It’s hard to believe that less than a decade ago people had to buy and install all the software they needed on their personal computers. The application disks often got lost or ruined. And if there was a need to update a program, it often required buying a new disk.
Today we don’t have these struggles anymore. SaaS products changed the way we use the software. According to forecasts, the SaaS market is expected to reach $623 billion by 2023. That means the annual growth rate will reach 18%.
It seems like it’s the best time to create an MVP for SaaS. Wonder how to start? In this article, we’ll tell you more about the core steps and cost to make an MVP for SaaS.
What is an MVP For SaaS?
A minimum viable product (MVP) in SaaS is an early version of a product that has only the core features, but still offers enough value to customers.
An MVP development for SaaS can be helpful in regards to idea validation, rapid product launch, concept representation, and primary cost reduction. After this is done, the startup is ready for further design and development, upgrades, and any necessary pivoting.
Below are listed key MVP benefits for SaaS startups.
Any startup entrepreneur can get consumed by their product idea, especially at the initial stages, and wants to get a final product right away. However, to have only an idea is never enough; building a minimally viable SaaS product helps to validate an idea: determine whether it solves customer problems, fits the market, or has all the required features to function.
Rapid Product Launch
One of the distinguishing features of an MVP is the speed of development since such a product has only the core functionality and thus takes much less time to develop and launch.
How to create a SaaS MVP on a budget? This is one of the most popular questions asked during any startup development.
An MVP allows the SaaS startup owners to develop only the core functionality on a smaller budget. Later on, the money they save thanks to the savings from a SaaS MVP can be used for further development and startup scaling; but only after the product idea is validated and has received positive customer feedback.
Lots of startups may face some challenges while analyzing their product ideas. An MVP is a perfect way to test an idea and to get customer feedback. When implementing just the core features, vendors spend less time and money. In return, they receive a clear understanding of what exactly their users need, very quickly.
SaaS Market Overview
What is Software-As-A-Service
SaaS, or Software as a Service, is a type of software licensing model in which customers can use various kinds of software online, without having to install and maintain it on personal computers. The SaaS software projects are usually distributed under a subscription model or delivered for free.
What exactly is SaaS software? Well, there are several common application types.
Software-As-A-Service Market Overview
The global SaaS market grew significantly during the past decade. In 2019, it reached $141 billion, which is $17 billion higher than the year before.
As for the global SaaS market spread, among the key regions that dominate the SaaS market are North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region.
The Future of the SaaS Market
The global SaaS market is expected to grow from $131 billion in 2018 to $270 billion by 2026. That means that the total market of SaaS will grow more than 21% during the next few years.
Source: KBV Research
It is also predicted that in the future, SaaS will be more connected to such technologies as artificial intelligence and machine learning within their products.
More people prefer using cloud technologies instead of installing them on their personal computers. The future of SaaS will dramatically change how we do business.
Core Steps To Build a SaaS MVP
Any product development process consists of core steps that should be taken. A SaaS MVP is no exception.
Doing Competitive Research
Competitive research helps to discover whether your SaaS idea is worth implementing.
Yes, sometimes different minds may think alike; there’s always a chance that other startups have already tried to solve the problems you are trying to solve now.
At this point, thorough competitive research helps to analyze the SaaS market, and your direct and indirect competitors.
Understanding Customer Pain Points
Before product development starts, make sure you understand the problems of your customers that your SaaS product is going to solve.
To start, we’d recommend creating a detailed customer persona. This should give a better understanding of who your users are, what their challenges are, and which features may be the best solution to these challenges.
Choosing a Business Model
Before the development process starts, it’s crucial to determine the monetization strategy you’re going to follow.
For example, there are such ways to monetize an SaaS project such as paid features, advertisement, or partnerships.
Moreover, 79% of SaaS companies that offer a free trial or freemium product reach out to users during their first month as a trial period.
Defining And Prioritizing the Core Features
When you start a new product from scratch, there’s no time to implement every desired feature, no matter how cool they are.
An MVP should have only the core features it requires for launching. Choose the most important ones, prioritize, and start developing them.
Developing a Product Roadmap
A roadmap shows the major steps of product development. It is dedicated to helping the team to estimate and plan the development process. This document shows the core stages of the product development process and can be used as a progress checker.
Starting SaaS MVP Development
Once the core features are determined and the roadmap is created, it is time to start developing an SaaS MVP. When developing an SaaS MVP, we advise not to spend too much time polishing your functionality or adding new features; there’s always a risk that your competitors will launch earlier than you.
The best idea is to provide a product with a short development cycle and launch as fast as possible, so you can be the first on the market.
Gathering Customers’ Feedback
MVP development doesn’t stop once the product is launched. The next step here is testing your ideas by getting and analyzing customer feedback.
At this stage, it is important to ask users about what they like or dislike about the product, what features they use the most, or any functionality that they would like to be added.
The most popular methods of gathering feedback are:
- Usability tests
- Email contact forms
- Social media
- Exploratory customer interviews
- Customer surveys
- Analytic metrics
Top 4 SaaS MVP Examples
The modern market has lots of software as a service (SaaS) examples, including such services as Google, IBM, Workday, Microsoft, SAP SE, Fujitsu, Oracle Corporation, Salesforce, ADP, etc. Let’s take a closer look and review the most popular ones.
At its startup stage, IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) began as a computing, tabulating, and recording company.
Since the 1800s, the company has grown rapidly. Today, it provides users with such services as cloud computing, artificial intelligence services, commerce, data and analytics, IoT, etc.
The story of the Oracle Corporation started in 1977. Back then, it was a small startup that was created as a software development company. Over the years, the company grew from a small MVP to a multinational computer technology corporation.
Now, the company offers database software and technology services, cloud infrastructure and software products for enterprises.
Oracle Corporation Homepage
Microsoft Corporation was founded back in 1975 as a company that developed computer software.
Today, Microsoft products include operating systems for personal computers, servers, productivity, and business solution applications.
Microsoft Corporation Homepage
Initially, Fujitsu was established in 1935 as a company that manufactured Japan’s first computers.
Today, Fujitsu provides such services as applications, virtualization services, network management and data centers.
How Much Does SaaS MVP Development Cost?
How much does a SaaS MVP cost? Any product development cost depends on development price factors such as the product complexity, tech stack, team size and seniority, and even location. In this section, we will take a closer look at all of them in detail.
Factors that influence the cost of SaaS MVP development:
Team Seniority And Size
How many people should a team include? That is a tough question to answer if you don’t know the details of the future SaaS MVP. However, the more experienced your people are, the higher the cost to develop a minimum viable product for SaaS.
For an SaaS MVP product, we’d recommend choosing technologies and tools that are easy to use, scalable and popular.
For example, programming technologies such as Ruby, Ruby on Rails, PHP and Python are commonly used for rapid MVP development.
It is crucial to pay attention to the complexity of features. If the functionality is too complex, there are no chances of a fast and smooth development process.
The advice is: focus on the core functionality and implement those features that a SaaS MVP cannot survive without. There’s no need to implement extra functionality when it’s a startup development process.
Product development prices vary in accordance with the team’s location. For example, if you are located in one of the “expensive destinations” (North America, Western Europe), hiring developers may be a bit costly.
However, outsourcing often happens to be a budget-friendly solution. As an example, here’s a brief comparison of costs for product development in the most popular offshore destinations worldwide:
- Asia. In Asia, product development agencies’ rates start at $25 per, according to Clutch and Upwork.
- Latin America. Latin America’s product development agencies’ rates range from $25-$100 per hour.
- Eastern Europe. Eastern European countries’ rates start from $25 per hour. For example, Sloboda Studio is located in this region and costs $25-$50 per hour.
Therefore, a simple custom MVP will cost around $30,000, and have only the key features. More complex versions of the product MVP will require additional costs.
Property Management System
Property Management System is a real estate company that owns multiple residential and vacation properties. With the growth in popularity of online booking systems, issues with accommodations management have grown, and so our client required business automation.
The goal was to automate multiple property management processes, centralize data storage, and create a communication channel for tenants. To help our client with achieving these goals, Sloboda Studio implemented the following features:
- Online Leases
- Accounting & Reporting
- Maintenance Request Tracking
- Channel Manager
- Properties Posting
As a result, Sloboda Studio helped the client to create a property management system from scratch. After the product launch, our client received lots of positive feedback and experienced a higher customer conversion rate.
Real Estate CRM
Real Estate CRM is a real estate agency that helps customers to buy and sell residential properties. The company had grown and now needed centralized data management software. Therefore, our client needed to organize the company’s data and create a CRM that is tailored to their internal business processes.
During the Real Estate CRM development process, we implemented such features as:
- Communication Page
- Contact Groups
As a result, we helped our client with the automation of the work processes by creating a custom real estate CRM from scratch. Also, the system helped our client to increase sales and productivity.
There are rarely such cases when a product skips an MVP stage. Such SaaS giants as IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Fujitsu and Google also started with a minimum viable product. These are great examples of how a company can grow an idea into a huge software-as-a-service application.
Moreover, it is a great time to create a SaaS startup: in August 2020 alone, nearly 130 SaaS companies were listed on SaaSHub (a leading SaaS business directory), which proves the SaaS market continues to grow.
SaaS MVP development may take time. However, it will allow you to develop a better product. Our suggestion is to follow the core tips of SaaS MVP development:
- Understand the pain of your customers
- Perform research on competitors
- Choose a business model
- Define and prioritize the core features
- Create a product roadmap
- Start development
- Gather feedback
Have any questions on how to create an MVP for a SaaS startup? Book a free consultation with our team!
Frequently Asked Questions
A minimum viable product (MVP) in SaaS is an early version of a product that has only the core features but still offers enough value to customers.
Step 1: Doing Competitive Research
Step 2: Understanding Customer Pain Points