A Complete Guide for Proof of Concept In Successful Software Development

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Chanchal

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 3, 2021

We agree that ideation is exciting. All the brainstorming sessions often inspires members to come up with new ideas that will solve problems. 

Every second, there are new innovations in technology that are touching millions of lives, either directly or indirectly. However, thousands of projects fail every day. Don’t be surprised.

The original ideas are poorly tested, brining in false value for the project. Thus, the project starts to go in the wrong direction from the very start. 

But it can be easily avoided by using the Proof of Concept (POC) approach. Many software developers use proof of concept to determine the value and verify if the theory or idea is achievable or not. 

Let us understand the proof of concept in detail.

What is Proof of Concept? 

In general terms, proof of concept implies the approach that leads to the development and implementation of a new idea. The idea is aimed at defining whether the concept is viable and applicable in practice.

It helps determine if the idea is feasible enough to solve a particular problem. 

It involves testing a particular assumption to demonstrate its functionality. This proof of concept is applicable in various fields, including marketing, medicine, and more. However, proof of concept in software development follows a specific process.

Proof of concept in custom software development refers to a process that helps avoid technical problems, determines the likelihood of being adopted by its intended users, and allows you to gather feedback at an early stage of the development cycle. Thus, it helps reduce unnecessary risks and keeps the project on track. 

Why Do You Need Proof of Concept Exactly? 

The above explains is the very first reason why proof of concept is controversial. The person who comes up with the idea is completely convinced that it will work.

But by applying the proof of concept approach, it helps to derive the best version of the project. For starters, it reduces the risk factor involved and saves you time and money in the process. 

Furthermore, you are not alone. You need to convince the stakeholders that the idea is worth investing in.

Multiple organizations are involved in creating something of value. This proof of concept document helps persuade the interested parties that the idea has actual value and real-time effect. 

The need for proof of concept project arises in the following cases:

  • When there is a need to check the value of the idea of any changes in the plan.
  • To ensure that the chosen method of workflow is right.
  • To determine whether the proposed project matches the expectations of the intended users.
  • To find out the limitations of the solution for a specific problem and demonstrate its functionality.

Although whether you are creating entirely new software or adding new features onto an existing one, the proof of concept system will make sure that you complete the project. 

Situations Where Proof of Concept Can be Applied in Software Development

Let’s look at some of the case scenarios where one can apply proof of concept:

  1. Let’s just say a client is looking for ways to solve a problem faced every day at the workplace. As a suggestion, an app can be developed that will significantly help the company. But then the question comes to this — is the idea feasible or viable? 

That’s when you can use proof of concept to determine its feasibility and adaptability. Here, the proof of concept approach is used to find an optimal way to achieve the outcome rather than focusing on the deliverables. 

2. Proof of concept is viable for scenarios where the developers need to find the best technologies that they can use to create a well-optimized app.  Such a process is generally conducted at the start of the app development process and is carried out internally. It helps form a project road map.

This brings us to our next question — how to conduct a proof of concept?

There are specific steps that need to be followed (which we will discuss later in the article). However, to draw up the criteria list, you need first to answer a few questions. 

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In other words, proof of concept checklist:

  • Goals: What are we trying to achieve? 
  • Testing: What are the specifications that need to be tested? 
  • Timeline: Is it achievable in the given time frame? 
  • Implementation: How will this be implemented into the workflow exactly? 
  • Value: Does the project have any real value that we are trying to create? 
  • Resource: Do we have enough funds to complete the project? 

This is where the team members start researching and begin to develop a solution or feature. 

Steps to Conduct a Concrete Proof of Concept Process 

Follow these steps to convert your PoC into a viable and actionable solution: 

1. Gather Full Knowledge on the Product

The first step involves gathering as much information on the product that you are trying to develop. It should, after all, provide a solution to the problem that you are trying to solve. It could be either related to improving employees’ productivity at work or trying to reach a new market that hasn’t been served before. 

In any case, the software that you are trying to build should meet the needs. 

Be clear of the pain points that your intended users are experiencing. Interview both users and stakeholders, and ask them about the implication of each pain point. It ensures that every aspect is taken into account. 

2. Map Every Pain Points to the Solution

Once you have identified those pain points, you need to find ways to solve them. 

This is where you engage in brainstorming sessions with your team members or colleagues and discuss all the possible solutions. There will be many ways to solve the problem. However, you will need to evaluate every solution about cost, time, competition, resources, and other technical challenges. 

In the end, you should have a clear answer to which solution you are going to use in the final product. Moreover, once you have decided on the solution, you should try communicating the same to the target audience and stakeholders to see their reaction. 

Tell them what you have envisaged for the product and gather their feedback. 

3. Build a Prototype of Your Product and Test It

After you have decided on a solution, the next step is to create a prototype of the product. The prototype should have the expected UI/UX set and other features. Use the prototype to test with those you are planning to target. It will give you more inputs as to what is lacking and what needs to be improved. 

Gather feedback on its functionality, interface, ease of use, and more. 

4. Create a Minimal Value Product (MVP)

To make sure that you have a product that delivers the right feature and experience, a minimum value product is built. 

You might have a great software idea; however, it doesn’t mean that you have the right product with the right features. That’s where MVP comes in. It is an early version of the product you are trying to build. It helps you find out the finest execution of the proof of concept that can be a successful product.

You can use the MVP to test it in front of a small group of your interviewees that represents your target audience. You will have more feedback and will tell you if the product is viable or not. 

Also, Read: Why You Need MVP for Mobile App Development?

5. Create Technical Specifications – A Roadmap

The management team has to collaborate with the entire team. And then, outline a step-to-step guide on how to go about the things in detail. 

With the help of all the information collected, it will be easy to build a roadmap. This roadmap is the blueprint of the entire way of working for making the product. You can have a proof of concept checklist that might include: 

  • Creating a hierarchical organizational chart for easy supervision of the work 
  • List of all the stages of work that needs to be done
  • Assigning tasks to different members so that they can be held accountable

It ensures that everyone, including the developers, stakeholders, or investors, remains on the same page throughout the process. 

Conclusion

Before we conclude, one crucial thing to note is:

Documentation is the key. 

You should document every step and detail for your proof of concept projects, including the steps of installation, step-up and configuration, results of all tests performed, feedback gathered, and final findings. 

Besides, documentation will help the supporting team to replicate the same product. And, it supports all members within the organization to clearly understand the proof of concept steps. 

Remember that proof of concept is your tangible evidence that your idea is worthwhile, and it saves you from spending a lot of money in case the project is not viable. 

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Chanchal Soni is a Growth Hacker and CRO Specialist at Appitsimple. She has experience in digital marketing, social media, content strategy, and marketing communications. Lover of huskies, the ocean & Boston sports.

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