Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Change and continuous innovation are now firmly established as perfectly normal. Customers are hungry for more and their expectations are high for the next new thing. Software development, based on traditional web and mobile app development stacks, is too slow - typically taking between 4 and 12 months - for most business use cases. MVPs, built with No code or Low Code platforms could speed things up, significantly.
BEYOND TIME CONSTRAINTS
Non-technical executives and founders still find it difficult to work efficiently and effectively with software development experts and agencies. The process of going through the necessary research, shortlisting and selection of the most appropriate resource can take up to 8 weeks. Discovery, the process of reviewing, communicating and documenting requirements in a format that your technical partner understands and can work with, typically adds another 3 weeks. In some cases, especially with startups, the first line of code may only be written 3 or months after requirements have been documented.
After development starts, it is highly likely that requirements will change and there are no guarantees that a product will be successful. In fact, there is a risk that the business will pivot or even fail. Businesses with limited funding - that is, most of them - don’t have the luxury of time and find it difficult to fund 3+ months of development work in exchange for an uncertain future outcome. Most also cannot fund the related experimentation and time (some say 6 to 8 months) required to establish real traction with their markets.
NO CODE AND LOW CODE MVPs
There is a shorter path that supports the necessary discovery, development and experimentation, but faster and at lower cost. You could develop an MVP in the time normally reserved for the shortlisting and discovery process. Start by creating a clear definition of the MVP that you want to develop - this should be based primarily on your business objectives, launch timing and available budget. Also, no code is still currently a myth and throughout this blog I'll use low code as a more appropriate label. Either way, whether no ode or low code, you'll likely need developer skills and experience. Despite the fact that you are significantly less likely to need to write lines of code, you'll still need to have an abundance of traditional developer skills and experience - mainly thinking logically and multi-dimensionally.
Also, make sure that you focus on building the smallest usable subset of product and the features that make it different. You should stick religiously to the self imposed time and product feature constraints and ruthlessly avoid scope creep by systematically removing other items if you must accommodate new ideas.
Use a Low Code platform and use a short design sprint (4 to 7 days) - instead of the traditional discovery process - to create your first low fidelity prototype. Continue to use the Low Code platform, combined with traditional coding to build your MVP in days or weeks, instead of months. Then, after launching, continue refinement and development. You could reach your objectives in weeks, experiment and even pivot if required. This process makes it much less likely that you will develop a product that your customers don’t want.
THE FUTURE IS HERE
Low Code platforms have been around for decades. However, we now see a wider variety of platforms, including Glide, Fliplet, Adole, Stacker, Bubble and Thunkable. The flip side is hat most have built-in limitations and choosing the right platform is a critical and important step that is best left to a technical expert who is familiar with the business objectives and the available platforms. In most cases, a Low Code platform alone is often not enough to achieve the business objectives and you may still need to involve traditional software developers to achieve the required degree of customisation.
However, the benefits are substantial and the future of MVPs will be largely driven by Low Code. Gartner, a leading research company, says that 65% of mobile app development will be through Low Code or similar platforms by 2024. The economic benefits of a Low Code platform approach could be substantial - a Low Code platform will require a significantly lower budget. Of course, Low Code is not the only solution and you should consider all available options that allow you to launch your MVP and validate your product quickly.
When Facebook launched its first MVP the product simply permitted students to post messages to their boards. Airbnb's journey commenced with a property in a single location and a test to investigate the short term rental market. Amazon's MVP - focused exclusively on books, sold at a low price - consisted of a very simple web page. Uber's journey started in a single city and their offer exclusively targeted Iphone users. The Groupon MVP launched emailed PDFs to subscribers who found its simple Wordpress websites.
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