It wasn’t long ago that software was a static thing. Businesses that wanted a particular software package had to purchase a physical copy and as many licenses as there were users on site. Then they had to download updates and security patches in the endless pursuit of maintaining security. But today, all of that is a thing of the past.
That’s because software as a service (SaaS) is now the gold standard for business software procurement. Now, businesses have access to every conceivable software tool, on-demand, whenever they want it. And as a result, the B2B SaaS industry has exploded – it’s expected to be worth an estimated $623 billion per year by 2023.
It’s no surprise, then, that there’s also been an explosion in B2B SaaS startups looking to capture a slice of the market. But creating a successful B2B SaaS product isn’t easy. There are several stages of development that have to take place before that can happen. And the first is to build a minimum viable product (MVP).
Here’s an overview of the process of building a B2B SaaS MVP. We’ll discuss what an MVP is, how to get from idea to first launch, and what to do after launch. Let’s dive in.
What is an MVP?
In software development terms, an MVP is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the first version of a piece of software or SaaS platform with enough features to attract paying customers. An MVP is the first step in the evolution of a product and allows its developers to collect enough user feedback to inform further refinements and features.
A SaaS MVP also serves as a proof-of-concept that establishes whether a startup’s product idea is worth continuing to develop. This is why most SaaS MVPs focus on a single core innovation that the target market should care about. And if they don’t, it’s a sure signal that further development isn’t advisable.
The Steps to Build a B2B SaaS MVP
Transforming a software idea into a functioning MVP is a multistep process. It’s not as straightforward as just describing an idea to a developer and sending them off to work. And getting the preparatory steps wrong can doom an otherwise viable product. Here’s where to start and how to proceed from there.
1. Define the Business Problem You’re Trying to Solve
To create an MVP that will test a B2B SaaS idea, the first thing to do is to sit down and define the exact problem your product aims to solve. And it’s necessary to be specific. For example, you don’t want your definition to be: “Small businesses struggle to keep accurate accounting records”. That’s far too generalized.
What you want is something more like: “Small businesses struggle to record employee expenditures, leading to inaccurate accounting records.” In the far future, you may end up building a SaaS platform that can handle every aspect of small business accounting. But first, you need to distill your idea down to its most innovative and game-changing solution. This will become the core of what your MVP will try to provide.
2. Find the Simplest Possible Solution to the Problem
To create a winning MVP, simplicity is essential. So the next step is to seek the simplest possible solution to the problem you defined in step one. A good place to start is to conduct some market research and ask your target customers to describe the problems they face in great detail. In general, you’ll want to know:
- How often the problem affects their work
- The parts of their existing workflow that create challenges
- How likely they’d be to adopt a solution that solves those challenges
- The other business processes that intersect with the problematic process
- How much a solution to the problem might be worth to them
In the best case, you should find some similarities in the answers you receive. And that will point the way to the functionality to include in your MVP. If you provide a useful solution, users will be more than happy to wait for additional features and refinements.
3. Create a User Flow and Basic Features
Even though it’s not necessary to create a polished product for your MVP, it’s important to make sure it solves the target problem without causing additional struggles for users. That’s why the next step is to map out how the user flow of your MVP will work.
To do this, all you need to do is create a flowchart explaining how a potential user gets from logging in to your MVP all the way to their task completion. Ideally, you want there to be as few steps as possible involved. This will also serve as a guide to what features you must include to support each step. Remember the key to an MVP is simplicity – both for your development and for the customers using the product.
4. Build your MVP
At this point, it’s time to hire a team of developers to turn your MVP into a reality. You can opt to do this with an in-house team or by hiring a SaaS development agency. There are pros and cons to each approach.
In-House Development Pros & Cons
- Total transparency in all development processes
- The ability to expand and contract your team at will
- The ability to make unlimited changes to your MVP
- Higher labor overhead
- Inexperience contributing to delays
- Possible difficulty attracting and retaining needed talent
SaaS Development Agency Pros & Cons
- They’re a turnkey solution
- Access to experienced developers
- Shorter development times
- Limits on quantity and frequency of changes
- The development process happens offsite
- Need for stronger IP protection measures
In general, going with an agency is the simplest approach for a startup, because it cuts down on the work they’ll need to do to complete an MVP. Plus, if you’re working with a reputable agency, they’ll already have processes in place that reduce or eliminate many of the cons listed above.
5. Launch Your MVP, Collect Feedback, Iterate
Once you have an MVP that solves the problem you’ve identified, it’s time to launch it. You may wish to contact the individuals and businesses that participated in your research efforts to let them know about your MVP. Since you already know that they have the problem you’re trying to solve, they’ll be likely to become your first customers.
Then, you need to start collecting feedback from your early users. Your goal is to find out what they like and dislike about your MVP, as well as any changes they’d like to see made to it. This feedback will guide the further development of your product moving forward. It will also give you a good idea of how well your MVP has met its initial goals.
Based on the feedback you collect, you can then begin to iterate your MVP to add features and refinements. As you do this, you may also want to begin marketing your new product to a wider audience. If you succeed, you will create an even larger feedback loop that will help you to grow your new B2B SaaS solution into an industry leader.
The Bottom Line
The B2B SaaS industry offers plenty of opportunities for innovative people and startups to succeed. But the road to success always starts with creating a winning MVP. Now that you know how it’s done, all you need to do is come up with a solution that businesses will be willing to pay for. And by following the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to a successful product launch.