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The Proof Of Concept

Forming an idea for a new piece of software is energizing. Brainstorming possibilities and envisioning potential inspires team members to create something new that solves a problem. Ideation is exciting, but without putting your idea through its paces, you may not end up with the product you expect.

Is the idea practical? Is it feasible? Will the users actually want to use it? What resources will be required to build it? These and other questions can all be answered with a proof of concept.


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Defining A POC

Proof of concept (PoC) is creating evidence and documentation about the feasibility of an idea. It outlines how the idealized product or service would become market-ready, how it would function, if it’s needed, and who is the target demographic. 

When it comes to software development, it applies to a specific process. For software-specific ideas, a PoC is an act of determining if the software can be built in the real world, what technologies should be used in development, and whether the software is likely to be adopted by its intended users.


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Importance Of POC

In creating a proof of concept, you are essentially laying out on paper why your idea would be successful in the market. Think of it as a business plan for a software idea. Though the inclination to skip making a POC can be tempting, it’s important to fully flush out your idea for a few reasons. 


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POC: The Reasons For Implementing The Step

  • Validity- Before you skip to development, it’s crucial to know if your idea is feasible.
  • Focus Group Testing- Taking a proof of concept and testing it with your potential user base will help you get early feedback on what people actually want.
  • Money generation- Creating an early roadmap that predicts market value, possible sticky points, and how to monetize your software idea will make a strong statement in creating investor confidence in your product.


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The Need Of POC

Although nearly everyone who comes up with an idea is convinced it will work, creating a proof of concept to test your idea will ensure you arrive at the best version of it and will save you time and money in the process. Laying out every detail about your idea will help highlight gaps in your product plan that you might not realize exist.

Whether you’re adding new features onto an existing software or whether you’re building something new completely from scratch, a proof of concept will ensure that you take the fastest, most direct route to success.


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Difference Between Proof of Concept and Prototype

Proof of concept always comes first. Think of this like a word document, where you have written down a fully formulated idea.

A prototype is the first, very basic iteration of your software idea. It takes the words from the proof of concept and brings them to life in a tangible product.


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Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

Creating a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is the next step that comes after you have a prototype. This is the simplest, most stripped-back version of your software idea, yet it still retains enough features to be released to the general public for actual use.

Minimal Viable Products are a common topic in software development with a lot of content surrounding them, so you may want to learn more about the pros and cons of creating an MVP.


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How to Write a Proof of Concept

There is not a cut-and-dry method for writing a proof of concept. The rules aren’t strict like they are for other written documents, like research papers, which must all follow the same outline of intro, methods, and conclusion. 

Instead, it’s important to make sure specific key topics are covered, however that may be. A proof of concept is a living document that can be updated as you have new thoughts and get fresh feedback from people who read it


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Step 1: Prove the Need

It only makes sense to put time and money into building a product if people need it. Maybe those people are the company’s employees, who need to improve their productivity. Maybe they’re a new market the company isn’t currently serving but could easily reach. Whoever they are, you need to know that your software will meet their needs.


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Step 2: Map Pain Points to Solutions and Get Feedback

This step involves brainstorming ways to solve each of the pain points you identified in the first step. There will likely be several ways to solve each issue. After your brainstorm, you’ll evaluate each possible solution to determine how it stacks up in reference to cost, competition, timeline, technology challenges, etc. When this process is completed, you should have a clearer idea of which solutions to include in the final product.


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Step 3: Prototype Your Solution and Test

Your next step is to create a prototype that wraps your solutions into a rudimentary product that you can use to test with those you interviewed previously. This prototype should have the expected feature set and UI/UX.

Once the prototype is built, test it with your interviewees for additional feedback. Record their use of the product to track how intuitive the interface is, and find out if you overlooked any important functionality.


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Step 4: Create a Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is different from a prototype in that it’s a fully-functional solution that you can put out into the world for use. While it will include only the most-important features that are essential for solving the primary pain points you identified, it should function on the user’s side just like the final product.


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Step 5: Design a Roadmap

From all of the information you’ve gathered in each of the previous steps, create a roadmap that describes what you’ve learned and outlines a recommended step-by-step process for building the product. Think of this roadmap as a set of blueprints for constructing a building. With this roadmap as a guide, everyone will be kept on the same page through product development and will have a clear picture of what the end goal is.


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Key Takeaways

The more information you know about what your users actually want, the sooner you can focus on those features, cut unnecessary ones, and save yourself iteration time and expenses along the way. You can continue to fundraise at each point, using these supporting documents to show investors the product’s progress. 

Many startups fail because they skip over a proof of concept, convinced their idea is a unicorn, and rush to go straight to market. Taking some thoughtful time on a PoC is a great first step to getting you on the way to a rewarding market launch. 


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