How to decide what features to include in your SaaS MVP

The process of defining the features included in your SaaS solution’s minimum viable product (MVP) includes gaining consensus on the problem that needs to be solved and establishing clear desired outcomes.

Identify the business needs to gain clarity.

At Geekbears, we’ve found that our clients generally have a solid understanding of their SaaS product’s business needs, but just because there’s clarity doesn’t mean that assumptions shouldn’t be validated through user experience (UX) research.

There are two methods that companies can leverage in order to identify business needs and validate the investment of building their SaaS MVP. One option is to validate the new product idea by gaining the feedback of potential users. The advantage of taking this approach is that you may also generate insights into what features would be most beneficial to users.

Alternatively, you can seek out existing products that align with the idea, but that need to evolve due to identified user pain points or business opportunities.

Map the opportunities to help with prioritization.

To map the opportunities, you need to identify the user and their needs. This can be done by creating a user persona where you consider their pain points, goals, motivations, and functional and emotional needs. As a supplement or substitute to that step, you can also engage in UX research exercises like developing user journeys or user cases. These methods will help you gain an understanding of the design and functional opportunities of the product.

Expand on the steps above by writing out the needs, opportunities and ideas to develop an affinity diagram, which is the exercise of grouping the different insights into bigger categories. By grouping aspects of the product together, you’ll determine where the most significant opportunities lie.

Use feature-focused opportunity statements with set goals.

Using opportunity statements, which outline a problem that needs to be solved in conjunction with a concrete goal, can help you determine what features and functionality are required. For example, a startup that’s developing a marketplace application would likely be looking for a solution that helps cut down on payment processing time. An opportunity statement for that startup could read as: “”Reduce payment processing time by 20 percent.”” This then identifies the need to develop features and make strategic decisions to decrease payment processing time.

A vital part of any MVP that’s launched is the sign-up process, and all businesses are going to be looking at solving the problem of getting more users to sign up for their service. Opportunity statements related to this challenge could read as: “”Reduce the number of form fields required while signing up to decrease sign-up abandonment by 25 percent.””

Give your team a benchmark to work towards by including a measurable goal when defining features and functionality. With clear direction, it also allows your in-house team or software development agency to optimize as needed.

Build the product roadmap by breaking down the opportunities.

Assessing the opportunities will also help you build out a thoughtful product roadmap. Your MVP’s product roadmap should include a discovery phase, the prioritization of features, the development of low-fidelity wireframes and the creation of high-fidelity versions of each screen.

During the discovery phase, you should define your product’s user personas and UX benchmarking. User personas represent the people who will engage with your product and determine their needs based on research and data. UX benchmarking allows you to evaluate your SaaS product’s user experience by comparing metrics against a relevant standard. Additional research deliverables you can consider leveraging include user interviews, diary studies, surveys, field studies, focus groups, stakeholder interviews, problem-framing workshops, service blueprints and high-level wireframes.

Once the MVP’s features have been determined, they should then be grouped into primary, secondary and tertiary buckets. Categorize the features based on the goals of the product. This exercise allows you to prioritize features by clearly identifying what main elements are required in order for the product to do its job. At Geekbears, we then work with our client to make a final decision on the main features for the MVP.

Finally, with a strategic product roadmap in place, we proceed to work on the rest of the UX/UI process, which includes low-fidelity wireframe iterations and high-fidelity comps of the SaaS product’s screens to further define the design and functionality of the product’s features.

Use a prioritization matrix to define the key features of your MVP.

When focused on feature prioritization, the main question you want to answer is: “”What will the users need to do to complete the main task or service that our product offers?”” Looking at your MVP through this lens will ensure that you’re able to identify and prioritize the features that are needed so the product can perform its most necessary functions.

From there, you can determine which secondary features could be considered, but again, those selected should support the main user experience. Tertiary features aren’t generally included in MVPs, as they tend to focus on additional, but less essential user needs.

At Geekbears, we tend to break out our prioritization matrix by the product’s dashboards, particularly if the product has different functions for different users, highlighting the various sections, the number of screens and the features included. We then go through the features and prioritize them into primary, secondary, or tertiary categories. From there, we’re able to paint a clear picture of what elements need to be present in the MVP.

The process of defining your MVP roadmap is a crucial step that you will need to complete before choosing your MVP’s features, as this process will lay the groundwork for helping you make strategic and thoughtful decisions.

After you’ve identified the most important features to include in your MVP, you’ll want to ensure that you’re making the right investment by validating your product with these nine quick and cost-effective ideash. Many of those same steps can also be used to aid in the launch of your company’s MVP. It’s essential to have a plan for launching your product, as you’ll want to get it to market as fast as possible to gain valuable insights into how the product should iterate and expand.

At Geekbears, we work closely with innovators to define and develop top-notch initial products through research and insights. The core of our process centers around a complete understanding of the product requirements, user needs and your business objectives. This approach has led to success time and time again — our software development agency has helped clients launch more than 100 applications and raise millions of dollars.