MVP Development for Privacy Management Client: How We Scoped The Project and Delivered a Pilot in 45 Days

Making and testing a minimum viable product (MVP) is the best way to get actionable feedback on your development idea.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran

08/30/2022

MVPs don’t need to be perfect or have absolutely all the functionalities that you envision for the final product. But they should test the core features of your software. 

Many startups fail at balancing what they want to achieve with an MVP and what they need to build in order to validate that there is a viable and profitable business behind their idea. Especially if they don’t have an experienced team guiding them in the process. 

We’ve been working for this client for the past nine months. In the beginning, they were struggling to narrow down the scope of their new product. They had a product idea, had done the market research, and raised funds. They were ready to work on their early-stage MVP development right away. That’s when we came in. From the first month we managed to:

  • Work in their timezone

  • Be involved in their daily standups, scrum meetings, and retrospectives

  • Help them narrow down their MVP development scope 

  • Define and set up their software architecture

  • Develop a pilot of their product 

  • Augment their product development team by one additional developer

  • Do AWS development using our background and experience

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you.

Table of contents

The client: Closing the gap between privacy policies and developers

Working with this client has been great because the SaaS tool we’re building together will eventually help all programmers. We’ll keep working with this company to further develop the platform and eventually turn it into an enterprise software solution. 

This client aims to shorten the gap between security clauses in policies by making it digestible for developers to incorporate security and privacy requirements into their software without hassle.

The NaNLABS-client meet-cute

This startup had a technical team of two software engineers. A full-time developer working in-house and a technical advisor. They were both highly experienced with broad technical knowledge, but weren’t familiar with modern tools like AWS and balancing architecture and software delivery to build an MVP in 45 days. 

That’s why they needed to find a software development company that could do full-stack development and work on the front-end of their MVP. They also needed someone who was AWS-savvy and could code a ReactJS rich user experience. 

One of their developers was working with NaNLABS on a different company and recommended us as suitable candidates for this project. They had already met with another software development agency that was based in their city but weren’t convinced by the agency’s pitch. The agency was very responsible and knowledgeable but wanted to work on the product development process on their own. Our client didn’t want to see their MVP development as a black box. 

That’s when they met NaNLABS. We had a call, listened to their needs, and came up with some insights and suggestions. They mentioned later on that they loved how we came up with ideas from day one and mentioned that we wanted to be involved in their sprint planning, daily standups, and retrospectives.

The brief: Scoping out a minimum viable product (MVP)

This client had already raised money to develop the MVP. Once NaNLABS brought in a principal engineer to collaborate with their technical team, they were ready to dive right into the development process. They asked us to:

Define the scope of their software

This client had an ambitious goal, they wanted to develop an MVP that supported enterprise clients in 45 days. To come up with version one before the pressing deadline, we had to combine our consultancy services with our MVP development experience. We were able to help them understand the trade-offs they needed to make for us to come up with a robust MVP in a short timeframe.

We’re not code monkeys who will write apps if the scope, expectations, or tools aren’t right, especially when we work in MVP development for our clients. It‘s important that they understand the implications of their requests to help them improve prioritization. 

Build a roadmap for the different product versions

They knew there was a process to building MVPs and that there were development stages. They needed our help building this map and aligning expectations on how much work was left to do and how long it will take to turn this MVP into an enterprise application software (EAS).

Design the software architecture and user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)

This product was just an idea, there wasn’t a single line of code written and some features weren’t yet defined. They needed the NaNLABS team to design the software architecture for building a successful MVP. The great thing about working on greenfield projects is that we’re responsible for setting the building blocks of the software. That means we can make it clean, cohesive, and tidy to simplify further development.

In regards to UI/UX, they had preliminary mockup designs but needed us to work with a partner agency to come up with the MVP final version. 

Develop and release a pilot MVP in 45 days

Their team of programmers was going to develop the back-end, while at NaNLABS, we needed to work on the front-end using React and hosting it on the AWS cloud to meet the agreed time to market. They needed to have a pilot in 45 days to get proof of concept and test it with real users that fit their target audience.

The challenges: Managing enterprise engineering expectations and requirements 

Every project comes with attained challenges. When working on MVPs that are still in preliminary stages these difficulties can be quite demanding for both the business and the development team.

Client-facing challenges

Our client was facing four main challenges:

  • They had a product launch deadline that they wanted to meet.

  • It was important to them that the MVP contained the complete set of features they envisioned for the final product. But didn’t have all the features listed or documented.

  • Identifying how many people they would need now and in the future was crucial to their success.

  • Working with an agency in a different time zone worried them.

NaNLABS-facing challenges

Providing support to our client to overcome those barriers was our biggest challenge. As a result, the NaNLABS team faced these difficulties: 

  • The founders of this startup had a lot of experience working in enterprises. But to work fast and deliver high-quality software, we needed to use modern tools like AWS Amplify. Using that tool involved some explanation of the benefits for better experience and efficiency.

  • Coming up with the SaaS tool user experience, and user interface design by working alongside a partner design agency. 

  • Narrowing the scope of the product concept to build an MVP that could test product-market fit and build the development roadmap. 

  • Developing a functional pilot in a month and a half without building up technical debt.

  • Bringing more people on board as soon as the timeline and requirements were clearer.

  • Defining all the features as we were working on the code.

  • Managing their enterprise engineering and MVP expectations to something more realistic. 

  • Learning how to use new tools and their systems and keeping a growth mindset while working at full speed.

"
“At NaNLABS we usually help clients to define their scope. It’s likely for clients that are working on MVPs to believe everything is possible, and that’s not true. When that happens, we do a complexity analysis to alert them if they want to do something that will alter the project deadline. We’ll also advise them on a better alternative if possible," —Matias Álvarez Duran, Co-founder and Senior Engineer Manager at NaNLABS.

The solution: Finishing the MVP development process  

Working with this client has been a very enjoyable experience. We’re working on a future product that we believe will solve customer pain points and needs and will help developers perform better at their jobs. Up to this point, we’ve come up with the following solutions:

  1. Defined clear communication guidelines. What makes NaNLABS different from other software agencies, is that we focus on having great communication with our client and their team. This way, we guarantee we’re available when they need us and merge with their culture by participating in their Agile methodology ceremonies. 

  2. Got very involved in the scoping stage. Our principal developer jumped in providing expert knowledge to define the scope of this pilot. We managed to deliver a sound product that was usable by the end-user, but at the same time be ready in 45 days. 

  3. Used Agile tools like AWS Amplify (build full-stack apps back-ends in less time), AppSync (GraphQL server-side API), DynamoDB (GraphQL server-side API), and Cognito. We didn’t have a lot of time to build a functional pilot. These tools helped us speed up the development process. Since the client was going to host their product in the AWS cloud, Amplify was a perfect choice. We used AppSync and DynamoDB to have a GraphQL server connected to a database without effort. Lastly, we used Cognito for user and authentication flows. 

  4. Incorporated Agile technical practices like Continuous integration and continuous delivery. We had a CI/CD setup by default to ensure we always had production-ready code integrated into our code repository. 

  5. Defined the next steps. Our team needs to plan and prepare for version two of their product. To do so, we meet with crucial stakeholders to define new product features and functionality that we need to add or improve. In the next version, we’ll work on improving security and multi-tenancy to serve different clients. 

  6. Implemented an Agile mindset. We believe that we helped the founders switch mindsets from enterprise to startup work, especially in terms of planning and scoping the app. They are highly tech-savvy and know the methodologies, but since they had experience working at bigger companies, the decision-making process would often be delayed.

The results: What happens after the minimum viable product development

Now that they’ve launched a first version of the product and are getting user feedback, we need to wait to get metrics such as NPS, product viability, new features to be added, and future app development timings. Up to this date, these are some of the results we’ve come up with: 

  • Delivered a functional pilot in 45 days.

  • Developed an app fast, with high technical quality, scalable, and with low technical debt. 

  • Learned and implemented almost all AWS while having people from the team learn how to use Amplify from scratch.

  • Built a long-term relationship with the client. Going from an MVP development service to an augmented team modality. 

This particular client was very impressed with our AWS knowledge. As we grow, we've learned about AWS's many services since 80-90% of our digital projects are built in AWS. Amazon Web Services give you the freedom of building apps and hosting them on a secured cloud—whereas before you needed a mainstream or your own servers. Also, AWS is elastic, which means you only pay for the server if you're using it. If you don't have any users, they won't charge you. That makes the development costs go down on long processes and complex algorithms.

If you’re an entrepreneur that needs to work on your MVP and want to include AWS development, we can help you map out the scope, develop your software product, and launch every version from MVP to EAS.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you.

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