It’s invigorating to come up with a new piece of software. Team members are inspired to build something new that addresses an issue after brainstorming possibilities and envisioning potential. Ideation is thrilling, but if you don’t put your idea through its paces, you might not get the thing you want.
Is the concept feasible? Is it practical? Will users be interested in using it? What materials will be needed to construct it? A proof of concept can provide answers to all of these and other problems.
Over 66 percent of businesses fail to return value to investors. What accounts for such a high failure rate? Businesses and entrepreneurs frequently rush into product development in order to have their solutions up and running as soon as feasible. It’s a risky move that could easily backfire.
The issue of incorrect values frequently obstructs the successful establishment of a launch and other initiatives in general. Typically, this is because the original idea was poorly formulated, and as a result, the project begins to move in the wrong direction from the outset.
A smart software development method employs the Proof of Concept (or POC) approach to avoid this issue. Perhaps you’ve previously heard of this term. Let’s define it and go through it in depth.
What is a Proof of Concept?
A proof of concept is a verification process used in software development that is implemented at the beginning of the product development lifecycle. The aim of the proof of concept is to validate the software idea - it’s all about proving that the suggested system, application, or product will work in real life before you commence development.
It is extremely rare for an initial proposal to fit the demands of today’s ever-changing markets. Moreover, products must not only be technically practical, but also be developed to answer real-world problems for targeted users. They will fail if they do not. That is why, for a software development company, it is critical to pace the development process by carefully planning it and testing the new idea before beginning to implement it.
A proof of concept is absolutely necessary for defining the ultimate product’s vision and orientation. As a result, it should include all stakeholders involved in the development process. They should meet to examine the project’s constraints, possibilities, and dangers, as well as to agree on the project’s direction.
A proof of concept can be in the form of a document, a presentation, or a demo; no code or design is necessary at this point. However, the proof of concept should result in detailed documentation of needs and technical specifications. It’s normally done internally or within a small group of stakeholders when you outsource.
Why is a Proof of Concept Important?
You are essentially spelling out on paper why your idea would be successful in the market when you create a proof of concept. Consider it a business strategy for a software concept. Though it may be tempting to forego producing a POC, it is critical to completely flesh out your idea for a number of reasons.
- Validity – Before you move on to development, you must first determine whether your idea is realistic. Is it possible to build it on your budget? Is there a market demand for it? What would the return on investment be?
- Focus Group Testing - So many startups waste mney and time constructing something they believe people want, only to rework it after receiving feedback that their idea fell short. Creating a proof of concept and testing it with your target user base will allow you to obtain early input on what people desire. You may then streamline the development of your idea, saving you many hours and dollars spent on fixing the wrong problems.
- Money generation - If you want to get investors to fund your project, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve thought it through to the finish. Creating an early roadmap that anticipates market value, potential stumbling blocks, and how to commercialize your software innovation will go a long way toward instilling investor trust in your project.
Proof of Concept vs prototype vs Minimum Viable Product
Although the three notions appear to be similar at first look, they differ significantly, particularly in terms of the purpose each serves. The choice of which one you should start with relies on a variety of things like your level of expertise and the budget you have available for the project.
If you’re still unsure, consider the following questions that the three concepts answer:
PoC: Is the business concept technologically viable?
Prototype: How will the product look and function?
MVP: Does the product match the market and meet the needs of its prospective users?
Consider a Proof of Concept and a prototype to be tools that will provide you with a broader perspective on the project and allow you to empirically test certain assumptions. When combined with market research and a detailed business plan, it can provide an in-depth examination of the project. An MVP, on the other hand, will show you whether or not there is a market for your product. And, while you may want to go complete PoC – prototype – MVP cycle, it isn’t always essential.
How to Develop a Proof of Concept
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for creating a proof of concept. Instead, it is critical to ensure that specified key themes are covered, however that may be. A proof of concept is a living document that may be modified as new ideas emerge and readers provide comments. A Proof of Concept should cover the following topics while developing software ideas.:
Step 1: Prove the Need
It only makes sense to invest time and money in developing a product if people require it. Perhaps such individuals are employees of the organization who need to increase their productivity. Perhaps they are a new market that the corporation is not already serving but could simply enter. Whoever they are, you must be confident that your program will match their requirements.
Before you begin developing the program, you need have a firm grasp on the pain issues that your target audience is experiencing. You don’t want to speculate or assume what these difficulties are without speaking with a representative sample of the group.
Step 2: Map Pain Points to Solutions and Get Feedback
This stage entails brainstorming solutions to each of the pain areas you identified in the previous step. Each problem will almost certainly have multiple solutions. Following your brainstorm, you’ll assess each potential solution in terms of cost, competitiveness, timeframe, technological hurdles, and so on. After completing this procedure, you should have a better understanding of which solutions to include in the end product.
Step 3: Prototype Your Solution and Test
The next step is to construct a prototype that encapsulates your solutions into a rudimentary product that you can test with folks you previously interviewed. The expected feature set and UI/UX should be present in this prototype.
Once the prototype is complete, run it by your interviewees to get additional feedback. Keep track of how they use the product to see how user-friendly the UI is and if you missed any critical functionalities.
Step 4: Create a Minimum Viable Product
An MVP differs from a prototype in that it is a fully functional solution that can be deployed in the real world. While it will have only the most crucial features necessary for addressing the major pain points you identified, it should perform on the user’s side in the same way as the final product.
The MVP allows you to test the product on a larger group of people who are more representative of your market or audience than your small test group. It provides an opportunity for additional feedback, which will inform you whether the product in its current version is appealing to users and stakeholders.
Step 5: Design a Roadmap
Create a roadmap that illustrates what you’ve learned and defines a proposed step-by-step strategy for constructing the product using all of the knowledge you’ve acquired in each of the previous processes. With this roadmap as a guide, everyone will be on the same page throughout product development and will have a clear understanding of what the end aim is.
Main Takeaways for Creating a Proof of Concept
Creating usable digital products requires a combination of creativity and the usage of tested software development approaches. The first step in ensuring a successful start is to validate the worth of your future software product.
As you may have guessed, POCs, prototypes, and MVPs all have the same main goal: to assess how viable and compelling a software is to its intended audience. But that’s about the only thing they have in common. Each of these takes a different method to achieving that aim and, as a result, each meets a distinct set of demands.
At each level, we want to emphasize the importance of getting as much feedback from your target audience as possible. The more information you have about what your users genuinely want, the sooner you can focus on those features, eliminate those that are unneeded, and save yourself time and money in the process.
Many startups fail because they bypass the proof of concept stage, confident that their idea is a unicorn, and rush to market. Spending some thoughtful effort on a PoC is a terrific first step toward a fruitful market launch. Do you want to chat about your new software solution ideas and look into a proof of concept? Get in touch with us.