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minimum viable product

5 Essential Steps to Define Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Scope

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
November 8, 2023
Defining a Minimum Viable Product Scope


A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the most basic form of a product designed to hit the market quickly, undergoing iterative changes based on user feedback. This approach has gained popularity among startups and businesses because it provides a fast, efficient, and feedback-driven path to market.

However, not every MVP reaches its full potential, and a major reason behind this failure is the absence of a well-defined scope. Lacking a concrete MVP scope can result in a host of problems for both the product owner and the software development team. Ambiguities concerning deliverable features, timelines, and expected outcomes may arise, leading to misunderstandings and unmet expectations.

When you're building an MVP, clarity in these areas is essential. A well-planned scope will provide that clarity and serve as a roadmap for everyone involved. It lets the team focus on what's truly important for the initial launch and helps avoid unnecessary complications.

In this article, we will explore what MVP scope means and the importance of defining MVP score. We will then explain the steps required to define an MVP scope in detail.

Let’s get started!

What is Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Scope?

Minimum viable product (MVP) scope refers to the predetermined set of features and functionalities your MVP will include upon its initial launch. These elements are necessary to solve the user's core problem without any bells and whistles that might come in later versions.

Defining the scope of an MVP helps the development team and stakeholders understand what needs to be included and what can be postponed for future updates. It's about intelligent decision-making regarding what features to include and which to defer, ensuring that valuable resources such as time and money are used efficiently.

A well-defined MVP scope keeps the team focused on the key elements driving user engagement and offering value from the get-go. It serves as a guideline that helps align the project's goals with the target audience's needs.

The more precise your MVP scope, the more straightforward the product development cycle will be, reducing the risk of delays, cost overruns, and disappointed stakeholders.

Why Define a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Scope?

When building an e-commerce website or any custom application, the process can be time-consuming, expensive, and fraught with potential risks. One of the most effective ways to mitigate these challenges is by establishing a clear MVP scope at the earliest stages of your project.

Defining MVP scope offers:

  1. Time Efficiency: A well-defined MVP scope enables you to shorten the time between conceiving and launching a feature. By focusing only on the essential features, you can get your product to the target market more quickly.
  2. Cost Management: You can significantly reduce your overall expenses by zeroing in on the necessary features. This allows you to allocate your budget more wisely, concentrating on the most valuable elements.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Knowing your MVP scope reduces uncertainties and sets clear expectations for the team and stakeholders, thus minimizing the risks associated with product development.

The key to a successful product MVP scope lies in identifying which features are important for delivering value to your business and customers. You must distinguish between your product's "need to have" and the "nice to have" features.

Launching with only the "need to have" elements, you quickly address your most urgent business needs. This enables you to go live sooner and start generating value, while subsequent updates can introduce the "nice to have" features in a phased manner.

Steps to Define Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Scope

When defining the scope of a minimum viable product, a structured approach is essential. There are specific steps you should follow to fully understand the software requirements and create a detailed list of essential components. Following these steps ensures the MVP scope is comprehensive and aligned with your business objectives.

Step 1: Identify Your Business Objective

The first step for defining your MVP scope is to identify the business objectives you aim to accomplish. Whether considering a partnership or embarking on MVP development independently, a precise understanding of your goals is essential.

To do this, it's advisable to analyze your needs and requirements. Create a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects you aim to cover with the software MVP.

This should encompass:

  • Purpose: Explain why the MVP is being developed in the first place. Is it to test a new market, solve a particular problem, or perhaps something else?
  • Benefits: List the advantages or benefits that you anticipate from the MVP. This could include increased customer engagement, solving a particular pain point, or accelerating time-to-market.
  • Goals: Specify what the MVP aims to achieve. Is it revenue generation, customer acquisition, or another metric?
  • Timeline: Provide an estimated timeframe for when the software development will be completed. Knowing the time constraints helps in setting realistic scope boundaries.
  • Cost: An estimate or range for the overall expenditure should be included. This will assist in budget allocation and making cost-benefit analyses.

Step 2: Identify The Target Audience

Understanding your target audience is essential in shaping the MVP scope. This step forms the basis for many subsequent decisions related to MVP development. First, begin by segmenting your audience into various groups based on certain criteria like age, location, interests, or needs.

Once you have segmented your audience, the next task is to analyze the kind of experience you aim to deliver to them. Also, consider what actions you want to encourage from your audience once they engage with the product.

To get a well-rounded understanding, address the following questions:

Who is the Ideal Audience?

Defining your product's ideal user or audience will help you tailor your MVP features and functionalities to meet their needs better.

Who can benefit from the features that MVP offers?

Determine the groups of people who would directly benefit from what your MVP offers. This could range from solving a specific problem to providing a more convenient way to complete a task.

How Does the Product Benefit These Users?

Enumerate the advantages that these specific users will gain from your product. Understanding this can help you prioritize the features to be included in the MVP scope.

Answering these questions can help you create a better view of the consumer base, which, in turn, will help with the next step of defining the scope.

Step 3: Define User Flow & Prioritize Features

Understanding your target audience sets the stage for this next pivotal step in defining your MVP scope. This involves creating a user flow that outlines the intended journey a user will take through your software MVP. To visualize this journey, you can create a wireframe depicting the steps a user will likely follow.

The ultimate action within this user flow should align with your key business objective, whether conversion, submission, purchase, or subscription. This user flow not only helps you prioritize each feature but also allows you to set mini-deliverables, which can act as milestones for your project.

When determining the features, categorize them based on their priority. Some features will be essential to achieve the business objectives, while others can be added later. This helps in understanding what to develop first and what can be postponed.

While defining your MVP scope, consider the following:

  • Technology Stack: Specify the technologies you'll need to build the MVP. This can include programming languages, databases, frameworks, and other tools.
  • UI Flow: Discuss the main user interface and how it might differ in various product versions. Outline the features that should be added in each phase or increment of the project.
  • Team Members: Estimate the number of developers, project managers, technology experts, UI/UX designers, and graphic designers needed to accomplish your MVP scope. This helps in planning and budget allocation.
  • Deployment Strategy: Outline how you plan to roll out the MVP. This can involve multiple phases, including beta testing and full-scale launch.

Step 4: List The Major Deliverables

After defining the user flow and prioritizing features, the next crucial step is to list the major deliverables for your MVP project. These deliverables act as the benchmarks or tangible outcomes you aim to achieve at different stages of the product development process.

In line with your prioritized features, specify each deliverable in a manner that makes it measurable and tangible. The reason for this is to enable an effective way to assess the results of each development sprint. For example, instead of stating that you want to improve user experience, specify that you aim to reduce page load times to under two seconds.

Here's how you could list major deliverables in a more specific manner:

  • User Authentication Module: Achieve 99.9% uptime for secure user login and registration.
  • Basic Search Functionality: Return relevant search results in under 300 milliseconds.
  • Payment Gateway Integration: Ensure a 99.99% successful transaction rate with a response time under 500 milliseconds.
  • Main Dashboard: Achieve a user satisfaction score of 8 out of 10 in initial user testing.
  • Database Schema: Handle 1000 concurrent users without performance degradation.
  • API Integrations: Ensure a 99% successful data retrieval rate from third-party APIs.
  • Error Logging and Analytics: Capture 100% of application errors for review and generate daily performance reports.
  • User Feedback Mechanism: Implement a rating system and capture at least 200 user feedback submissions within the first month.
  • Initial User Testing: Identify and fix at least 95% of high-priority issues before the public launch.
  • Deployment Strategy: Achieve zero downtime during the deployment process.

Creating this list of major deliverables ensures that each sprint is planned and executed in alignment with your overall project goals. It provides clear direction to the team, helping everyone stay focused on what needs to be accomplished in each project phase. It's a proactive approach to avoid ambiguities and keep the development work on track.

Step 5. Write Down The Milestones and Timelines

Once you've sorted out the major deliverables, establishing milestones and timelines for each is the next logical step. Each milestone serves as a checkpoint where a particular feature or version of the MVP is complete.

It's a way to mark progress, giving the development team and stakeholders a way to gauge how well things are moving. It's crucial to attach specific dates to these milestones initially.

This does two things:

1. Sets Expectations

When you attach a date to a milestone, you're setting an expectation for when a particular aspect of the project will be completed. This can be especially helpful for stakeholders who may not be as involved in the day-to-day details but need to know when to expect results.

2. Helps in Planning

Knowing the date for each milestone can assist in resource allocation. For example, if you know a key feature needs to be completed by a certain date, you can ensure that adequate personnel and other resources are allocated to meet that deadline.


Defining the scope of a Minimum Viable Product is an important step that sets the tone for the entire software development process. By outlining what is essential and what can wait, you fast-track your project and create a focused path to success. With a clear vision, measurable deliverables, and a timeline in place, you're well on your way to launching an MVP that meets both business objectives and user needs.

For businesses seeking a streamlined and effective way to define and realize their MVP scope, OneSeven offers a comprehensive MVP package tailored to your specific needs. Our experts take the time to understand your project's unique challenges and opportunities, guiding you through every step of the development process.

Don't let the complexities of defining an MVP scope slow you down. Explore OneSeven's MVP Development Services for a comprehensive solution that brings your product to your target market faster and smarter.

For more on how we can help you succeed, visit our Software Development Agency service page or our Home Page for an overview of how we can help your business thrive.

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