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What is a Proof of Concept, and why do you need it

Blog

What does PoC mean in software development?

Why is Proof of Concept important in the software development process?

Proof of Concept, Minimum Viable Product & a Prototype

The process

Summing up

Once upon a time, there was an idea to make a product that will revolutionize the market. The proud inventor found a software development company and asked them to create a product design. They accepted it. After days of hard work and a lot of client’s money, they still couldn’t develop the final product. Finally, the project manager along with the team decided that the software project is impossible to make. As a result, they wasted time and money to prepare an unsatisfactory design.

So what went wrong? What the team missed in the process? The answer is simple. It’s a Proof of Concept (PoC).

Yes, developing software is time-consuming and includes several phases. There’s no doubt about it. Resources needed for this aren’t small. That’s true too. That’s why every new idea should be tested first, with Proof of Concept. Not only in terms of business proposal to convince stakeholders but also product’s feasibility. Is it worth pursuing? That’s the exact question you should know the answer to.

Learn about the meaning of PoC in IT industry and business as well as the process of Proof of Concept.

What does PoC mean in software development?

Proof of Concept is the first app version prepared before we start creating a new digital product. It can be a PoC project on the mobile app or a web one. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that when there’s a business idea, and especially if it’s an innovative and risky one, it’s worth checking it first to see whether the concept is feasible and works effectively. That what the PoC stage is for.

Have an idea? Test it first with Proof of Concept (PoC)

Beginning from the PoC phase is vital to building the right solution. The goal of teams along with project managers is to look for technical proof of the proposed product.

So what is considered PoC? Above all, Proof of Concept proves the product’s feasibility (design, software architecture, profitability) and allows verifying the functionality of assumptions for a given technology. 

Proof of Concept (PoC) in software development
Proof of Concept (PoC) in software development

Why is Proof of Concept important in the software development process?

Here are some of the main benefits of including PoC stage in your software development processs.

In-depth research of the problem

Before we start building the PoC, we focus on all the potential obstacles that stand in the way to the final product. We check everything that concerns the project – technology itself, market demand, budget, customer base, etc. All of it to choose the solutions best-suited to the potential users’ needs. This, in turn, has an impact on the product’s success.

Reduction of possible risks and problems

One of the most crucial benefits of Proof of Concept is that it allows you to diagnose and determine all limitations at the earliest stages, which, in turn, translates to better understanding of the product.

Plus, the risks are minimized even more if you follow the development phase with prototyping. This allows for further tests, thanks to which you get customer feedback on the early version of the product. We can’t stress this enough – the testing stage is extremely crucial when building software solution.

Lean more about testing and how to preserve the software quality from the separate article by Dominik Guzy, our CIO.

An increase in the project team creativity in the research stage

Because it’s a small project, we can devote more time to the analysis – we’re able to verify and change the product’s assumptions. As a result, the product will be refined and better fulfill its initial purpose with the core functionality.

Knowledge if the product is useful and successful 

Thanks to PoC development, you know in advance if your product idea is going to succeed. And owing to market analysis, there’s a chance that it’ll stand out from the competition too.

The objective of a Proof of Concept is to test whether an idea can develop as a marketable, profitable product. Can I fill the gap in the market? What is the potential customer base? How do I maximize an investment? The PoC provides answers to the questions and validates the idea before committing money, human resources, and time.

You won’t lose money, time and the company’s reputation

The main goal of Proof of Concept is to demonstrate the functionality of the final product – to ensure it has a lower risk of failure. So you can be certain that you won’t spend your money away. Investors want to know that they support a winner, but no serious investor will just “finance” a project that has no future. A PoC provides proof of this concept’s financial viability. Hence, it’s a great way to attract potential investors. And that’s a PoC meaning in business.

Proof of Concept, Minimum Viable Product & a Prototype

Proof of Concept, Minimum Viable Product and prototyping – these 3 concepts are beneficial during the initial stages of software creation. PoC proves that the product’s idea is doable, while a prototype demonstrates its functionality. At the same time, thanks to MVP, you get to launch a basic version of your actual product to the potential users and gather customer feedback.

the difference between Proof of-Concept (PoC), Minimal Viable Product (MVP), Prototyping - idea's feasibility, idea's viability, idea's functionality
Proof of Concept, Prototype, Minimum Viable Product

Learn more about the prototype process and its benefits from How to make a digital product better using app prototyping.

The process

Proof of Concept (PoC) in software development process
Proof of Concept (PoC) in the software development process

During the Proof of Concept process, we’re always looking forward to new collaborations. Each client is treated individually, and each project requires a proper approach and analysis. From the first meeting to the product workshop, we get to know the client, his idea and the business. 

As a part of the research, we advise building a Proof of Concept. With PoC, we aim to reduce business and financial risks as well as to estimate the cost of the project. Here’s how we do it:

Predetermined timebox 

First of all, before the research starts, we set how much time we need for it. In this way, we know our goal and how to spread the workload across the development teams. We have to keep in mind that it’s a small experiment to see if the assumptions for technology are enough to make a digital product. Remember, it’s a test, not a real product, not yet.

Set of detailed questions

What we’ve learned during creating the Proof of Concept is to define the issues and the research area precisely. Thanks to that, we can later identify gaps, technical issues in the project and prevent any misunderstandings. 

We conduct the study by following our set of questions. If we don’t find a solution to one of them, we inform the client and discuss what should we do next. Sometimes some restrictions can stop the whole project. In our work, we have often encountered issues due to software or devices. So we know how important it is to diagnose those problems before the development starts. We also keep an open mind to new solutions and technologies. When we decide that some approach may work better with the idea, we try it out.

Communication and effectiveness

In the Proof of Concept phase (or any other process involving software creation), there must be a strong focus on communication and productivity. The team working together talks about the progress and encountered difficulties with the clients

Staying in touch allows us to explain everything about the product – from costs to tasks we perform. In this way, they’re aware of what is going on at the given moment. The client is a part of the creating the product too.

Research data 

By collecting the data from questions, we can better adjust the product to meeting the market requirements. From our experience, we know that very often, the primary assumptions change and evolve.

Simultaneously to Proof of Concept, we do a market analysis to know the competition and target audience better. Thanks to this, our client will get a finished product that stands out from the competition and that clients will want to use.

Summing up

Proof of Concept is a small investment that can bring a lot of benefits to the client. Thanks to the PoC, we can identify the potential setbacks and prevent them. It’ll point in the right direction toward measures that need to be taken, which will help in further product creation.

Sometimes there’s another technology more suitable for the project, but it can be discovered only because of Proof of Concept. Thus, it should be a part of product creation process.

We’ll thoroughly analyze your idea and your business. Book a free consultation with us, and let’s turn your idea into reality.

Editor’s note: We’ve originally published this post in July 2020 and updated it for comprehensiveness.

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