How to Effectively Communicate Your MVP Requirements to a Development Team

Effectively convey MVP requirements to developers, and find tips for outsourcing and clear communication.

Apr 28, 2023

According to Deloitte's Global Outsourcing Report for 2022, 50% of executives consider Talent Acquisition the top internal challenge in achieving strategic goals. The challenges to building a strong internal team are complex. Talent is hard to find, and the unstable market makes it difficult for startups to hire permanent employees.

That's why many companies now frequently choose to outsource MVP development. When you choose the right outsourcing team, you gain access to specialized expertise and speed up your time to market while keeping costs down. 

But communicating your Minimum Viable Products (MVP) requirements to an external team might be more challenging than to an internal one. The external development team is not involved in your company's day-to-day activities and might miss including critical elements in the product's first iteration. 

The solution to this problem is two-fold:

  1. Hire the right team in the first place

  2. Know precisely what an MVP is and how to communicate its specs in terms the development team will understand. 

Make sure you understand the MVP concept

The MVP concept hasn't been around for long. It was popularized by author and entrepreneur Eric Ries, who wrote the book The Lean Startup. 

A minimum viable product goes against the grain of what we once used to consider "complete software." It's not a full package of software brimming with features; it's a product with the minimum features that still make it viable in the market. 

The development team you choose should know exactly what an MVP consists of, but it's a lot easier to communicate your requirements if you also have a thorough grasp of it. 

To communicate your MVP requirements clearly, do your homework on the following: 

  1. Identify the problem your product intends to solve. 

  2. Define user personas so you can design the product around what they expect. For example, Gen Z users might expect different features and functions from Gen X. 

  3. List the essential features necessary to solve the problem, then prioritize those features. 

If you approach the development team with the above, communicating your needs will be much easier. 

After that, the dev team can start preparing functional specs that outline how each feature works and how it will be implemented. This step involves some programming work, so you might want to leave it mostly to the dev team. 

Choose the right development team

Effectively communicating MVP requirements to a dev team that isn't suited to the job is nearly impossible. The obvious factors that need to be considered when looking for an external team are:

  • The team's fluency in your language. It's not enough that only the team lead speaks your language. 

  • Time-zone differences. This can be a significant challenge. 

  • Evidence of competence, including credible testimonials. 

The not-so-obvious factors to consider are: 

  • Evaluating their communication skills. 

  • Assessing their technical skill. 

The good news is that you'll get a pretty good idea of these elements by working with them for just a few weeks. Make a shortlist of companies and hire each one on a trial basis. Working with them for a few weeks should give you enough additional feedback to make a call on how good their comm skills and technical expertise are. 

Best practices for communicating MVP requirements to a development team

Here are some best practices that we've found work well with our clients at Browserbite:

Create a requirements document

It's easier for programmers to work from written instructions than verbal ones. Programming is a time-intensive task, and it's easy to "get lost in the code" and mistakenly ignore important features if everything isn't written down. 

When you create your requirements document, make sure to separate it into:

  • Functional requirements

  • Non-functional requirements

At the MVP stage, programmers will prioritize functional requirements, although it's also important to consider non-functional elements such as app design. Users have come to expect a certain sleekness in their apps. 

Create clear channels of communication

Choose the right communication tools like Slack, email, or video conferencing. Set up a schedule for progress reports so you're always in the loop. 

Avoid micromanaging

At one stage, you should hand over the reins to the company you hired and let them get on with their jobs. If you did your homework, and the company seems to be getting on with the show, give them more freedom and check in on them less frequently. If something suddenly goes wrong, you can always re-implement more regular meetings. 

But give the team time to do its job once you've covered all bases. They'll pick up momentum and get the product to you faster. 

Use visual aids

Visual aids enhance clarity. If you've hired a separate design team to design your product, bring the wireframes and prototypes to meetings with the dev team to improve clarity on the specifications. 

Most importantly: A spirit of cooperation

We've worked on many MVPs at Browserbite, and the most important element in communicating MVP requirements is a mutual spirit of cooperation. Your outsourcing team needs to be professional and know what it's doing. But once that's out of the way, the best way forward is to work together to achieve a common goal. Not only is it effective, it can also be a lot of fun. 

To learn more about how Browserbite can help you develop your MVP, contact us for a free discovery call.