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Launching The FinServices Mobile App MVP: Tight Deadlines and Lessons Learned

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#Development 05 june 2024
  • Dmitry Akhmetov

    CBDO NAM, MENA

In 2021, FinServices, a prominent exchange holding in Central and Eastern Europe, was at a crossroads. They had a robust financial service, serving their users only through a website. This limited their reach and potential to scale. Recognizing the need to evolve, they planned on developing a mobile app to cater to their expanding user base. However, there was a catch—they lacked an in-house development team. Not worried by the challenge ahead, FinServices approached Imaga with the request to create a mobile app within an ambitious deadline of just five months.
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1- First and foremost, finding the right team.
When working on a project, your team is the first detail you should consider. You have a few options:

  • In-house team: This option relies on your existing employees. If you have the right expertise and number of specialists, this is an option you can consider for your project.
  • Outsourced team: This implies hiring outside resources to help you develop your project as needed. These could include freelancers or full-cycle development agencies.
  • A combined team: This option provides the best of both worlds, where you and your team would work with outside professionals to turn your concept into a market-ready product.

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FinServices decided to go with their in-house team and Imaga’s development resources to realize their vision.
“The first hurdle we encountered was assembling a capable team. We considered various options, including in-house, outsourced, and a combined team approach. Opting for the latter, we leveraged in-house expertise while utilizing Imaga’s developers and specialists. This collaborative effort ensured a diverse skill set and streamlined project execution,” stated Madina Abaeva, FinServices’ Product Manager.
2- Choosing the proper development path
Imaga undertook the development of a sophisticated financial marketplace, an ambitious task considering our deadline. We assembled a team of experienced experts and conducted a thorough competitor analysis. Initially, to meet the 5-month deadline, we opted for cross-platform development for the mobile application launch. However, after numerous discussions with financial service experts, we recognized the limitations involved with this approach and opted for native development, which would provide enhanced scalability and long-term viability.
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To ensure future scalability and security, we expanded our scope of work, utilizing Swift UI for iOS and Compose for Android, alongside Java for backend development. This strategic selection aimed to accommodate potential high volumes and uphold robust security measures crucial for handling sensitive financial data. Given the nature of our platform and its interaction with customer data, robust security protocols such as KYC procedures were necessary. Our focus on prototyping and research underscored the initial steps in the development process, laying a solid foundation for upcoming phases.
3- Prototyping and research
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The process remained relatively straightforward at this stage. We evaluated our hypotheses, identified the MVP’s areas for improvement, and implemented changes before conducting the second round of interviews. Typically, 2-3 rounds of interviews are enough to test our UI ideas thoroughly. Insights gained from these interviews proved valuable, helping us refine the MVP and understand FinServices’ clients' future preferences. We cataloged the ideas generated and incorporated them into our backlog, with most of these features launched in later iterations.
4- Continuously improving the MVP
Engaging with users and conducting market research is critical to ongoing research efforts. The initial research phase provides valuable insights by allowing us to test early versions of the app and analyze user interactions to identify areas of difficulty, preferences, and engagement points. Subsequent conversations with users clarify gaps or issues, such as UX challenges or service comprehension. This iterative process extends beyond product release, as our pre-MVP launch activities demonstrated. These insights also guide the product’s roadmap, often leading to unexpected discoveries and emphasizing the importance of user feedback in prioritizing features and products. We can achieve sustainable product growth with iterative cycles of action, rapid experimentation, and continuous refinement.
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5- Adopting a product-centric approach
Since the start, our focus has been the systematic development of the FinServices MVP, aiming for incremental improvements with each sprint to ensure continuous progress. Initially, we centered the app around a single product—specifically car insurance—chosen for its simplicity. Despite its basic features, launching the MVP early allowed us to gather valuable feedback from real users. Over the period of two years, we regularly updated the app every two weeks, introducing new features and enhancements. Throughout this process, we relied on data-driven insights, utilizing a dedicated product analytics platform directly integrated into the app. Even during the MVP phase, we formed hypotheses, tested them, and analyzed user behavior within the app. Additionally, we strategically included banners promoting other products within the app interface to better understand user interactions and preferences, guiding our ongoing development efforts.
TL;DR: Advice to take your MVP development to the next level
To wrap things up, our CBDO, Dmitry Akhmetov, and CPO of Mobile Product, Madina Abaeva, have prepared a checklist to refer to when working with your MVP. Here are the essentials you should keep in mind that will transform your Minimum Viable Product into a Minimum Lovable Product, adding that extra spice for the potential to make users fall in love with it.
  1. Find the right team: Your team lies at the heart of everything. With the right internal expertise, you can assemble an entirely in-house team. Alternatively, you can opt for a blended approach, where the client's management team collaborates with a third-party vendor managed by the client. The third option involves outsourcing the entire project and relying solely on the vendor for results. However, this can be risky, particularly for new product development.
  2. Test prototype on real users: Testing your product on users during its early stages is crucial for identifying areas of difficulty, understanding user priorities, addressing usability issues, and ensuring clarity about your service. This process should be ongoing, extending even after the product's release. Initially, consider releasing the product to a small relevant audience to minimize potential issues before a full public launch.
  3. Adapt a product-centric approach: Right from the beginning, embrace a product-centric approach. Consider launching your MVP with just one feature, even if your website offers a broader range, allowing for quick customer feedback incorporation through bi-weekly iterative updates introducing new features and fixes regularly. Additionally, employing a data-driven strategy, such as tools like Amplitude, offers valuable insights. Even in the MVP stage, ensure access to data for hypothesis testing and informed decision-making.
  4. Striking the perfect balance between UX & UI: When you’re working within tight deadlines, it becomes crucial to strike the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality. On one hand, you want to create an interface that looks good and is visually appealing. On the other hand, the design can’t interfere with the user’s ability to easily navigate and efficiently complete tasks. Understand your user’s needs through research and testing to determine what your audience wants out of your product.
  5. Ask for feedback within the app: A product release is an ongoing process that extends beyond the initial launch. Maintaining communication with your users is essential. Incorporate in-app feedback collection to minimize negative reviews on platforms like the App Store and Google Play Store.

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