What is Proof of Concept (POC), and Why Does It Matter in the Software Development Process?

Proof of Concept
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In the very beginning, developing an original idea for a new piece of software is stimulating. Project managers and their team members are motivated to develop new solutions to problems by generating ideas and visualizing potential outcomes. Business idea generation is fun, but you might not get the desired result if you don’t test your concept.

Sometimes people think that investing in a proof of concept (POC) is a waste of money and time-consuming. And this is a severe error and quite ironic because that could cost you a lot of money. But, on the contrary, a proof of concept is the ideal, affordable solution for reviewing ideas, even the most brilliant ones.

The proof of concept (POC) shows project managers the answer to some of these queries.

  • What is the feasibility of the idea?
  • Is the idea practical?
  • Is there any similar example of your idea created? (For testing the success rate of your idea)
  • Are users going to want to use your idea as a product?
  • How many industries would require the concept? (Important to prepare you for potential obstacles)
  • What materials, tools, or emerging technologies will be needed to build your idea?

You will learn more about the benefits of a POC in this article, including how it can save you time and money before you start making significant purchases.

proof of concept definition

What Is Proof of Concept (POC)

The software development process begins with a proof of concept after the creation of the product’s general concept. A proof of concept aims to validate the project’s viability and confirm the concept’s viability as a whole. From a software development standpoint, the purpose of the proof of concept is to demonstrate the viability of both the business concept and the proposed product.

An adequately presented proof of concept helps project managers avoid expensive mistakes and makes drawing in investors, money, and human resources easier. Making evidence and documentation about an idea’s viability is known as proof of concept (POC).

It describes how the ideal product or service would enter the market, how it would operate, whether it is necessary, and who the target market is.

While a proof of concept has many uses in various industries (from marketing to drug development), it only applies to one particular process when it comes to software development.

Performing a proof of concept (POC) involves evaluating whether software-specific ideas can be implemented in the real world, what technologies should be used in the product development process, and whether the software as a final product is likely to be adopted by its target audience.

 proof of concept meaning

What Is The Difference Between A Proof of Concept (POC), Prototype, And A Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

Although they share some similarities, they are not equal. These two approaches have various functions in software and product development.

The similarities between a proof of concept and a minimum viable product are that both help you save time, money, and effort for the software development team. Additionally, these two phases occur right at the start of the software development process.

A proof of concept (POC) process is a powerful tool for validating your idea and selling it to investors before the minimum viable product is released to the public.

The MVP (representative sample) stage allows you to see how users interact with your website or app in real-world situations. Despite being a part of the same project, the two approaches produce very different results.

 what is proof of concept

A prototype takes things a step further than a proof of concept, which concentrates on the core concept of the product and seeks to determine whether the potential product will help the customer’s problem.

The prototype is an interactive working model; the objective is to demonstrate how the final product could be made. A clickable mockup is one of the most popular prototypes used in software development projects. It makes the product easier to understand by showcasing its general appearance and feel and emphasizing the essential features of the product’s potential commercial success.

UX designers should be involved in prototyping and research the available prototyping UX tools.

Benefits Of A Successful Proof Of Concept

A proof of concept confirms that theories and concepts used in a project will produce a successful outcome. On the other hand, POCs do not result in deliverables because the project’s viability is the primary concern.

The following are advantages of utilizing proof of concept in your projects’ early development phases:

1. Project managers can identify potential hazards and challenges for the project team

Project managers can identify risks and challenges they might encounter when implementing the suggested product by creating a POC.

Managers can anticipate these challenges and plan their projects accordingly while still in the development stage, as opposed to discovering them during or after the product launch. The non-performance of deliverables by contracted parties, disagreements during project implementation, and many other issues are examples of these risks and challenges.

It’s important to remember that the POC can increase the likelihood that the product will succeed even though it cannot guarantee the smooth implementation of project management fundamentals. Check out the guide for the challenger sales model.

proof of concept template

2. Provide proof and insights for stakeholders

Proof of concept provides valuable information in the business plan that decision-makers and potential investors can use to assess the project’s success, its viability, and the market value of a project or product idea.

It could also provide development teams with crucial user feedback and data on market demand, potential users, and crucial pain points.

Because it serves as the foundation for your product prototype and minimum viable product, proof of concept is a crucial stage of the product development process.

3. Project managers and stakeholders can assess the likelihood of scalability

The pilot project team would probably anticipate scaling when they suggest developing a software product.

Because of this, project managers can use POCs to test for viability and scalability, either right away or over time, and determine if an early-stage product idea is feasible.

POCs can assist stakeholders in gaining an understanding of how to expand and produce the product in terms of, among other things, workflow standardization, human resources, and system architecture.

Companies can assess their ability to handle increased production in this way. POCs can help project managers deal with scope creep even when the project is still in the proposal stage.

Scope creep is the tendency for a product’s requirements to increase or escalate over the course of a project.

 what is a proof of concept

Confirmation of the main idea

On erroneous assumptions, projects are occasionally developed without verifying data from market research. A Proof of Concept (POC) aids in the early concept and market need validation.

The project was not a waste of time, even if the feedback was not as favorable as you had hoped. Use this as an opportunity to change the idea to better suit the requirements of your target audience.

A concise business plan

A proof of concept highlights the most important requirements and priorities for the project. It is simpler to create a more precise project timeline and roadmap and to better predict costs using the information you will learn from a PoC

Putting a different spin on the project

Making the idea a reality makes stakeholders more willing to risk their money on the project because they can clearly see its potential and worth. The POC enables you to confirm that the technology you choose will work for the project and meet its requirements.

How to Craft a Proof of Concept

These guidelines are less stringent than those for other types of written work, such as research papers, which are required to adhere to a standard introduction, methodology, and conclusion format.

Instead, it’s crucial to guarantee that certain crucial topics are covered, whatever that may be. A proof of concept is a dynamic document that can be updated as you come up with new ideas and receive insightful criticism from those who have read it. In a POC for software development, the following topics ought to be covered:

Step 1: First, establish the need.

Only when a product is required by customers does it make financial and time sense to have it artistically designed.

Perhaps those users are the staff members of a company, and they need to increase their output or they might be a brand-new business that hasn’t yet penetrated the market but could easily do so with your proposed solution.

You must be certain that your software will satisfy all of your customer’s needs, whoever they may be. If it doesn’t, then it is not worth pursuing.

Your target audience’s pain points should be crystal clear to you before you start developing the software. Without speaking to a representative sample of the group, you shouldn’t make assumptions about these issues or guess what they are.

Step 2: Connect the problems of your target audience to your solutions and solicit feedback

This step entails formulating potential solutions for each of the problems you identified in step one. There will probably be several approaches to each problem.

Following your brainstorming session, you’ll assess each potential solution through feedback to see how it compares in terms of cost, competition, timeline, technological challenges, etc. You should have a better idea of which solutions to include in the finished product once this process is finished.

Once you have this list of options, revisit the users you initially spoke with to find out how they felt about the suggested solutions and functionality you will have developed in your prototype by the next time you contact them.

Ask them for their feedback after outlining how you picture the product functioning.

Step 3: Test and prototype your technology

A prototype is a working interactive model of your pilot project. The next step is to build a prototype that incorporates your solutions into a basic product that you can test with the people you previously interviewed.

The prototype shows the UI/UX and feature set that should be anticipated.

When the prototype is finished, test it with the interviewees to get more input. Take notes as they use the product to monitor how user-friendly the interface is and determine whether you missed any crucial function.

 poc proof of concept

Step 4: Create a Minimum Viable Product

An MVP differs from a prototype in that it’s a fully-usable product that you can release to the public. It will only contain the features that are absolutely necessary to address the main problems you identified, but it should still work for the user in the same way as the finished product.

The MVP enables you to test the product on a larger group of people who are more representative of your market or audience than the small group of interviewees. It provides the chance for more feedback, which can help you determine whether the product is appealing to users and stakeholders in its current iteration.

Step 5: Create a road map

Make a roadmap out of all the data you gathered in each of the preceding steps, detailing what you learned and outlining the suggested specific process for building the product. Consider this road map as a set of construction blueprints for your product team. With this roadmap as a guide, everyone will stay in sync during product development and have a clear understanding of the end result.

The Takeaway

We want to emphasize at every stage get as much input from your target market as you can. The more knowledge you have about the features your users actually want, the sooner you can concentrate on those features, eliminate the nonessential part, and cut down on iteration time and costs, and the sooner you can have your idea developed.

You can carry on raising money and other resources at each stage, using these supporting records to update investors on the success of the product.

Because they rush to the market without first conducting a proof of concept because they are convinced their idea is a unicorn, many startups fail. Spending some time thoughtfully on a PoC is a great first step to set you up for a successful market launch.