Almost 90% of startups are doomed to failure. Aren’t these stats horrifying? Failures are often caused by insufficient market research, the lack of funds, and the inability to meet customer needs. What if we said that we have a solution to all these problems that will significantly increase your chances of success?
The solution is simple: a proof of concept in software development. Today, we’ll go over this notion in further depth, discuss the benefits of this approach to software development, and show you how to create a PoC.
Proof of Concept in Software Development Explained
A proof of concept is a method that allows you to evaluate the feasibility and viability of an idea. It helps you determine if your product concept will work in real life and how exactly it will operate.
Although PoC is a methodology used in various fields, from marketing to healthcare, it has a specific application in the software development industry. So, what is proof of concept in software development? It is more than just a project’s idea feasibility test. PoC is also a term that applies to the first stage of the product development lifecycle.
Proof of concept involves meticulous planning and testing of your idea, initially delivered in the form of a test application. Aside from this mini-app, it also entails creating a supporting document with technical specifications and MVP development timeframes.
The proof of concept creation should involve all parties engaged in the project’s development. It is necessary so that all stakeholders can agree on the final product’s vision, discuss potential risks, opportunities, and a software development strategy. That makes the PoC a foundation for your project’s roadmap, without which you should by no means start developing, designing, testing, or launching a product.
The notion of a PoC is frequently confused with other phases of developing a technical solution, such as a prototype and MVP. It is reasonable, as all these three stages aim to test the project concept viability. Yet, there is a significant difference between them, which we will explain in the next section of our post.
What Is the Distinction Between Proof of Concept, Prototype, and MVP?
At first sight, the terms proof of concept, prototype, and MVP may appear similar and somewhat confusing. And you’re right: they are all connected by constituting the initial stages of software development. These are, however, distinct steps of project creation. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Proof of Concept
PoC is always a top priority in software development. Always. It is a detailed plan that outlines your concept, including how to implement it, its limitations, risks, opportunities, and goals. PoC is generally a small project that isn’t ready for the public yet. Its purpose is to cover only the critical functions and approve a concept within a company.
Take, for example, our case of esports Livescore analog PoC development. We tested APIs from which you can get data on teams, matches, and quotations. Thus, we could find a solution financially advantageous for the client while still implementing full functionality.
Once you create a proof of concept test app and technical documentation, you can move on to the next stage of executing your idea — developing a prototype.
Unlike the PoC test application with limited functionality, the prototype is a working model of your product. It is based on a proof of concept and implements the project’s core capabilities to demonstrate what your software can be and where you are heading.
If the PoC checks whether it is possible to apply any technology in your project, the prototype shows how it will look exactly. A prototype is also a product that you can show your audience to approve the visual part of your future application.
The prototype, for example, can take the form of a software wireframe or design layout. It means that you can view your product and even use some fundamental functions. Yet, it will be a rough realization of your concept.
After you have approved the prototype, you may proceed to the next step of development, which is to create a minimum viable product (MVP).
Minimum Viable Product
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept that is often confused with a prototype. In reality, this is the third step after you have prepared proof of concept and prototype. It involves developing software with basic functions that are enough to introduce your product to the market.
The primary distinction between the MVP and the prototype is that the first entails the entire development team’s efforts, while one engineer and designer can work on the latter. An MVP is a product that we introduce into the market to see if it reaches the intended audience. A prototype is a basic version of what your product can be, made primarily to show it to your stakeholders.
Why develop an MVP? Let’s assume you’ve already seen that your idea is viable with PoC and a prototype, and you’ve checked its technical feasibility. Companies often think this is enough to move directly to full-fledged software product development. Yet, this can be a fatal mistake.
First, you need your product to reach the target audience and gather their feedback. In such a case, an MVP should be used to determine whether the market is interested in your application and whether it is worthwhile to invest in its further development.
MVP is like a demo version of your solution, after the success of which, you can proceed to develop the final version of your software.
Benefits of Creating a PoC in Software Development
Many ideas are floating around in the software development world, but sadly, not all of them turn into successful ventures. To avoid such involvement, you need to create a PoC software development strategy. But why is a proof of concept so significant?
There are different categories of software products: typical ones, for example, corporate websites and much more complex solutions. For such unique and complex projects, a proof of concept is a must, as it helps decide on the technologies and time frames.
What other benefits can the PoC give your company? Let’s go into further depth about them.
Calculate Your Budget Rationally
You can determine your budget capabilities and limitations in advance and calculate the approximate cost of software development with a proof of concept. In addition, PoC will save you from unjustified costs if your idea proves unviable.
The purpose of a PoC is to demonstrate the viability and effectiveness of your idea. This solution will help you raise funds for your project because it will prove to investors that your concept has a profitable practical application.
Comply with Market Demands
PoC entails researching, evaluating, and defining your target audience’s requirements. It will assist you in determining whether your software will meet the demands of your potential customers. This way, you can ensure that your product reaches its end-user.
Evaluate the Technical Feasibility
As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of building a PoC is not simply to establish the commercial viability of your product. The proof of concept also plays a significant role in deciding whether your project is technically feasible. As a result, the development team will be able to select the technical development vector for your product.
Have a Clear Action Plan
PoC development allows you to navigate your project better. Knowing what you need to develop your product, what features to add to it, and so on, you can significantly optimize the workflow. Upon the PoC creation, you will receive a demo application with basic functionality and a document that describes how to implement a full-fledged product.
Understand the risks and limitations
Identifying the limitations and risks that your software product may encounter is a part of PoC creation. It will allow you to foresee which development path your solution will take and smooth out any potential flaws in your project.
How to build a PoC
Do you have a product idea? PoC is a great way to test its viability. After that, you can evaluate your future product’s budgets, risks, and complexity.
Let’s find out how you can build a proof of concept.
Two Approaches to Creating PoC
You can approach the development process in different ways, and the same applies to the creation of PoC. In general, we distinguish two main strategies.
First PoC, then UX Design and MVP
The main idea of this approach is to define the achievable functionality of the product before starting to design its UX and develop an MVP. This strategy is also aimed at setting the timelines for product development.
However, we at Halo Lab use a different method we consider more effective.
First UX Design, Then PoC
This approach implies using UX design as the cornerstone. This way, you start with a rough sketch of what your product will look like.
The software engineer who designs a PoC can only tell you whether it is technically possible to implement a particular function. The UX designer involved in the project from the start will define the features you should implement to make your software more user-friendly.
Therefore, the result is a more convenient software solution since you’ve started building it with user experience in mind.
PoC in Design-first Strategy
So, how do you proceed to a PoC if you choose UX design as the starting point? Here are the main steps.
We start with creating wireframes for app screens. Our team generates and tests ideas concerning the UX. As a result, you get sketches that don’t have many details but offer enough information to see future functionality and consider user experience.
Conducting Development Research
This stage begins with the completion of the wireframes by our team. We also study the technological requirements for the product to determine the development costs in advance. The specifications for the PoC are defined and refined.
At this stage, we create a PoC to help us evaluate the feasibility of both the design and the tech part of the product. Usually, the research and PoC creation are done quite quickly — our team copes with these tasks in a few weeks. The proof of concept is ready before the UI is completed. It allows us to avoid designing unnecessary elements.
Preparing to build MVP
As we work on PoC, we prepare to create a minimum viable product. Our team produces the UI for the screens, which should be included in the MVP. Also, we determine the time frame and the development order.
Tools to Use When Creating Your PoC
So, you’ve learned what is PoC in software development and how to create it. Are there any tools to help you with that?
Proof of concept development is in many ways comparable to the standard software development process planning that project managers do. It means you may confidently use PM tools to create your PoC.
Here are the most common tools, also known as task managers; select the one that appeals to you the most:
Proof of concept is more than just creating a test app. Software documentation is also essential in this regard. That’s why you need to decide on the tools to work with it.
You can use the following tools for that:
- Microsoft Office
- Google Suite
Halo Lab Case Study: PoC for an Educational Platform
Halo Lab has helped numerous clients to test their ideas. We have already mentioned the PoC development for the analog of Livescore. There is another project we’d like to tell you about involving PoC for an educational platform. Here is its step-by-step description:
- The client approached us with an idea, a roadmap, and examples of user flow.
- Our project manager has developed a technical task based on the information provided by the client. We used this task as a document that describes the limitations in functionality. This document made it easier to evaluate our work.
- We developed UX prototypes.
- Our developer conducted preliminary research and accessed the project scope. We had to understand what technologies we could use depending on available flow and requirements.
- We created PoC, tested several authentication methods, picked the database, and worked with client-server interaction performance.
- As a result, we agreed on MVP and moved some functionality to future releases. We postponed some features release to launch the first version of the educational platform faster and cheaper for the client.
How has PoC helped us in this case? At first, we wanted to use Firebase as a platform for the backend. After creating PoC, we decided to abandon this idea, as some difficulties with the basic tasks like data pagination or mass data updates became apparent. As a result, we chose to use NodeJS as a backend language and AWS as an infrastructure where the application will live.
Main Takeaways for Creating a Proof of Concept in Software Development
PoC in software development is a way to test the idea of your product before its actual realization. This method is the first and most significant step in building any successful software solution. Proof of concept allows you to determine the feasibility of your idea, set a budget and timeframes for development, and reach your target audience.
Our team knows how to develop a decent proof of concept. For example, we have recently created a PoC for an online store with multiple integrations, such as the big commerce admin panel and user integration with Zoho CRM.
However, the highest result of our efforts is the flawless and successful product launch. How do we do that? We realized that it is challenging to plan software development without thorough research and documentation. That is why we pay great attention to the initial stages of product development. Among these phases, in particular, is PoC.
If you also want to experience the benefits of creating a PoC, you can count on us. Halo Lab has extensive expertise in developing projects from the ground up and can assist you with validating your concept.