes may necessitate feature reprioritization, design modifications, or even a complete overhaul of the MVP's core concept. The ability to adapt to these market shifts, while remaining true to the product's core value proposition, is essential for ensuring the MVP's relevance and long-term success.

A modern-day Socrates has coined a very relevant phrase: "Improvise, adapt, overcome". Make it your motto for the time being. Your goal is not to create the perfect product, it's much more complicated – it's to ship a product.

And we have devs for that. At Match.dev we connect you with top talent, quickly and affordably. And keep in mind, you're not outsourcing a dev – you're getting a full-fledged team member who seamlessly integrates into your project management ecosystem and works in line with your product strategy. Drop us a line and let us help you find the right developers! team@match.dev

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