How to create MVP for efficient supply chain management

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Supply chain management (SCM) takes a significant place in the efficient performance of the modern enterprise. Despite being underestimated in the past, in recent years supply chain management has taken a prominent place among the crucial factors helping the company to keep pace with the rapidly changed market conditions. So, why does the company need supply chain management? In short, supply chain management operations are determined as a set of activities that result in transforming raw materials into finished products. When appropriately performed, supply chain management system sustains effective interaction of supply and manufacturing companies, retail enterprises, warehouses, and clients in order to distribute the products and services at the rational costs and optimal timeframe, and meet the customers' requirements. It is beyond doubt that customers' appetites and demands are drastically growing each day, and the company with a competitive price level, a wide spectrum of essential products, and speedy service delivery will win the battle for clients' loyalty. In order to meet these standards, the company requires a fruitful transformation to get the maximum value for its supply chain and inventory operations.

IT gives a helping hand to SCM

Fortunately, the high-tech industry has aggregated and can share workable practices to give a boost to supply chain and inventory management and help the company monitor its problems at once. Embedding of software services and applications for supply chain and inventory management can be such a solution. Also, when the high performing SCM software is implemented, the company can give a prompt response to delayed shipments from suppliers, handle the logistics issues, improve inventory tracking, raise the company's visibility in the business arena and sustain efficient collaboration between vendors and clients. Moreover, supply chain management software allows to indicate the possible risks, therefore an organization can launch rewarding strategies to improve its overall working process and raise its operational outcome.

Minimum viable product – maximal resources efficiency

As you may find out from the above statements, the development of software products for supply chain and inventory management are significant projects and can bring benefits for supply chain enterprises as well as outcomes for the product development. But how to predict that your budget and time expenses will reach the target and the rewards will be worth any risk? Fortunately, there is no need to reinvent the wheel as solutions can be launched by an MVP approach. The MVP (minimum viable product) was first determined by Frank Robinson, and the MVP concept has got its further development by Eric Ries, who described it in his book "The Lean Startup" in 2009. MVP can be briefly described as the first version of a product which is going to be developed, for instance, a mobile app for the stock transactions monitoring or a landing page for inventory management platform, which includes only the most important functionality of the future developed product – for example, only one payment method, one way of user registration. Such an approach enables to speed up development and therefore makes the minimum viable product entering the market at a fast pace. As a result, the users get a functional version of the future full-featured product with the core set of functionalities that can be reviewed, tested, and given feedback on.

Why is MVP a beneficial solution?

A core idea of MVP development is to build up an actual product or service with limited but the most important features to observe the customers' behavior with it. Starting to get feedbacks, the MVP product indicates if existing functionality can meet the users' needs or should be adjusted to new demanded features. After all, MVP creation allows you to be in front of the situation and get an understanding of whether your product is appealing for customers, and it is necessary to think over getting the further investment resources to upgrade your software with extra functionality. Or opposite, you will get an understanding that you should give a new product a try. In such a case, the MVP version saves time for reaching a market, budget spending, and efforts to launch another, more successful project.

From ideas generation to MVP launch

Let's discover the steps which should be followed on the way to build and deliver a successful MVP.

Step 1. Ideas defining and problem solving

Each promising journey starts with the small but confident step in the right direction. When it comes to MVP development, the first step should be devoted to defining the ideas of your future product and the problems it is aimed to solve. Your product is remarkable with unique ideas which it highlights. When transmitting your ideas into the technical features, think about the value your product will bring to customers. When you offer a problem-solving creation, your product will be appealing to clients and will strengthen its positions in a particular market niche.

Step 2. Describe your ideal customer

Your MVP-project will be a wise investment in case its concept is customer-centric. Therefore, it is crucially important to indicate your target audience with their prevailing age, habits and hobbies, the level of education, and earning rates. This prominent data can be aggregated by involving market analytics and conducting focus group surveys. You have to get a proper vision of your target clients in order to draw up the right roadmap for efficient MVP development.

Step 3. You are better than your competitors

We believe that for sure, you will develop a better product than your competitors already did. But it is an uneasy task to make your clients realize that your product is great and so they cannot substitute it with any other, which already exists in the particular market. But what if a high market competition will work in your favor? Try to make a deep analysis of the products offered by your competitors, evaluating their weak and strong sides, and investigating the features that make these products needed. Fortunately, a vast array of analytical software may come in handy – Ahrefs, Similar Web, Quantcast, App Follow, and others. With these online analytical tools, you will be able to generate such data as monthly traffic and the ranking positions of an application or a web-product of your competitors, track geographic locations of their consumers, etc.

Step 4. User-friendly design

The design process takes an important place in MVP development. The rewarding design for MVP is the one created from the users' perspective and enhances proper usability, simple accessibility, and easy "user – product" interaction.

Step 5. The list of features and the user stories

Let's imagine that you have tons of brilliant ideas about new app development and so there are numerous features you would like to embed into your software product. But you cannot afford to develop all of them at once. How to investigate which functionality should you build first and how many features are enough to release your MVP? One of the most efficient methods for that is to define and structure the functionality in the form of the user stories. A user story is a quick story, which describes a process or series of steps from the user's perspective – about how he uses the product and how he gets value from it. User stories help us to see the total scope of the MVP project and understand the features we need to develop in order to deliver the full value to the user. There are numerous examples of the user stories so let's consider a couple of examples:

  • User Story 1: A user downloads and launches our app, starts checking payment transactions from suppliers, and generates reports on monthly expenses and revenues.
  • User Story 2: A user downloads our app and checks the most and the least profitable products, and timeframes for inventory assets delivery.
Step 6: Building and testing your MVP

The complexion of the previous steps forms a solid background for minimum viable product development. After the MVP has been created, it has to be checked by the quality assurance specialists to make sure that its quality is no lower than a final product. When built and launched, MVP is ready to be tested by the customers to get their honest feedback.

Supply chain and inventory management operations cannot be neglected by the modern enterprise willing to optimize and rationally spend its resources to accomplish an efficient outcome strategy in the long run. The creation of software products for the supply chain industry can help companies rationalize their expenses and obtain financial revenues. Development of minimum viable product can help implement the right solutions for supply chain and inventory management, investigate the needs and preferences of the customers, and change the whole industry by evolving digital technologies.