Asking the right questions before building an MVP

This last week we’ve had two potential new clients ask us for an MVP RFQ (Request for quotation).

MVP means Minimal Viable Product, which in the software world means a very simple app that shows your future potential app in a simplified way.

An MVP is normally used to asses future app behaviour, get feedback from users and work from there, and also as a showcase for future investors — investors very rarely invest in ideas, they prefer to see something functional, with customer response and feedback if possible.

It is important that the MVP shows at least a very important feature of your future app. For example, for an ecommerce MPV, logging in a user is not as important as being able to buy a product.

So back to the story, these two clients contacted us and told us what they wanted in a very different way. It became very clear to me that client A knew exactly what he wanted, whilst client B did not. Client A gave direct answers, client B did not.

If a client doesn’t really know what he wants, asking for information becomes a hurdle, ideas seem to jump all around while nothing ever gets done. If you relate to this, you know how frustrating it is… specially because no one is paying for your time at this stage!!

So what’s really important at that moment is to ask the right questions. I cannot stress enough how important this is, because it sets the pace for the whole project.

For example,

Summarize your app in one sentence.
 There is a reason why this is number one. This is the most important question — of course they can use more than one sentence, but asking them this puts them in a place where they have to really think of the most important element of the app, not just random features they’re going to add. This is key to understanding properly what your client wants.

What is the reason this app exists?
 Spot the USP ‘Unique Selling Point’. There might be none, and this is also fine.

What is the budget for the app and for the MVP?
 This will provide you with information of how big this app is going to be, at least at the beginning. The budget might not be a number, it might be a range. This is fine also, because then you’re able to scope the size of the whole project.

How will you make money from the app?
 Sometimes clients think that we, as developers, don’t need this question answered, specially at an MVP level. I think it’s useful to know where the focus and priorities are going to be, so you can start thinking big and preparing for the future.

These are some of my non technical preferred questions. Believe me, they do the job right! Once, and only once, you get answers for these, you can start asking the technical ones — maybe that’s for a future post :)


Originally published at Joey’s blog.

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