A proof of concept (POC) outlines how a conceptualized service or product may become ready for the market, how it may work, whether it's needed, and its target audience. Without POCs, companies could waste significant resources developing products that don't appeal to users.
Read on to learn what a proof of concept is, how they work in software development, the benefits of using a POC, and how to create a proof of concept template. You will also learn how to test a POC for viability and how Revelo can help you build your team and scale development.
What Is a POC?
A POC is created to show the feasibility of a proposed software project or solution. Depending on your needs and preferences, a proof of concept can be anything you want, whether a bare-bones version of your final product or a demo video. Regardless of your chosen approach, POCs are usually cost-effective and created early in the product development lifecycle by project managers and teams.
Many industries use POCs to pursue ideas before approving them for testing and full-scale production, whether they are engaging in:
- Software development
- Game and mobile app development
- Retail and eCommerce
- Drug discovery
- Science and engineering
Proof of Concept vs. Prototype
Many people confuse proofs of concept with prototypes. However, they are distinct concepts. A proof of concept is an initial demonstration of a feature or product's ability to solve user problems. It convinces clients and stakeholders that the team should proceed with the project. For example, you can create a POC using Sketch or Photoshop to transform digital ideas into a visual form.
In contrast, a prototype is more refined and involves building a working product with limited functionalities. Unlike a POC, it doesn't just pose a hypothetical solution to users' problems; it also empowers users to complete actual tasks. Examples of prototypes include wireframes, interactive frontends, videos, landing pages, and working models made in Sketch.
Proof of Concept vs. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A POC is created at the pre-product stage and needs minimal-to-medium investment. It is meant to give theoretical ground to an idea of a function or solution. In contrast, an MVP implements the features designed at the POC and prototype stages.
When you create an MVP, you enter a product stage with core features and functionalities to gauge how the market will receive your product. MVPs require more money and time to create than POCs and prototypes.
POC in Software Development
For software development companies, POCs are the first step in creating innovative and user-friendly applications. Teams can use POC templates in software development to help optimize workflows and do the following before investing substantial time, effort, and resources into projects:
- Assess technological feasibility: Developers can determine whether the required frameworks and technologies can deliver the proposed functionalities by creating a specific component or a small-scale version of the envisioned software. They can then use the POC to identify potential technical problems early in development. As a result, they will have more time to make adjustments or switch to alternative solutions.
- Evaluate design and usability: POC user feedback can help optimize and refine the user interface (UI), ensuring the final product meets users' needs.
- Secure stakeholder buy-in: POCs can showcase the proposed software's core functionalities, potential benefits, and key features to stakeholders. This will keep stakeholders' interest in the project high.
- Streamline product development process: By creating a POC, software teams can allocate resources and streamline their efforts effectively and efficiently. They can also use the POC process to identify the best development approaches, minimizing wasted effort and improving time-to-market.
Benefits of Using a POC
There are several benefits to creating and testing a proof of concept for product development. These include:
- Shorter time-to-market: POCs focus on essential functionalities and features. As such, teams can quickly validate concepts and move toward full-scale development, leading to faster time-to-market.
- Improved scalability: POCs give teams insights for improving scalability, leading to better plans for future growth and expansion. For example, teams can evaluate the performance of the proposed software under different workloads and scenarios to identify resource limitations and potential scalability challenges. Teams can then use these insights to make informed decisions about scalability optimization.
- Better communication and collaboration: POCs foster effective communication and collaboration between product development teams, end-users, and stakeholders by creating a usable artifact representing the software concept. This makes it easier for parties to provide feedback, refine the product's design and features, and build on previous iterations.
- Cost-effective decision-making: Teams often waste time and money fixing mistakes during the product development lifecycle. POCs, though, minimize the investment of time, resources, and effort by letting teams rapidly create and test core functionalities. Teams can then use insights to make better decisions, reducing the likelihood of fixing or redoing certain features or the entire project.
- Competitive advantages: POCs also encourage companies to explore new technologies and ideas. They let teams experiment with different approaches, try cutting-edge tools, and push the boundaries of what is possible.
Companies that don't use POCs to develop products may experience challenges and risks, such as longer time-to-market, lower scalability, poor communication and collaboration, higher development costs, and fewer competitive advantages.
How to Write a Proof of Concept
Now that you understand POCs and their benefits, follow these steps to write your own.
Step 1: Establish the Project Scope
The first step is to define the project scope. You can do this by talking to your project management team to:
- Understand the project's requirements, concept, and business development needs
- Define the use cases and decide if the idea is feasible
- Gather all of the data and management tools required for the project
This step aims to identify the project's vital needs, place in the market, objectives, and feasibility. Consider hiring or consulting a business analyst to help you establish the project scope and define success criteria. The right hire should narrow the project scope and address pain points as early as possible.
Step 2: Propose Solutions to Pain Points
Pain points are recurring or persistent problems with a service or product that frequently annoys or inconveniences customers.
Once you have established the project scope, look for solutions to address pain points. Keep in mind that there might be several solutions to each challenge.
After creating a list of potential solutions, discuss them with stakeholders to determine the best course of action.
Step 3: Create a Full POC
Next, create a full POC that can be used to test the proposed product's features and functions. The POC should have all the core features you decided upon, including those affecting the UI and user experience (UX).
Testing Proof of Concept for Viability
The whole team and stakeholders will test the POC once finished. Be sure to record their feedback as they test the POC. Focus on the user experience, such as how intuitive the UI is and users' frustrations when using the POC.
After receiving feedback, you must implement the changes required to evolve the product. This will solve any issues with the identified pain points and help you develop a more user-friendly and functional product.
You may want to consider redesigning the product if the feedback is mostly negative. Depending on the severity of the issues, consider putting the project on hold. This will give you more time and space to develop a better version of your proposed project.
Proof of Concept Examples
To help you understand POCs better, here are two sample proofs of concept.
Game Development POC
Suppose a game development company is creating a virtual reality (VR) horror game. Before investing significant resources and time to develop the game fully, they could create a POC to showcase the core gameplay mechanics, aesthetics, and player experience. This POC is a short trailer that shows the first 10 minutes of the game's first level. It also shows the inventory system, how the enemies identify and attack the player and the overall feel and atmosphere of the game. This footage can help the company validate its idea and build an audience of future customers before the game's release.
Video-Editing Software POC
Suppose a software development company is creating video-editing software for PC and Mac systems. Before building the actual product, the company builds an interactive mockup POC for stakeholders and potential users. This mockup allows users to explore and interact with various features, such as:
- The import tool: Users can click a button or drag and drop media files from their computer onto the mockup. This simulates the workflow of importing image, audio, and video files into the video-editing software.
- The UI: The interactive mockup lets users explore the software's UI, including the timeline, toolbars, menus, editing controls, and filters.
- Preview and playback: The mockup also allows users to preview their edited video in the interface. They can see the visual changes, review the timeline, and experiment with audio settings.
How Revelo Can Help Build Your Team & Scale Product Development
Creating a POC can be time-consuming, especially if you lack resources, expertise, and staff.
Luckily, Revelo can help. We match businesses with information technology professionals in U.S. time zones. Our talent has been rigorously tested for soft skills, technical skills, and English proficiency. We can also help you with onboarding, taxes, benefits administration, payroll, and local compliance, so you can focus on building your products.
Contact Revelo to start hiring POC talent today.