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For this blog, we recommend starting with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) rather than trying out a full-fledged product at once. However, keep in mind that a proof of concept for a software development project is usually done before this step. Also, sometimes the MVP level was not reached.
Before proceeding with the project, we first need to clearly define the ideas and product directions. If the first idea is not well tested or the core values are not understood, the project will inevitably have problems with the wrong values. From there, at a later stage, sometimes hindering the final result. To avoid this situation, you should use a proof-of-concept (or POC) technique for software development. The term is well known, but less important. The proof of concept does not produce a product, but it does provide a specific vision and assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the project. This will help you find a clear solution so that your team can move in the right direction with the right spirit and product style.
What is Proof of Concept in Software Development?
Proof of concept in the context of custom software development is the verification of the functional or non-functional aspects of an information system or part of it, either by the technology domain or the user domain.
With respect to software, proof-of-concept experiments must demonstrate that a proposed system, application, product, variant or new function can work in real life before proper development.
There seem to be a variety of possible formats of PoC in software design and programming:
- Documentation about the feasibility of an idea, e.g., by citing similar solutions
- Win Lose or cost benefit analysis
- Experts assessment of a technical challenge and possible solutions
- Presentation of the concept and the product functionality
- Target audience/user research
- Wireframes of proposed web pages or screens
- Clickable prototype that allows users to test its usability
- Demo of a feature in question
- A plugin installed to see if an additional functionality works as expected
- Sample truncated version of the product
- Landing page presenting a novelty to target audience.
The simplest form is a Word document with a full concept description. It may suffice for experienced software developers to review this document and either confirm or deny your concept`s feasibility.
In LN Webworks, custom software development practice, PoC typically refers to the first programmed version of a future product. Create a PoC to implement a specific feature to test the technical aspects that raise concerns. Auxiliary functions such as registration, metric collection, application scaling, and optimization are omitted. There is usually one PoC for each feature.
Proof of Concept and MVP: Comparison
Proof-of-concept documentation sets the stage for later stages of product development, i.e. high-fidelity prototypes and the MVP itself.
A PoC can be called a “vertical” prototype: it consists of a basic user interface (UI) and a functional backend connected to a database to demonstrate functionality in action. . However, PoC cannot go into production. Software or functionality must be rewritten from scratch in order to be released.
In “horizontal” prototypes created with InVision, Figma, or Proto.io, clickable screens can be connected to each other through clickable buttons, drop-down lists, and interface elements other users with whom the user can interact. Prototypes also make it possible to run multiple tests and gather feedback from real users without releasing the product.
PoC and a design prototype may have the form, structure, and content and simulate the functions, navigation, and interactions of an actual product, but it is not. They are also not released to the public but are tested in a company or in a small controlled group of users, making changes until the results are ready to go to market.
Unlike PoC/prototype, MVP is a fully functional solution ready for target market or intended audience. Only the MVP can give correct answers if the product solves real people’s real problems. It puts the business model to the test, showing whether consumers value the software enough to pay for it. The MVP development can take up to 6 months, depending on the complexity and scope of the project.
MVP is still the simplest software version. Usually, it includes just enough features and functionality (sometimes just one) to attract the initial user base. The aim is to collect their feedback, see if it resonates with stakeholders and consumers, fix bugs, and improve the next version. This way, you can gradually modify the MVP according to the needs of the users until it becomes a full-fledged product and a market-fit product is achieved.
This is a sunny day scenario. Conversely, if an MVP fails in the market, there is still an opportunity to pivot. PoC/prototyping provides this opportunity sooner at a significantly lower cost.
Some of our clients present proof of concept development to attract investment or win bids at the start of a project. When it comes time to raise larger funds or move on to the next rounds of negotiations, they often choose to develop an MVP.
The conclusion is simple: it should not be PoC vs. MVP, but PoC + MVP.
Proof of Concept: Methods to Create
Iterative proof-of-concept process flow integrates design, development, testing, and evaluation processes. Among them, we can distinguish the following steps:
Identify the need
Start by formulating your business goals and the real problems the software or feature needs to solve. Describe the idea of the project, its goals and benefits. Think about the market you want to penetrate, your potential audience, your ideal customers, how users will use the software or features you offer, and how it will look.
Ideally, this step should include interviews with potential end users to determine their needs, pain points, and preferences. These people can be employees of a company or a sample of consumers in a new market. You don’t need to interview hundreds of people; Several people in the group expressed the same concern and should give you enough food to get you thinking.
The search for comparable solutions, if any, will provide many answers. This will also help visualize your business model to present to your team, potential customers and investors. This step will give you a list of identified goals and user problems to solve. You can continue to update this document as long as people read it and share their thoughts.
Imagine a solution
Think about potential solutions to the problems posed and ways to fill the gaps identified. The team is capable of making several choices, so it is helpful to prioritize them considering possible costs, your capabilities, competition, technical complexity, technology needed, limitations, time constraints, etc. You should narrow the list down to the most viable solutions that can best support your value proposition and achieve your business goals. This discussion should involve a technical expert who can say what is possible and what is not.
Keep PoC scope narrow. Focus on the problematic parts of your software and choose 13 features to test first. They must be directly related to the critical needs of the user. Present a list of solutions to the end users and stakeholders you interviewed and record their feedback.
Write down everything you have learned and created so far. It is important to have technical experts involved at this point, as you need to choose the platform, programming language, and tools for PoC development and testing and ultimately the MVP.
Gather your team
Just hire an experienced project manager, a programmer, maybe a solution architect, and a UX/UI designer familiar with projects in your field.
If you choose to hire an internal team, hiring them can take a long time, as long as the POC is created. The best way is to hire a software development company that can turn your ideas from A to Z faster and more cost-effectively while complying with all applicable intellectual property policies.
Either way, you need a software development team with the right resources, experienced developers, and a good knowledge of the market and industry.
At this stage, a developer or team of experts code a rudimentary product with basic functionality based on decided requirements, features, and solutions.
Depending on the nature of the product and your concerns about it, the designer can also develop a low fidelity or high fidelity interactive prototype that simulates the user experience (UX) Future.
The goal is to combine your proposed solutions into something that you can offer potential users and stakeholders for feedback. It doesn’t have to be a perfect representation of the product envisioned, so don’t focus on this stage longer than it takes to build a testable basic PoC prototype.
Choose indicators to test your ideas
You need an easy-to-understand set of metrics to analyse important information about PoC and its use. It is also necessary to define the inputs, the expected outcomes, and the criteria that must demonstrate success or failure.
If your tested PoC meets the predefined conditions, you can conclude that your idea is realistic and can be implemented. If it does not meet all the passing criteria, it is considered a failure.
Test your PoC and gather Feedback from Users and Stakeholders
It’s time for individuals in the sample group to try out the PoC prototype. 3060 people will do. You can involve existing customers or users, if you have one. It is desirable to create an environment that mimics the implementation of the proposed solutions.
Observe and record people’s interactions with it and ask about their experiences and opinions about your product using polls, surveys, and interviews. Be open to criticism and suggestions they may express.
Evaluate feature performance based on defined pass and fail criteria. It would be easy to tell immediately if PoC will solve common user problems. In addition to validating the usability, feasibility, and competitive advantage of your solution, you’ll also be able to spot UX errors, identify overlooked elements, and find ways to improve the product.
You can also guess whether the offered product or feature has the potential to be successful in the market. Whenever necessary and possible, try to show PoC to potential customers and measure simulated conversion rate.
Recording user feedback and other key performance metrics is essential for the next phase of your proof-of-concept development. The more information you have about what users want, the more opportunities you have to improve your product, saving you time and money.
Improve the realization of ideas and move on
Analyze feedback from registered users to understand what works and what doesn’t. Fix user-mentioned issues, improve core functionality, remove unnecessary things, redesign unpopular parts of the design, and implement sensible recommendations. Re-examine the improved PoC prototype.
A PoC that meets your success criteria is exciting and possible. This gives you the green light to move on to the next steps, namely the design and implementation of an MVP or a fully functional or software product.
LN Webworks Turn your Idea into a Viable Product!
Developing a proof-of-concept can be the first step towards creating a popular and profitable software product. However, it takes extensive research, decades of custom software development, knowledge accumulated over hundreds of projects, Agile thinking, and constant attention to technology trends and methodologies. Best practices for choosing the perfect technology for each unique project and identifying the underlying problems in advance.
If you have a business idea but don’t know where to start, why not contact LN Webworks? Our experts in a variety of fields can provide a free consultation, help you evaluate your idea after signing the NDA, and ultimately help turn your idea into a successful product.
LN WebworksYour Drupal Solution Partner
LN Webworks have championed open-source technologies for nearly a decade, bringing advanced engineering capabilities and agile practices to some of the biggest names across media, entertainment, education, travel, hospitality, telecommunications and other industries.