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April 13, 2022

How to create a proof of concept

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In software development, you can’t just start working on your new digital product. Well, you can, but it’s a detrimental approach, and you risk your time and money this way. In order to avoid potential risks and unnecessary actions, companies working on digital products go through several stages of testing and verifying the idea. The very first step in this verification process is based on creating a PoC – proof of concept. What is a proof of concept? What’s the role of a proof of concept in testing your new application? Let’s find out!

Proof of concept

In this article, we are going to show you everything you need to know about a proof of concept. You will discover the difference between PoC and MVP, and we will show you the key steps in creating a proof of concept. Let’s start with the proof of concept definition.

What is a proof of concept in software development?

What does proof of concept mean? It’s a common term used in software development. We could say it’s the first version of your new digital product that’s created to show (particularly to investors and other stakeholders) that your product:

  • Will work in the real life
  • Is feasible
  • Can be built within agreed conditions (e.g., relating to the budget and used technologies)

At this point, you might think, that’s a lot like a prototype or an MVP. So what’s the difference here?

Prototype vs. proof of concept vs. MVP

Granted, all these three terms have a very similar meaning. The difference lies in how much work goes into the outcome. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them:

PROOF OF CONCEPT

It’s the first version of your digital product. Its whole purpose is to show that your idea can be turned into a working digital product. In other words, PoC proves that your concept is workable.

MVP

This acronym stands for a minimum viable product. It’s a specific version of your digital product that has all the core features and options, but it’s not yet a fully functional app. Companies make MVPs to show them to early adopters and investors without the need to invest significant resources. The goal is to make sure that users will be interested in purchasing a product and that the way it works satisfies users.

PROTOTYPE

In general, the whole purpose of a prototype is to show how your digital product will be done. It’s a fully functional and working model of the end product. Prototypes are really important as they show the exact way to create a ready-made platform or application.

So, to sum up, the PoC shows that your product CAN be done, the prototype shows HOW it will be done, and the MVP is used to show the basic version of the future product without investing too much money.

The five benefits of creating a PoC in software development

One of the main reasons digital products fail is that many of them don’t find enough users. In other words, there is no market demand. That’s why it’s so crucial to test your product before it goes online. In fact, it’s a very rare situation when the first idea for a digital product is so good it remains unchanged, and the final product can be made successfully. That’s why you need a PoC – to make sure that you’re going in the right direction. We’ve listed five essential benefits of a proof of concept. Let’s have a look at them:

ESTIMATING RESOURCES

Of course, you will get more detailed information on that at the prototyping stage, but the PoC version already tells you a lot about the resources that will be necessary to finish a product. Thanks to a PoC, you will find out what technologies need to be used, how much time it will take to finish the ready-made product, and how much it will all cost.

REDUCING RISK

The proof of concept also allows you to mitigate risk. That’s because, with it, you can make sure that your idea can be executed, especially within the agreed development and budget conditions. Therefore, the risk of a failure, because the product is too complicated to make (or too expensive), is minimised.

VERIFYING IDEA

Although it’s not the main idea of a proof of concept, it enables you to verify your idea. With PoC, you can take a look at your product vision from a new perspective and assess whether it meets your (and your customers’) expectations.

UNDERSTANDING PRODUCT LIMITATIONS

Proofs of concept are just perfect to understand what can be done and what cannot be done when it comes to a particular digital product. For example, it could turn out that one of the features that you wanted to include is too complex to implement within your budget. As a result, you can make an informed decision and raise the budget or take that feature out of the final product.

HAVING A REASON-TO-BELIEVE

Earlier in this article, we told you that PoC is used to show that your idea will work in real-life conditions. As a result, you can use it to encourage the company’s management and investors to pursue this idea and continue working on a final version. PoC can convince those who are not sure about the idea.

When you take a look at the list of these five benefits, you can see why proofs of concept are so vital in today’s market. Customer expectations change rapidly, the market evolves and companies continually improve their products, both physical and digital ones. You ought to adopt the same approach. Think of improving your digital products and testing your ideas before spending too much money on an unsuccessful app or platform.

Now, let’s take a look at how to create a proof of concept. There are four critical proof of concept steps you need to follow.

Creating a proof of concept template – key steps

Testing a proof of concept requires following some procedures that will help you achieve the expected outcome. It all starts with defining the PoC goals.

DEFINE THE POC GOALS

You need to know what you want to achieve with your PoC. Although proofs of concept usually have one major goal – to make sure your product is workable – there can be several other minor goals, e.g., to:

  • Discover how unnecessary costs and actions can be avoided
  • Find out what potential problems (technical, financial, legal or functional) need to be taken into consideration
  • See how much money and time it will take to create a final product

List the goals that you want to achieve and keep them in mind while working on the proof of concept.

MAP THE SOLUTIONS

Digital products require multiple solutions and technologies to make them fully functional. For starters, there’s the front end and back end – both these aspects of your digital product require different programming languages. It would help if you thought about layout, user interactions, and monetisation strategy. Map all these elements on a clear and organised scheme. This way, you will get a comprehensive and quick insight into your product.

CREATE A PROTOTYPE

Here, it’s all very simple. You have to create the prototype of your PoC. If it meets all the conditions and fulfils your expectations – you can think of it as a ready-made proof of concept. At this point, you can use it and show it to investors, stakeholders, management, and co-workers. Once your PoC is ready, you can start testing and evaluating your idea.

TEST AND EVALUATE

There are three questions that you need to take into account:

  • Different customer segments: Remember that customers have different needs and expectations. You should define the personas of your users and divide them into specific market segments. This way, it will be easier to test your PoC and tailor it towards the needs of your future users.

  • Clear testing goals: The ultimate goal is known, and we’ve talked about that already. But you need to be more precise in defining testing goals. For instance, your goal could be to find out whether the layout in PoC is easy to use for different user segments.

  • Gather as much feedback as possible: That’s essential in everything you do software-wise. You should gather feedback from your co-workers, management, users, and software testers at each step. This way, you can consider different points of view and refine the final vision of the product.

Proof of concept: Summary

When it comes to software development, proofs of concept are essential. They help you assess whether it is a good idea to pursue your vision for a digital product. You need to consider several elements and some mistakes to avoid. If you adopt the right attitude when it comes to testing and verifying your vision, you will be able to create a refined and fully-functional product that will amaze your customers. Undoubtedly, a proof of concept is a valid part on the way to success.

At NoA Ignite, we help clients test and verify their ideas, especially when it comes to new digital products and services. If you want to develop a new app or feature and you need help with examining and testing your idea – we are at your service! Drop us a line and tell us something more. You can also schedule a free, non-binding consultation.

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Author

Greg Kalucki

Greg is a Client Director and Advisor with 15+ years experience in digital platforms and services. He has supported variety of mid-large global organisations in business growth through digitalization.

Contact Greg: grzegorz.kalucki@noaignite.com

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