- What is a Proof of Concept (POC)
- When Do You Need a Proof of Concept
- Proof of Concept (POC) vs Prototype vs MVP: What’s the Difference
- Proof of Concept Template: How to Compose It
- How to Create Proof of Concept (POC) for Your Software
- Proof of Concept Mistakes
What is a Proof of Concept (POC)
There are differing opinions on a proof of concept definition. Some experts refer to it as an already created POC software (that means you have to have some code at this stage), while others define proof of concept as something more like a research paper.
Proof of concept is generally a document that explains and confirms the practical feasibility of your idea. The main goal of documenting a POC business idea is to show that it will work in a real-life environment, specify technologies and confirm that your target audience will demand your future solution.
This document is theoretical and mostly based on research. However, drafting it is one of the most crucial steps in custom software development. It is the first step toward idea validation which is at the core of the Lean approach. It allows you to make sure you can implement the idea and that it has business potential, thereby saving you from mistakes and resource waste at an early stage.
Proving your concept is also an opportunity to take a deeper look at your idea and find ways to improve it by searching for the best approaches to make it work and satisfy user demand. That’s why proof of concept is important: it allows you to deliver more value in the end by investing your time, attention, and effort in the beginning.
When Do You Need a Proof of Concept?
After everything is clear with a POC business goal, you can proceed with proving your concept before getting started with your idea implementation. These are times you need a POC:
- When you have a completely new idea. MVP Lean startup initiators are usually confident that their idea will work. However, 90% of new startups fail, with the highest failure rate concentrated in the IT industry. This figure would not be as high if startup creators knew what a proof of concept is and how to do it right.
- When you want to power your solution with a new feature or technology. In this case, proof-of-concept is also required, and the POC business template should include a thorough analysis of user expectations.
- When you are looking for ways to improve your existing software. What does it mean to develop a proof of concept? If you need to improve your application, then POC requires you to research and brainstorm practices that will allow you to cut out unrealistic or useless ideas and develop suitable approaches instead.
Proof of Concept (POC) vs Prototype vs MVP: What’s the Difference?
Try googling something like “what is a POC” - and you will discover articles that talk about a minimum viable product (MVP) and design prototype in the context of POC business. These are three different terms and practices used at different stages of custom web or mobile development, so we’ll explain them.
The POC business goal is to find out whether your idea will work. The goal of the prototype is to show how it works. The goal of the MVP is to make it work.
If we look at proof of concept vs prototype, then the first is the theoretical document that describes possible ways to realize your thought and prove its business value. A prototype is the visualization of your idea (its first embodiment), while an MVP is an already working demo software. Its business value is already validated by the POC. And its technical and visual realization is powered by your prototype.
There is a clear connection between your proof of concept, your prototype, and MVP software. They are essential milestones in Agile development since each of them allows you to make sure that you are going to create a working and well-designed solution demanded by your future users.
Proof of Concept Template: How to Compose It
You may be surprised to find out that there is no universal proof of concept template. Since each tech idea is unique, the creators may use different approaches to creating proof of concept of software you want. We suggest taking a look at two practices for creating a POC template.
- Idea introduction. You need to summarize your idea and form a pitch by writing down the idea’s essence, the problem it solves, and its expected value.
- Concept introduction. Proceed with your concept. Here you need to explain how you expect your idea to work.
- Idea verification. Provide a brief overview of your idea verification strategy.
- Verification steps. Verify your idea step-by-step by outlining the necessary tools, technologies, and resources, and back the idea up with use cases and some code.
- Feasibility chart. Here you can provide a brief overview of the target market, evaluate risks, and come up with a chart that shows your idea’s potential under specified circumstances.
- Scaling opportunities. Predict them based on a market trends overview and share your business growth vision.
- Background and aim. Share your idea background and context, plus specify the goal of your future solution and the problem it will solve.
- Technical summary. In this section, you need to prove that your idea will work in a real-life environment, specify what special tools you need to make it work, and explain how you suggest using them to make the idea work.
- Business plan. You don’t need to outline your business plan from A to Z. Instead, summarize your business development strategy, consider its potential value and share predicted income estimates.
- Work plan and milestones. Here, you need to share some insights on how you will get the work done, and specify outputs for the main development milestones.
- Risk analysis. Consider risks in the business plan section or dedicate a separate section of a POC template to them.
- Resources. To prove your idea feasibility, you also have to specify what resources (time, money, and talent) you need, and more importantly, these estimates need to be realistic.
How to Create Proof of Concept (POC) for Your Software
Depending on your business needs, you can follow a few different approaches to your proof of concept. We at Archer Software utilize a flexible POC approach. For example, we can create a clickable design to make sure that the idea itself works, immediately transform it into an interactive prototype and invite the startup creator to find out how the future solution will look and work.
The next strategy includes creating something close to a prototype and MVP, however, such a demo solution doesn’t necessarily have to use the data that it will use in real life.
In this case, we store some data on the local server and use it to showcase how the future solution may work. Also, it is possible to create a lightweight version of an MVP. However, such a demo solution doesn’t necessarily have to use real-life data.
One more creative approach to proof of concept is video production. In this case, you can develop a simple user interface (UI) and showcase your idea with the help of a video. It is also a winning strategy when you need to present your idea to an audience with the app before getting started and check the reaction. Here is how we did it for our Engine Sound app.
Proof of Concept Mistakes
Although proof of concept gives you immunity from most mistakes, it is still possible to do something wrong during the validation process. Try to avoid the following pitfalls:
- Blurred use case. Try to outline the problem as precisely as you can, and do not go beyond it in the process of proving your concept.
- Too many hypotheses. Any proof of concept starts with the suggestion that your idea is capable of working and producing results. However, too many ideas without scientific or practical confirmation can leave your concept unproven.
- Blurred metrics. The proof of the concept should always be tied to a clear result, and the result should be specific and measurable.
- Wrong choice of a tech partner. It is necessary to have experience and a trained eye to create a proof concept. Choose a vendor carefully.
Proving your concept in advance is essential. Choosing the right company to help you with this task is equally important. Our tech team knows how to prove concepts. What’s more, we will provide good software development ideas and help you implement them for your business.
Let’s do the first step and make your idea come to life! Schedule a free consultation to talk about it.