5 steps to a successful proof of concept

Imagine you have a brilliant idea for an innovative product: you design this product, develop it and launch it, but your customers are not interested! Or, you start building it and you find that the technology involved is not yet proven, or non-existent: again, failure is guaranteed.

This is a common problem for any business that wants to innovate: More than 30,000 new consumer products are released each year, but only 20% of them are successful. How do you make sure your idea doesn’t turn into 80% failure?

A proof of concept is an initial test, but also a validation of the product idea – and that’s an important part of the equation. Developing a proof of concept is a way to test, refine and prove the future success of your product. In this article we’ll explain what a proof of concept is, as well as how to create and test a proof of concept.

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Proof of Concept and Prototype: What are the differences?

Proof of Concept – Definition

A proof of concept (abbreviated “POC” for English “proof of concept”) is a short exercise aimed at testing an idea or design hypothesis.

The main goal of developing a PoC is to demonstrate functionality while verifying a certain concept or principle that can be effectively realized in product development.

Whereas a PoC is only designed to verify the functionality of a set of concepts to be integrated into one or the other systems: the possibility of its use in the real world is not even considered, when a proof of concept When creating, as integrated technologies are not only time-consuming, but can also undermine the ability to determine whether the fundamentals are viable. The objective of this exercise is to identify the features of the product and its viability as well as its relevance, before commencing its development.

Prototype – Definition

Prototyping is a completely different exercise. It is also valuable because it allows you to visualize the operation of the product. It is a “real”, interactive and functional model of the final product that gives an idea of ​​its design. Whereas a POC shows how a product or feature can be developed, a prototype shows how it will be developed.

A prototype is the first attempt at building a functional model that can be used in the real world and validate the PoC. If things go wrong during prototyping, never mind: identifying design problems is the primary goal of building a prototype. A prototype has almost all the functionality of the final product, but it will usually not be as efficient, artistically designed or durable.

Main objectives of proof of concept

1. Capture the interest of early investors

You can form a POC to present your idea to the investors for the purpose of getting the necessary funds for further development.

2. Innovate

Innovation occurs at the intersection of technological feasibility and market demand. A PoC will help you check whether your idea can be built using current technology and if it meets the potential of meeting your audience.

3. Save Time

When you check that your idea can be built before anything else, you save time: the time spent on solving technical feasibility problems will be wasted after hiring developers and devoting considerable resources.

4. Choose a Technique

Creating multiple POCs using different technologies can help you decide which one is best for your project. That way, as you progress, you’ll know what’s possible, and how to structure your product roadmap.

5. Study the Competition

If you are planning to launch a product in a highly competitive market, a proof of concept will help you validate the features of your offer. Your product will need to incorporate a unique approach to solving the same problem as your competitors, in order to be a better alternative to what already exists.

Main Objectives of a Prototype

1. Convince Investors

A prototype is a great way to get investors to consider and support your product, especially in the fundraising phase.

2. Optimize Resources

When you start with a prototype, you can identify items that have flaws and need to be addressed before development work can begin.

3. Iterative Design

Prototyping tools help designers create multiple design iterations in a relatively short amount of time. So you can choose the best performing design and do internal experiments.

4. Collect Feedback

A prototype allows you to send your product to test users for initial feedback. User testing during this phase can go a long way toward improving and correcting the final product design, while giving any defects plenty of time to correct.

5. Perfect the Idea

With a prototype, you can simplify your product idea, or conversely enhance it with other functions and turn it into an attractive format. If a proof of concept has confirmed that the idea can be created, then a prototype will take the idea into concrete form.

Main Objectives of a Prototype

Let us now look at the different steps in creating a proof of concept.

Step 1: Display the need for the product

When presenting their POC, the project manager should establish the product requirement by mentioning who the target market is and what their needs are. However, in stating customer needs, the project manager should not assume what they are. He must obtain genuine and verified answers: To do this, the project manager can obtain these answers by interrogating a representative sample of potential customers. He can ask these customer frustrations in-depth questions about what they want from a product, what user experience they want, etc. to ease this annoyance.

This allows the project manager to clearly capture the feelings and perspectives of their target, while obtaining a list of specific points to include in their POC.

Step 2: Find the Solution

Based on the sample group’s responses, the project manager can now begin brainstorming with his team on solutions to customer problems, keeping in mind that they need to be feasible and within the range of financial and business techniques.

The team should evaluate each solution through cost, schedule, required technologies, operational capabilities, competition, resources and other factors.

Additionally, to strengthen the proposal, the team should discuss how its solution can help achieve the goals of the organization or project stakeholders.

You don’t need to be a perfectionist when considering, at least in the initial stages. You’d be surprised how half-hearted ideas can lead to the best solution.

Step 3: Build and Test a Prototype

Once the team comes up with a workable idea, they can build a prototype based on the requirements, features and the chosen solution.

Then you have to let the people in the sample group try and test the finished prototype as follows: this makes it possible to determine whether the product actually reacts to the sensitive points shared by the group.

Testing it with the same group makes it easier to document the feedback, which is essential for the next step.

There is no need to focus on building the perfect prototype. Although you should exercise caution and caution, don’t get stuck in this phase for longer than necessary.

Build and test a prototype

Step 4: Collect and document the feedback

During prototype testing, the project manager should collect and document feedback from the sample group about their experience, feedback and any other useful details, including how they feel about the user interface.

The comments thus collected will allow the team to verify the relevance and feasibility of the solution. They also inform the team of any improvements to be made to the proposed prototype and provide important information for further steps.

So that the team can quickly view the answers they collect, they can save the comments in their project management software, for example via a cloud-based platform. This way, it will be easier for your project team to access the data and for the sample group to participate and collaborate.

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Step 5: Submit the PoC for approval

The concept has been tested and improved based on the first feedback, the project manager can now prepare his/her presentation for the stakeholders.

They should present, among other things, the problems to be solved by the product, the functionalities that answer these problems, and the techniques involved to explain the feasibility of the idea.

After developing and determining the components of product development and project management, they must also present their project follow-up, success criteria and project management measures, means of evaluation, schedule, required resources and all aspects. discussed above.

Once the idea is presented and the parties concerned have been convinced and a decision has been taken to make an investment, it can start implementing it.

In a POC, the focus is on what the product offers, not on its features.

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