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Creating a Proof of Concept: Practical Guide to Software Development

1 13 min read Business Process Optimization, Corporate Innovation, Mobile App Development
Iterators

Iterators

Tech & Business

Proof of concept is key to the software development process. Check out this practical guide for what it is and how to create one now.

Any software development project starts with an idea, whether good or bad. With any luck, they’re always great ideas, but if they were, we wouldn’t need to talk about proofs of concept.

These ideas need to be investigated and validated as part of the software development process. Analyzing and validating a conception is called creating a proof of concept.

A proof of concept is a prototyped solution that allows developers to explore the feasibility of an idea and validate assumptions.

The primary purpose of a proof of concept is to assess the technical viability of a proposed solution. A proof of concept isn’t a complete product and isn’t meant to be deployed in production environments. Creating a proof of concept is the first step in the software development process. It’s also essential for any software development project.

Creating a proof of concept is vital to the software development process. Having a clear and concise guide will allow you to validate your ideas and assumptions early on. It’ll save you valuable resources, such as time and money, in the long run. Plus, it’ll help you avoid headaches!

This blog post will go over the critical components of a proof of concept and how to create one effectively.

Already have a Proof of Concept? At Iterators, we can design, build, and maintain custom software solutions for both startups and enterprise businesses.

iterators proof of concept cta

Schedule a free consultation with Iterators today. We’d be happy to help you find the right software solution to help your company.

What Is Proof of Concept? (POC)

Proof of Concept, or POC, is a type of experiment or test. It’s done to check if a particular solution, technology, or strategy can be successful in the real world. It’s usually done before investing time and resources into something to ensure it’s worth pursuing.

POCs are generally small-scale and short-term. They aim to answer specific questions or solve particular problems. Technology and strategy are constantly changing and improving. You want to be sure that you’re using the most up-to-date, practical solutions as a business.

Many industries and fields use POCs in their product development process, for example:

  • Project Management
  • Software Development
  • Business Development

While a POC may not always be necessary, it can benefit many situations. For example, let’s say that you’re thinking about implementing a new software system. You’ll probably want to do a proof of concept (POC) to ensure it works as intended and meets your needs.

Similarly, if you’re thinking about changing your marketing strategy, a POC can help you determine if the new process is likely to be successful.

Benefits of Creating a POC

benefits of creating a proof of concept infographic

There are many benefits to creating a Proof of Concept (POC). A POC can help validate an idea, test a hypothesis, or prove that a specific approach is feasible. A POC can help identify potential risks and roadblocks early in the development process.

The purpose of a proof of concept is to demonstrate that the idea for the project is feasible. It’s also used to test the feasibility of the proposed technical solution.

The proof of concept should be small and concise. It shouldn’t be a complete working system. By creating a POC, developers can save time and money in the long run.

A proof of concept also provides valuable information that can be used to determine whether a project or product is feasible. It can also determine how useful it’ll be to potential investors and decision-makers.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what other benefits creating a POC can provide.

Understanding Market Needs

Developing a proof of concept can be a daunting task. But it’s essential to understand market needs before starting the project. The first step in any project is to know your audience. After identifying and knowing your target market, you can begin to understand their specific needs.

This process can be done in different ways, such as:

  • Market research
  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups

Once you have a solid understanding of market needs, you can begin to create a proof of concept that will meet them. Developing a practical guide will help ensure a successful final product.

Organization

Creating a proof of concept can be difficult. However, the process can be much more straightforward by breaking the task into smaller, manageable pieces.

Start by creating a list of tasks that need to be completed. Then, break those tasks down into smaller steps. For each job, decide what needs to be done to achieve it.

For example, if you need to create a new software program, you’ll need to determine the requirements. Once the requirements are known, you can begin designing the program.

Once you have a plan, you may begin working on the first task. As you fulfill each task, check it off of your list. Doing this will help you stay on track and motivated as you work through the process.

If you get stuck in a bottleneck, don’t hesitate to ask for help from others. There are many resources available to software developers. So there’s no need to do it alone. With some help and organization, you can create a proof of concept that will be a valuable resource for years to come.

Feasibility of the Concept

The concept of a feasibility study is to analyze and evaluate a proposed plan or project to determine if it’s likely to succeed. The study is used to determine if the project is achievable and if it’s the right project to undertake.

It’ll help you identify potential problems or risks that could impact the project’s success. It’s necessary to conduct the study before undertaking any project. It can ensure that the project will be successful.

Limitations of the Concept

A proof of concept can be used to test new ideas or approaches to solving a problem. While a proof of concept can be a valuable tool in the software development process, it’s important to remember that it isn’t a guarantee of success for the final product. The proof of concept should be seen as a starting point for further development, not an end.

Financial Implications

Creating a proof of concept can have financial implications. These can include the cost of software, hardware, and services. The time needed to develop the proof of concept can also add to the financial implications.

Proof of Concept vs. Prototype

proof of concept vs prototype vs mvp vs pilot

A proof of concept is simply an experiment to test whether an idea can be translated into a viable product. At the same time, a prototype is a preliminary version of that product. However, there’s often more to these concepts than meets the eye.

A proof of concept is generally less expensive and time-consuming than a prototype, as it’s often little more than a simulated or scaled-down version of the product.

The goals of a POC are to validate the technical feasibility of a proposed solution and to assess the likely business impact. If a POC is successful, it can lead to the development of a prototype or even a full-fledged system.

On the other hand, a prototype is usually a more functional and polished version of the product. Meant to test all of the product’s intended features. It’s an essential step in the development process. Prototype allows you to work out any kinks in the design before mass production.

In most cases, a prototype will be created after a successful proof of concept to validate the product idea further.

Proof of Concept vs. MVP

When starting a new software development project, it’s important to create a prototype or “minimum viable product” (MVP). It’s used to test the project’s feasibility. The MVP should highlight the core functionality of the software and be able to be deployed quickly and easily. It’s important to keep the MVP as simple as possible to be easily tested and iterated upon.

It ensures the proof of concept is focused on demonstrating the feasibility of the software and its core functionality. Include any key features that are essential to the success of the software. Keeping the MVP simple will make it easier to create a successful proof of concept and avoid unnecessary complexity.

Once the MVP is created, it can be used as a proof of concept to attract investors and get the project off the ground. Both proofs of concept and MVPs validate whether an idea has potential.

However, a proof of concept is typically more detailed and is used to validate the technical feasibility of an idea. In contrast, an MVP is used to validate the commercial viability of an idea.

Proof of Concept vs. Pilot

A POC may be developed to prove that a particular technology, design, product, or feature—or combination thereof—is feasible and to determine whether it’s worth pursuing. Pilots are small-scale implementations of a system or policy.

A pilot’s main purpose is to test whether a system or approach works in practice and gather information about how well it works and what problems arise. To be valid, pilots must be carefully designed and monitored.

POCs and pilots are two different approaches for testing the feasibility of a new idea or system. POCs are typically used to test the technical feasibility of an idea, while pilots are used to test the practical feasibility of a system.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to piloting a software development project. On the advantages side, piloting allows for a risk reduction strategy by highlighting potential problems early on. It also allows the development team to fix them before they cause serious issues.

Additionally, piloting provides invaluable feedback from users that can be used to improve the final product.

When it comes to disadvantages, piloting can be expensive and time-consuming. It isn’t always possible to replicate the final user environment in the pilot phase. Also, there’s always the risk that the pilot won’t be successful and that the development team will have to start from scratch.

A proof of concept is a demonstration, typically to investors, that a particular concept or idea has the potential to be successful. On the other hand, a pilot is a test run of a project or initiative, typically on a small scale, to evaluate its feasibility or effectiveness.

So, in the context of the guide as mentioned above, a proof of concept would show that the proposed software development project has potential. A pilot, instead, would test out the actual software development process on a small scale. Proof of concept is all about feasibility, while the pilot is about effectiveness.

Steps to Create a Proof of Concept

A Proof of Concept (POC) is a demonstration, usually within a controlled environment, that a certain theory or concept has the potential to be turned into a viable business or technology application.

Dos and Don’ts

In developing a proof of concept (POC), it’s important to consider the “dos and don’ts” to ensure a successful outcome. Here are some key considerations:

DO:

  • Keep it simple. The POC should be a focused and narrowly-defined project that can be completed within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Involve key stakeholders. Ensure that those using and/or evaluating the POC are involved in its development.
  • Define success criteria. Establish what success looks like for the POC so that you can measure whether or not it has been successful.

DON’T:

  • Overcomplicate things. Remember that the POC is meant to be a simple demonstration of viability, not a fully-fledged product.
  • Go it alone. Involve key stakeholders from the outset to get buy-in and ensure a successful outcome.
  • Leave things open-ended. Define success criteria for the POC so that you know when you’ve achieved it.

Examples:

proof of concept pixar geris game example
Pixar’s Geri’s Game screencap

Pixar:

Sometimes Pixar will create short films to test out new complex animation methods. If the film is successful and animators are happy with the results, they’ll move forward with putting the new methods into their movies. The company used the short film Geri’s Game to test out human facial animations. Which they then used to make Toy Story and other full-length features featuring human characters.

Airbnb:

Airbnb allows co-hosting. It’s a partnership wherein someone rents out a property on their website, but someone else manages it. This was done after the company ran a POC in Tokyo. The company employed a team that matched apartment owners and co-hosts manually.

They used this POC to develop the algorithms for the co-hosting feature. The project was a complete simulation of what would happen on the app later, but with humans involved to make changes along the way.

Gaming Apps:

You may notice that many mobile gaming companies have similar games in their network. There are two reasons for this. First, mobile games make a ton of money.

Second, having multiple games with similar builds allows a company to create a POC in one game before launching features into similar games.

For example, Machine Zone (with a revenue of $1.1 BILLION) used Game of War’s success to develop Mobile Strike features. They used updated bots to detect harassment in Game of War to test their effectiveness before placing them into Mobile Strike. They also ran a POC to detect fake accounts used to cheat in GoW.

Now, here’s a closer look at the steps involved in creating a POC:

the steps to create a proof of concept infographic

1. Define the Problem That You Are Trying to Solve with Your POC

Before beginning any software development project, it’s necessary to define the problem you’re trying to solve. Otherwise, you risk building something that doesn’t address the root issue.

When creating a POC, it’s important to keep the scope small and focused. Solving too many problems at once will only make things more complicated. So it’s essential to have a clear view of what problem you’re trying to solve before beginning to develop one.

It means defining the problem you’re trying to solve as best and as specifically as possible.

What are the underlying causes of this problem? What are its effects? What are some potential solutions?

By clearly defining the problem you’re trying to solve, you can develop a better tailored POC to address it and are more likely to be successful. Once you have a working POC, you can then use it as a foundation to expand your solution and build a more comprehensive solution.

2. Research and Identify Potential Solutions to That Problem

Organizations often face the challenge of creating a proof of concept for software development projects. By thoroughly researching and identifying the best solution for your organization’s needs, you can create a proof of concept to provide valuable insights and feedback for your software development project.

Valuable insights are essential to create a proof of concept that is both practical and guide-worthy. Such insights can be difficult to come by, but they’re worth the effort as they can make a significant difference between failure and success.

There are many factors to consider when developing a proof of concept. And it’s important to take the time to understand them before making any decisions. The insights gained from this process can be invaluable, so it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

3. Create a Prototype of Your Chosen Solution

A prototype is an acting model of your solution that allows you to test your assumptions and gather feedback from potential users. It’s important to create a prototype early on in the development process so that you can validate your ideas and make necessary changes before investing too much time and resources.

There are many different ways to create a prototype, and the best approach will vary depending on the type of project and the resources available. In some cases, it may be sufficient to create a paper prototype using cardboard cutouts or sticky notes. For more complex projects, you may need to create a digital prototype using a tool such as Adobe XD or Figma.

Once you have created your prototype, it’s important to test it with potential users and get feedback. It’ll help you identify areas where your solution needs to be improved.

4. Test Your Prototype in a Controlled Environment

Before you can release your software to the public, you need to test your prototype in a controlled environment. It aids in finding and fixing any bugs or problems before your users encounter them.

There are a few ways to do this: first, you can test your software yourself. This process is called “alpha testing.” Second, you can hire someone to test your software for you. This one is called “beta testing.”

Finally, you can release your software to a small group of users and see how they react to it. This process is called “release candidate testing.”

Whichever method you prefer, make sure you test your prototype in a controlled environment before releasing it to the public. It will help you ensure that your software is ready for prime time.

5. Evaluate the Results of Your Prototype Test and Determine Whether Your POC Was Successful

After you have completed your prototype test, it’s important to evaluate the results to determine whether your POC was successful. It’s important to consider the success criteria you defined at the beginning of the project.

Did you achieve your goals? If not, why? Was the proof of concept successful in demonstrating the viability of your proposed solution?

It’s also important to ask whether the proof of concept was the right approach for your project. Would a different strategy have been more successful? What did you learn from the process that you can apply to future projects?

Based on this information, you should be able to determine whether or not your POC was successful and if it’s worth continuing to develop.

Proof of Concept Examples

A proof of concept is a demonstration, usually within a controlled environment, that a particular concept or idea will work. A strong proof of concept should show how the idea would work in the real world and be able to be replicated on a larger scale.

Some examples of a proof of concept are:

  • Proof of concept for an application that helps people plan their weddings. The app shows wedding guests what kind of food and drinks they can order based on their budget and preferences.
  • Proof of concept for a website that helps people find apartments. Users enter their desired location and search radius. Then, the site displays apartments that meet those parameters.
  • Proof of concept that demonstrates how a new product could improve customer service. The company creates a mockup of a new phone system and tests it out with customers.
proof of concept conclusion image

Conclusion

If you want to create a proof of concept for your software development project, this guide will show you how. By following the pragmatic steps outlined in this guide, you can create a prototype that will provide validation of your idea and help you get feedback from potential users.

So what are you waiting for? Get started today and see if your software development project has what it takes to be a success.

1 Comment

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the article. Now, let’s start the discussion!

1. What do you think about the process of creating a Proof of Concept? How neccessary is it in your opinion?

2. Have you ever made one? If so, what was the biggest difficulty you faced during the process?

3. Do you know any other interesting Proof of Concept examples that started an amazing business? Or ones that failed?

As always, we’d love to know what you think! Just leave us a comment. Also, let us know if you have any questions. We are more than happy to answer them for you!

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