When developing a minimum viable product (MVP), minimizing cost and time to market are top priorities. The point of an MVP is to test the waters and see if a new idea is viable. If the concept is proven to have potential after the MVP is released more time can be spent building additional features to create a more polished product. There is no point dumping a ton of resources into what is basically a test project.
One way to quickly release a minimum viable product while expending a limited amount of resources is with IT outsourcing. To illustrate how engaging an IT outsourcing partner is compatible with MVP projects I am going to discuss the experience of one of our clients.
Options for Developing a Minimum Viable Product
Larvol is a US-based tech company that provides SaaS solutions supporting competitive intelligence, business intelligence, and medical communications departments in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Their international team, made up of PhDs and MDs in various medical fields, has provided comprehensive competitive intelligence and analysis for a number of fortune 500 companies.
In addition to their main service, Larvol decided they wanted to experiment with a mobile app to explore a new opportunity and they needed to create a minimum viable product to do so. However, even though they have competent developers, they lacked the iOS expertise they needed to quickly push out an MVP.
At this point Larvol had two options:
- Start the recruitment process for a project that should only last a few months.
- Find an IT outsourcing partner to engage in the short term to quickly start the project.
In-house development of an MVP is a viable strategy, but not if you are lacking the developers you need to work on the project. An MVP should be relatively quick and cheap, going through a recruitment a process just to staff a test project is contradictory to this goal. It is pretty much always quicker and cheaper to find an outsourcing partner to push out an MVP, and as you can guess Larvol chose the second option.
An IT Offshore Solution to support a Lean Product Development Approach
So Larvol decided to choose an offshore solution and teamed up with Pentalog developers in Hanoi Vietnam as a way to save on costs and to get coding as quickly as possible. With only two full time iOS developers (one backend and one frontend) and a scrum master and tester working half time, this Vietnamese team was able to push out a minimum viable product for Larvol in just 3.5 months. It was accepted into Apple’s app store in its beta release, allowing Larvol to collect user feedback.
The feedback was encouraging and Larvol decided to continue with the project. They extended their contract with the offshore team in Vietnam with the goal of adding more features to the app. This is a positive case example of how MVPs are supposed to work. You quickly release the product with the minimum amount of features necessary and then you gather feedback to see if the project is worth continuing. The extra benefit of using an outsourced team is that you can extend their contract and keep developing the app for low cost even after it is out of the MVP stage.
Key Success Factors: Recruitment, communication, organization
A number of factors made this collaboration between Larvol and Pentalog’s offshore team in Vietnam a success:
- Fast Recruitment: The offshore Vietnam team was assembled and started working on the project just two weeks after Larvol first contacted Pentalog.
- Agile Scrum Approach: Agile teams focus on fast and frequent releases which is perfectly suited to an MVP project.
- Strong Communication: Although Vietnam and San Francisco (where Larvol’s HQ is located) have hours of timezone separation, both teams made communication top priority. Bi-weekly meetings were held to exchange feedback and information.
- Organization and Transparency: Larvol appreciated how our steering committee meetings encouraged open dialogue which generated useful discussion that helped propel the project forward.
Larvol’s CEO, Bruno Larvol, commented:
“The Pentalog team was extremely responsive to our needs and made many excellent suggestions to improve our product. The level of communication was such that it felt like we were working with a very talented internal team”
In the end Larvol found exactly what they needed, an Agile, well organized, and low cost expert offshore development team that was recruited quickly and that delivered on time.
Learn more about IT outsourcing to Vietnam: Six Steps to Building a Successful Offshore Collaboration with Vietnam