Minimum Viable Architecture

The minimum viable architecture (MVA), also known as “just enough architecture,” is an approach to start software development with the bare minimum architecture that is good enough for a release. From there, improvements will be continuously introduced alongside the software product during its lifetime.

The idea of MVA is related to the concept of agile methodology. One main component in agile is the minimum viable product (MVP), which refers to a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. MVA carries the same idea but is applied to the software architecture instead of a product.

There is a misconception that with MVA, a team can skip the planning of a good software architecture design at the beginning of the software development process. It is not a correct way of thinking because to move fast and quickly adapt to changes, you need a good foundation, which you can only get through good architectural design. And MVA should be an appropriate starting point for the software development journey.

It is crucial to distinguish between the must-have features and the good-to-have features.

These are some principles of MVA:

  • Build for the most likely scenario
  • Keep the design flexible enough to adapt to changes in the future
  • Small incremental improvements over time
  • Based on concrete and factual requirements instead of assumptions

These are a few things that you need to consider when thinking through the best shape of your MVA:

  • Identify the business goals - the target users, customer needs, scope, and financial goals. Architects should have good communication with the stakeholders to understand the business.
  • Choose the appropriate development methodology - It is of utmost importance that the development strategies entail best practices of the code review process, repository management, a persistence strategy, and a quality assurance or QA strategy.
  • Define the technology stack - programming language, toolkit, cloud environments
  • Recognize the culture - The organization should have a cultural shift, and architecture should stand the test of time for years to come. Make it clear to the architect that he will be given time to address issues in the future.

These are the example of questions that might help you to identify the requirements of creating an MVA:

  • How many users will interact with your apps in the initial launch?
  • Who is the target users? Internal users, external users, or both?
  • Will the app run 24/7?
  • How will the users be able to join the apps at launch? Open registration or by invitation only?

Providing a flexible framework that can help achieve target business objectives, MVA responds to evolving customer requirements and technologies and can go a long way in promoting agility. We need to leverage MVA to support the continual delivery of those products in a sustainable way. It’s about avoiding overengineering and getting straight to the core of your software and your business.


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