MVP Notes

Below are the notes I put together as I brainstormed what a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the Review Cadence app would look like. I’m posting it here mainly as a reference, but also so that those who are curious can look under the hood a little and see some of the thought processes behind how the product is being built. It won’t be perfect by a long shot, but hopefully it will turn into something useful when it’s all said and done.

Here are the notes…


The goal of this document is to give a general outline of the minimum set of functions that a prototype will need to have in version 1. I also want to take a little bit of time and outline the philosophy of the project and why I believe it’s important.

Purpose of routine reviews & the genesis of the project

I have conducted an annual review every year since 2012. I started doing reviews in response to a fairly hard battle with anxiety. Using the tool of self-assessment, I was able to architect a plan to turn my life around and have been using the process ever since. Over the years, this process has changed the trajectory of my life, allowed me to gain clarity and focus on what things are important, and provided me a roadmap for achieving goals that I have set for myself and my family, each year.

The review process is probably the single most valuable tool and exercise I do to ensure I’m living a life that is focused and how I want to live.

I have also integrated quarterly, monthly and weekly reviews into the process to further refine and focus my efforts throughout the remainder of the year.

After almost a decade of conducting reviews, I have built a pretty good system. As I have gotten older, I have begun to think more and more about how I can help others live a better life. The one thing I keep coming back to is - if I could share the benefits of conducting routine reviews and, more importantly, give them a tool that guides them through the process, I could do a small part in helping the world lean toward becoming better.

However, I suspect that the major barrier to most people performing annual reviews for themself is that they may not know where to start, what questions to ask, what format to follow, etc. And rather than starting from scratch and building their own process, they simply give up. Not only that, but remembering to conduct the review at the specified time intervals often gets forgotten.

And these are the problems I am hoping to solve - making the barrier of entry for the process as low as possible and build a tool that help people establish a cadence.

The general idea of the product is to provide a tool that will walk a person through the process from start to finish, providing prompts and guidance along the way. Think of it like TurboTax for personal development. Someone who is brand new to the process should be able to sign up with a simple email address and password, and immediately be able to create a new review and have the system walk them through the process by asking them questions and providing a method for them to respond & write their answers.

The key to the product is making it simple, clean, and as distraction free as possible. User experience is an absolute priority.

MVP Function List

MVP = Minimum Viable Product. A version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. As such, the MVP function list for this project will include the minimum features to show a working version of the idea.

I have broken the project down into three general functional categories:

  1. Authentication/Authorization
  2. Reflect on the Past
  3. Look to the Future
  4. Set cadence schedule for future reviews

Each of these functional categories will, in themselves, have a subset of features that will need to be implemented in the MVP.

Additionally, the homepage will need some sort of information about what the product/project is (i.e. marketing copy). Maybe an FAQ page to answer some common questions people might have.

In terms of reviews, I am not going to build templates and functionality to handle different timeframes (annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly), rather, the MVP will simply be a review that walks through past and future modules. We will start with a simple review, and then stretch out to additional functionality that speaks to specific timeframes.

Authentication & Authorization

Authentication and authorization is fairly straight-forward. We will need the following basic functions to get started:

  • Registration - simple email and password should be all that is needed.
  • Log in/out (session handling)
  • Reset PW (manual)
  • Forgot PW (manual)

Forgot password functionality can/should probalby be done manually by me at first. No reason to include it into the MVP when there are other ways to get it done. Same with resetting a password.

The authorization functions should probably be the last piece of the MVP to be built out. I want to focus on getting the other pieces built and working before worrying about some of these basic authentication and authorization functions.

I will also start thinkging about just using oAuth in the beginning (Google, Facebook, etc.) The other option is to use a managed solution like Firebase or Cognito. Will think more about implementation details later.

Module 1: Reflect on the Past (Defining Moments)

The first module that we will guide a user through will be reflecting on the year that has passed. In this module, we will ask the user to enter a series of defining moments that occurred throughout the year.

The MVP version of this will be a single form where the user will enter a summary sentence, enter free form details about the event, and then summarize what lessons (if any) were learned in the process. So, essentially a textbox and two text areas.

Functionality for this module will include:

  • List defining moments (DF)
  • Add DF
  • Edit DF
  • Delete DF

Future versions of this could be a more granular, wizard-like approach that has the user enter the one sentence summaries first, then loops them through each asking them to provide details and lessons (similar to the Snowflake Method for writing novels where you build one layer at a time).

Module 2: Looking to the Future

This module is focused on defining goals and outlining a plan to achieve them over the next year. This is where the user gets to dream and define what they want their life to look like. This should be based in response to the things they listed in the previous module along with additional things they want to achieve.

This section will provide functionality for:

  • List goals
  • Add a goal
  • Edit a goal
  • Delete a goal

This is a simple form for the user to fill out and record the goal and put a date on it. Nothing more. Future enhancements will allow them to prioritize, set milestone dates, categorize, etc.

Set Cadence Schedule for Future Reviews

This is, hopefully, where the power of this tool will show up. When a user is finished filling out their review, the immediate next step is to schedule the next review or set of reviews. Eventually, this will drive a scheduled task that will send out notifications of upcoming reviews and such, but for this iteration we should allow the user to simply pick or enter a list of dates upon which they would like to conduct future reviews.

Functionality will include:

  • List upcoming review dates
  • Add a review date
  • Edit a review date
  • Delete a review date
  • Download calendar reminders(?) I’m still up in the air on this one. Not sure if it should go into the MVP release or not.

General Notes

Again, the purpose of this MVP is to get something up and running to prove the concept and start getting feedback from users. I have a ton of ideas and features that will eventually make their way into the product, but the initial version should only contain those features that make the product minimally viable.

The big deal here will be to get something shipped.