Proof of Concept: An Essential Step of Product Development 

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Hridita Islam
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Let’s assume you are a skincare products manufacturing company. You want to devise a new variant of face wash in the market. Now how to decide which variant would bring the highest positive responses from the customers? 

To assess the new variant’s viability, you can survey several target customers or provide samples to estimate whether they deem the new product effective and worth buying. 

You need solid evidence that the product is going to be successful. Only then can you take your product idea forward. 

This is an example of Proof of Concept (POC).

Whether an FMCG product or a SaaS (Software as a service) product, It’s not wise to make significant business decisions based on assumptions. 

Moreover, you might likely be biased toward the idea your team has generated. It often leads to midway failure in obtaining the expected value. 

It’s an essential step of product development to gauge the feasibility and profitability of the product in question. 

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about creating a proof of concept, so you don’t miss a single step in ensuring your product’s success.

Let’s begin.

What Is Proof of Concept (POC)?

Proof of Concept refers to the evidence of feasibility, usability, acceptance from the customers, and compatibility with the client’s system of a proposed product. Before you launch a product in the market or sell it to a customer, that product should answer the following questions:

  • Are the customers in need of this product or service?
  • Is the product capable of delivering the promised impacts?
  • Will the product fit in technically with the customers’ system?

The last question is very crucial for software development companies because your software is of no use without successful integration with the client’s system.

All the internal and external stakeholders - from investors to product managers, need positive answers to the above questions to work with that product on a larger scale. 

POC is an early-stage small-scale presentation to answer those questions in front of customers, investors, or other decision-makers. It also helps the developers avert any risk they might encounter after implementing the product. 

Why Create a POC?

POCs help both internal and external stakeholders to make informed and prudent decisions. 

Shows Investors and Customers The Product’s Potential

POC provides decision-makers, i.e., investors or customers, an idea about the potential of the proposed concept and how it will look in the long-term application. 

Companies can demonstrate through POC that implementing the suggested solution, program, product, feature, or process is feasible if the POC is convincing, the chance of getting investments increases. 

The POC marketing approach is one proven method to attract investors and potential customers successfully. 

Minimize Risk and Cut Costs

If you are a business owner, using Proof of Concept can help you minimize risk and cut back on costs. 

When you prepare POC for presentation to the external stakeholders, you also closely scrutinize your idea’s loopholes and unforeseen challenges. 

Every idea comes with some limitations and even dead-ends which are pretty tricky to discover until a period of operation. 

Benefits of Using Proof of Concept

POC may look like a requirement for new product launching on the surface, but it strengthens your company’s goals and visions in multiple ways. The most important ones are.

Attracting Investors

Investors seek viable and profitable ideas in the long run. POCs are better than regular pitch decks at convincing investors because they provide evidence of functionality rather than describing how good the features will be. 

POC Marketing

Gathering feedback from the trial run and incorporating the insights in further product development is a great way to onboard your potential customers. It also stimulates positive brand awareness.

Averting Loopholes and Risk

Every idea, no matter how good it is, comes with some unpredicted challenges when put into action. 

It impedes the overall growth of the company. 

Preparing a thorough POC beforehand helps you be well-equipped for upcoming challenges and avoid the ones you can prevent before launching the product.

Increasing Return on Investment 

POC is a vital step for estimating ROI, especially for AI-based companies. 

R&D can be exempted from a lot of extra work at every stage of product development and implementation, which means the operational cost is decreased.

Proof of Concept vs. Prototype

Let’s look at the example of launching a new face wash variant under a skincare brand. 

Here the positive feedback from the customers is a form of POC that supports the idea of launching a specific product. 

If you produce some mini-packs of that facewash and supply them for free to test whether it serves the purpose of the customers, those mini-packs can be referred to as prototypes.

POC and prototype are essential steps of product development that assess the functionality and profitability of the end product but follow different approaches.

Proof of Concept vs. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an upgraded version of your prototype. An MVP gives you a glimpse of the main product having almost all the core features, whereas a prototype doesn’t fully represent the main product; it just gives you an idea about how it works.

So, POC and MVP are two completely different stages of product development. If a product doesn’t pass the POC stage, it’s a waste to create the Minimum Viable Product from that concept. 

9 Steps to Write a Proof of Concept

Proof of concept for different kinds of products differs from each other. For instance, POC for a SaaS product requires a trial run for the company’s assessment and the client’s system to check compatibility. 

However, there are some common steps that almost every POC must accommodate. Let’s quickly look at the steps of writing an efficacious Proof of Concept. 

1. Demonstrate The Need For The Product

Every product is proposed and developed based on a specific need in the market. Almost every product enters the market to solve a particular problem for a specific target group. 

The need cannot be formulated on the assumption. 

Project leaders can support their assumption by surveying a subset of customers. They should be asked in-depth questions like customers’ struggles, their needs and wants, and even how much money they are willing to spend for a product like that. 

POC must contain background information on why the proposed product idea has been chosen.

2. Design The Right Solution

Your product team has to brainstorm and develop an idea that precisely addresses the struggles of the sample customers. 

Make sure you don’t discard any idea doubting its feasibility. Because sometimes, seemingly, you can turn complex half-baked ideas into reality with the help of an efficient product development team, especially software developers. 

3. Define Your Success Criteria

When you are conducting a test run, you need to be very specific about what the success criteria are going to be. Your POC can be deemed wrong if the success criteria don’t match your audience’s expected ones. 

Let’s say you are demonstrating an AI-based software for giving voice-over. It would help if you precisely mentioned the tone, formality, and language your software will use. Otherwise, the result may fail to obtain audience satisfaction.

4. Estimate Duration & Effort

A vital thing to remember is that POC will extend your sales cycle. Because POC calls for a free trial period when you will have to make your service available to the audience without generating revenue, to keep your product development budget in check, estimate the effort required for the trial run and keep it as precise as possible. 

Most POCs are between one month to three months, so we can assume your sales cycle just extended for three months. 

So here’s a tip: when you do a proof of concept, keep the duration as short as possible, only long enough to get a glimpse of the most effective features of your product.
5. Define The Scope Of Your POC

What will be carried out and evaluated in the POC trial run depends on the scope of your POC. Setting clear parameters for your proof of concept is essential for accurate outcomes. 

Even if the POC is approved as practicable, the proof of concept becomes meaningless if the scope is incorrect due to inadequate project evaluation. 

6. Pick Your Resources

Conducting a POC presentation is as important as serving the main product to the customers afterward. So you should pick the right person for the job who is savvy and well-equipped for the task they will perform. 

7. Create a Prototype and Test It

After reaching a consensus about the idea’s feasibility and setting up the success criteria, create a prototype and test the specific features to see if the product yields the anticipated outcome. A successful prototype solidifies your POC.

8. Gather and Document Feedback

After a successful trial run, collect feedback from your sample customers. Everything is crucial here. 

For example, if the sample group likes your UI design or if the website is easy to navigate. 

The feedback will pinpoint the shortcomings and guide you to future product modification. 

9. Present POC For Approval

The project team can now prepare to present to the stakeholders after testing the concept and adjusting based on the input. 

The team can start implementing the proposal after successfully pitching it to the stakeholders and winning their support and funding.

Instead of focusing on the features of your product, emphasize the perks it offers.

3 Proof of Concept Examples

Writing POC might seem like a lot of work for a new business. If you are still wondering how to get started, don’t worry! We have compiled three top-notch examples of POCs that will give your product team a good head start.

1. Intel

With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, we have seen a rapid rise of AI-based products in the market. If you are also on your way to entering the market with a product incorporating automation and artificial intelligence, check out this Proof of Concept template from Intel.

2. Power Slides

Companies working on commercial mobile applications and software development will find this template handy- Power Slides. When getting ready for a meeting with a client to talk about application settings, project lead times, and metrics to monitor project progress, you can utilize this template. 

3. ARIES

A concise model applied to different industries is the proof-of-concept proposal chart from ARIES. Six criteria are listed in the template, each annotated with questions and additional details that help clarify what is expected.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a proof of concept?
  1. Demonstrate The Need For The Product
  2. Ideate The Right Solution
  3. Define Your Success Criteria
  4. Estimate Duration & Effort
  5. Define The Scope Of Your POC
  6. Pick Your Resources
  7. Create A Prototype And Test It
  8. Gather And Document Feedback
  9. Present POC For Approval
What is proof of concept in software development with examples?

Proof of Concept in Software Development offers a free demo to assess its usability and compatibility with the customer’s system.

How do you make a POC presentation?

To present your POC, you gather the evidence of the feasibility of your product, create a prototype, offer free trials and show it to the investors or other stakeholders. 

What is the purpose of POC?

Your POC’s purpose is to check your product idea’s feasibility, practicability, and functionality. You can develop and commercialize your product after it passes the POC stage.

Final Thoughts on Proof of Concept Examples

POC is an excellent approach for businesses, especially in the tech market, to check beforehand if the idea is functional and worth spending your funding on. 

On top of that, a concrete POC can help you attract investors and cut down on your cost by discovering the loopholes at the early stage of product development.

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