Proof of concept development solves problems that can cost your business money when you only have an idea concept for your product. In fact, at the proof of concept development stage, you can find out if your idea is practical or feasible, what value it can bring to you and your customers or users, and what resources are necessary to transform a concept idea into reality.
What is a Proof of Concept in the Software Development Lifecycle?
Proof of concept (POC) in software is a real-life confirmation that the idea will work as you’ve expected in the particular business environment while being powered by a set of technologies.
Proof of concept development is a general approach to testing the idea (and the business plan connected with it!) and determining whether it is feasible, viable, and can be built in the real world. It allows you to understand whether your product is able to solve real problems of real people and whether it’s physically possible to translate a particular concept into an actual product using existing technologies.
Building a proof of concept is the next necessary step after an idea concept invention – it helps you avoid wasting time, money, and effort at the very beginning of a project. On the long way to establishing a fully functional product welcomed by users, proof of concept development is the first milestone that can be reached within several days or weeks, depending on the complexity of your idea. This analysis stage allows you to avoid costly mistakes while verifying the hypothesis and proving that the initial idea makes sense, which is crucial for startups that usually have a limited budget and time to break into a market.
It is the basis you rely upon when you get onto the next steps of product creation – system simulation (a prototype), draft system development (an MVP), and final (pilot) product development, which consume much more resources and time. You can also find the explanation of the difference between these three – a prototype, an MVP, and a pilot.
Like any other software development project, proof of concept development also involves certain steps necessary to answer the questions about ability to transform your concept into reality.
What Can You Test at the Proof of Concept Development Stage?
There are several different aspects of proof of concept development that give valuable insight into the process of idea concept testing. Here are the most crucial ones based on Cprime’s experience:
- Testing the business part. It gives a foothold for product and marketing teams responsible for creating new features and making them work. We check out the business part of the idea to find out how much the product in development will be valuable to the audience.
- Testing the technological part. We look if the idea can work on equipment powered by today’s technologies. It allows us to understand how risky it is. This analysis doesn’t require deploying a full-fledged infrastructure or a database creation – at this stage, we just test the possibility. Here’s one of the proof of concept examples in the technological part: one of our clients wanted their app to continue working when the Internet connection was interrupted – to test the idea we created an empty database to figure out how the data would be transmitted.
- Testing a prototype. The next stage after POC tested the very idea of a product. It is the business and technological part of your idea assembled into something that works. Checking separate ideas individually is not the same as testing a complete application. But a prototype can do that – our client can show it to the stakeholders and get funds for the next stage.
Insights the Proof of Concept Development Can Provide
The two key results of conducting a proof of concept are:
- Yes, the idea is feasible – we can work further.
- No, the idea is not feasible – we should think about something different.
If yes, you can dive deeper and also find out:
- How likely users are to adopt or use the product. Creating a POC and showing it to a select group of future customers should protect you from being misguided by false values and help you stay in touch with reality.
- Whether your idea is technically feasible or not. You have to research different technologies to determine the most suitable one to implement your concept idea. When you know what technical solution you want to use, you can find the development team familiar with the technology needed to deploy it.
- The technical issues or potential risks (if there are any) related to implementation and their solutions.
- Your budget: you can accurately plan your budget and allocate resources only when you know how to implement your idea and understand the technology and possible challenges on the way to implementing essential functionalities. With technical knowledge, you can make informed decisions on which corners to cut.
Benefits of Proof of Concept Development
Developing a proof of concept is cheaper than the failure of a final product. It is better to spend a couple of thousand on a POC than to lose much more in investments and return.
Proof of concept proves that your software idea can be a unique product that is of interest to the target audience. You get an understanding of what to implement and know which particular problem your final product addresses.
- It can help you attract investors interested in the original idea and funding-proven concepts at an early stage.
- You can save time and money when you can prove whether your business plan makes sense.
- POC allows you and your team to have the same vision of tasks, risks, and possible challenges like false values, technical issues, and other pain points.
- Getting knowledge of the market and competitors: POC analysis gives you a clear picture of unique features (provided you test them with customers) and helps you find solutions to attract future users.
- Testing the technological part allows you to select the best technology stack for the software based on your needs.
- It also lets you onboard initial clients for an early version before an official software release.
Proof of Concept Development Use Case: Creating an App From Scratch to Fill the Market Gap
Our client wanted to design an app for lost ski equipment tracking that would be more useful than the apps available on the market.
We had to validate the hypothesis and find out what technology could power this possible app. Our task was to identify the firmware that could allow us to build a tracker that wouldn’t need a cellular connection while providing better ski equipment discoverability and costing less than $30 to track a pair of skis.
First, we investigated solutions available in the market and examined shortfalls in competitor apps to identify a possible gap to fill. User interviews were conducted to clearly define the problem the app could solve. We drafted a business model that would ensure profitability and selected several tech architecture designs that could fulfill initial requirements for cost and functionality.
Within 12 weeks, we created raw hardware prototypes that matched acceptance criteria and chose the tech architecture that provided maximized profit and competitive advantage. After that, the required team effort to match the desired velocity was estimated with an established budget. Then we defined a backlog of features for MVP development and prioritized them. And, after the proof of concept showed to be successful, we staffed the team for MVP development.
Proof of Concept is the most important stage in software development. It helps you to avoid mistakes and get better risk management options – especially when you are developing a complex, lengthy and costly project. If you think your knowledge and experience are not enough to check if your idea has a good chance to be launched in the market – hiring a tech partner could be the right choice.
Our experience allows us to help you at any stage of your software development cycle from concept development to final product, including POC. Cprime can validate the product at the idea stage to see if it’s worth further developing. We help you to ensure that the product, even though minimal in functionalities and features, is well designed and performs seamlessly, and it solves the problem that is intended to be solved with the final product. And we can continue to collaborate to develop your product and launch it for success.