What is a proof of concept?
A proof of concept (PoC) is evidence that an idea or a concept (usually a product idea) can be applied in the real world. It tends to be a document or a presentation that that project managers use to demonstrate how feasible an idea is and whether it justifies the costs involved in making that idea a reality.
It is also known as a proof of principle. It also displays the results of tests conducted to verify the feasibility of the idea, product, or plan.
Why is proof of concept important?
A proof of concept is far more important than you may imagine it to be. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Helps you understand the limits of the idea
How scalable is the idea? Once you are close to exceeding those limits, how will you continue scaling? A proof of concept helps you answer these questions.
2. Allow you to prepare for risks
It also helps you understand what challenges you will face while and after implementing the idea, giving you a chance to figure out how to overcome the challenges.
3. Attracts investors
A proof of concept shows that an idea is viable and will not be a waste of time and money. It helps you demonstrate the usability and scalability of a concept before you request resources.
How is a proof of concept different from a prototype?
While ‘proof of concept’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘prototype’, they aren’t the same thing.
The purpose of a proof of concept is to demonstrate a product’s functionality and confirm that the idea is achievable. A prototype is more like an early working model and gives developers a chance to visualize a product, figure out how it should be designed, and observe how it actually functions.
A PoC tends to assume an idea’s usability and only seeks to confirm that the idea and be realized and the product can be built. Prototypes have to consider all variables and they should be usable in the real world.
How do you create a proof of concept?
Here are the steps involved in writing a proof of concept:
1. Illustrate the need
Define your target market and showcase their pain points and challenges. You need to do actual market research here instead of simply making assumptions.
Brainstorm and create a list of potential solutions. Don’t be a perfectionist, accept ideas that are in their nascent stages as well. Building on such ideas might help you come up with an effective solution.
Now eliminate ideas, leaving the most feasible ones on the list and then proceed to pick the most effective solution from your shortlisted ideas.
3. Test the idea
It’s time to create a prototype and test your solution. This is only an early model and does not need to be perfect.
4. Gather results and feedback
Document the results of the test, along with feedback from the sample group that used the solution.
You can even improve the prototype based on the feedback and test it again, till the results and the feedback are good enough.
5. Finalize the draft
Now it’s time to write the final draft, highlighting the target and their pain points that you wish to solve, along with the features that will solve these problems. You should also mention the technologies that will be incorporated into the solution.
You should also include timelines, performance & project management metrics, along with the resources required to build and implement the solution.