When I started my first software company in the midst of the dot-com boom, a product comparison kind of service, we needed to build the application from scratch and hired a bunch of the smartest software developers anywhere. Long story short, after 9 months we had had 6 rewrites of the backend infrastructure and not much to actually show for it, let alone a website or application we could demo to investors. This is, by the way, when I met Jan here at Servoy and his team who came in and saved the day.
If I only knew then, what I know now. In hindsight, I would have given gold for understanding the concept of a minimum viable product or MVP (to be used ideally in combination with a UX-first approach). The way it works is like this: Instead of going bottom-up and building the complete infrastructure first, we now recommend our customers to focus on the smallest possible minimum viable product we can help them build. This MVP should be commercially viable (for example, a very light-weight version of their app), or sometimes it’s focused on dashboarding, a “sexy” visualization tool to sell to the management level. In any case it’s an invaluable tool that collects immediate feedback from users.
Modernizing a business application the traditional way feels like waiting and looking for light at the end of the tunnel–a long, dark tunnel. One that goes nowhere fast. And then, when your business application is finally ready, either customers react differently than you had hoped, or new competitors with “point-solutions” pop-up and ruin the launch.
Please…whatever you do, give the MVP a try first. We get it here at Servoy. We know you can’t launch until your product is completely ready, every module with all its beautiful functionality. This may be true for your existing customers, but not necessarily for new customers that may have a need for a less complete app. In any case you’ll need feedback from users sooner, not later.
Your application is huge and complex. Stay tuned for the next Servoy blog post where we talk about how to “eat the elephant.”