How to build an MVP in six weeks: “Making of coDrive”

how to build MVP

The wheel of innovation has been continuously spinning with new business ideas that are growing at a rapid phase. Enterprises and ISVs are part of the tech revolution in the past decade via digital transformation, legacy modernization, and disruption in various business verticals. Technology has improved the quality of businesses with many automation initiatives by improving their efficiencies.

Despite the best efforts, some products fail. Numerous factors can cause products to fail. Not releasing the product on time (Time to market) is one of the top 3 reasons why products fail. All ideas start with a big dream to deliver an ideal, perfect, and the most awesome product that nobody has built before.
As we get close to the launch date, we find a million reasons why we can’t launch and push the launch date. The ability to launch the product at a time when the demand is highest is a critical success factor. Launch delay is a product killer, launching in time is crucial with the right initial product.

MVP Approach

One approach to avoid the launch delay is the MVP approach. Getting the product ready for launch on time with the right feature set is essential for the success of the product. This helps you to fail fast and change the direction early on with less investment.

MVP approach also ensures that you,

  • Identify the core features that are required for the product
  • Reduce time to market
  • Minimize your cost and identify risks
  • Are agile with changing priorities
  • Your idea is validated by the pilot users
  • Obtain early feedback and change the direction with low cost

CoDrive – Mobile App

coDrive is a proprietary app developed by coMakeIT to enable its employees to carpool. A large number of employees at coMakeIT use public transport to commute to work. Obviously, everyone was worried about returning to work post lockdown, commute to work was one of the biggest fears.

We wanted to build a carpool app to help our employees commute with their colleagues, maintaining the social distancing and commute norms and restrict a maximum of two people in a car. We had six weeks to plan, develop, and release the app to keep it ready for the unlock phase.

codrive

Feature List

List of Features that are required to release the app. Identify the features that are must-have for the MVP. Trim all the nice to have features. It is a hard decision to make but you have to start with simple features to make an MVP. We wanted to implement the current trends but keep the features simple to develop.

The feature list is prioritized by the product owner(s) based on the following parameters:

  • The MVP is built for users and it is important that the features are prioritized based on the information about the user and usage.
  • Knowledge of users and usage helps the UX and the development team to focus the product to make it user-centric rather than technology-centric.
  • Communication with users should be a continuous process
  • Competitor analysis helps in prioritizing the features

 Planning

Understand the resources that are required to build the product which includes people, technology, tools. For a six weeks MVP, it was very important for us to identify the technology and tools in week 1. It does not hurt to spend an additional week or two to identify the tools and technology.
Planning should ensure you can be agile with the changing priorities during the MVP phase. Agile development also ensures that you minimize risks by focusing on the feature set, user feedback thus iterating on it.

User Experience

Any successful product or service, such as a website or app, needs a good UX design. Especially when building mobile apps, the experience should be intuitive and simple to understand by the end-user. User experience determines the adoption of the product. If the experience is bad, you lose your first set of users who are important for the success of the MVP.
For coDrive, laying out the exact steps to use the app, the interaction design, and the visual design for the mobile was the key element to getting the solution first time right. Plenty of time was spent on whiteboarding and brainstorming to ensure that users find it intuitive and easy to use the mobile app.

Product adoption strategy

It was essential to attract employees to use the app after the release. What can make our employees use the app?

  • coMakeIT was kind enough to provide sanitization services free of cost for all the employees who signed up to share the ride in their vehicles.
  • coMakeIT also incentivized the car owners by paying them for the expenses involved.
  • It was free for all the riders.

Product Architecture

MVP should be developed to make the principle of incremental software development possible. The architecture of the product should allow easy extensibility and scalability.
We took the API first approach to speed up the development process. Each API addressed one unit of work, the application was loosely coupled. By designing the contract of the API first, the mobile app developers and the backend engineers worked parallelly that accelerated the development phase.
A high-level description of the technology stack and the blueprint of the solution can be found in the diagram below

product architecture

Product Deployment Strategy

Having automated deployment processes helps speed up development and testing time. Setting up of dev, test, and prod environments are essential to improve the development workflow, increase productivity, and deliver reliable software on time.

Implementation & Testing

This is the critical phase of the MVP which needs collaboration within the cross-functional team. This required us to build an incremental and iterative product that requires good planning to get the perfect sequence of user stories that are to be developed. The following practices were followed:

  • Equip developers with the right tools
  • Formal Sync up twice a day
  • Informal channel to discuss progress, blockers, questions
  • Every team member spends 5 days end of the day to get clarity on his/her to-do list for the next day.
  • On-demand demos and continuous feedback
  • Code review process to ensure quality and avoid technical debt

App Store release

  • Prepare for app store release at least a week before go-live
  • Privacy policy
  • App store release options
  • Screenshots
  • Create a web page for the app

Pilot Phase

The MVP is for early feedback, so make sure you have an exact view on your initial users, track them carefully, and get their feedback

Identify pilot users within coMakeIT to use the app. The development team on stand by to implement the critical feedback received from users. New feature requests, usability issues are ones we should be prepared for. The pilot phase helped us to test the app on multiple devices.

MVP Launch

That’s how it looked!

mobile app mvp

End of week six we launched the app to the employees. We created enough excitement to onboard 10 users on day 1 of the launch. The launch was smooth. Users were able to install the app successfully and use the app and then the pandemic did not stop, we are back to full time working from home. The app is live, we were able to validate the app with our colleagues and got encouraging feedback.
When we got the idea to develop coDrive, it seemed like an impossible task to release the MVP in six weeks. It required decoupled system architecture that facilitated us to build components in parallel, meticulous planning, a highly skilled and motivated team. Conceptualization and validation of idea with support and funding from the executive team made us launch coDrive.

Our next step for coDrive is to make it “Minimum Marketable Product” that can be made available for other organizations to use.

We are happy to discuss ideas and features that suit the needs of your organization. Please get in touch with us.

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    Shruthi Podduturi

    Shruthi Podduturi

    SVP, Delivery & Customer Engagement

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