Your proof of concept, prototype, and minimum viable product all matter in innovation.

However, how do these terms differ from one another? Moreover, could one of them be more useful than the rest?

In this article, let’s find out what these terms mean and what their purposes are in the process of innovation. Furthermore, let’s find out which among them is the most useful in making your innovation a success.

Let’s start.

What is a proof of concept (POC)?

A proof of concept provides a comprehensive overview of an idea, which involves depicting its prospective feasibility, success, viability, and impact in accordance with its suggested usability, properties, capabilities, and overall structure.

It entails the evaluation of a specific premise in an attempt to validate that the concept is realistic, viable, and relevant in practice.

In other words, it demonstrates whether the project is capable of addressing and resolving a pre-defined business dilemma.

Why is POC important?

The POC is an overview that innovation groups must provide before generating the ultimate iteration of a product and making it available for general access and purchase — thereby demonstrating the concept’s commercial viability.

With the proof of concept, project leaders may ensure upper management that the suggested initiatives, approaches, capabilities, methodologies, and outputs are attainable.

It empowers decision-makers in systematically reviewing proposals, along with all the pros and cons that these products may come with. As a result, the POCs must complement the company’s goals and objectives.

What is a prototype?

A prototype is a pre-production sample, simulation, or copy of a product designed to evaluate and examine an idea or method.

It’s generally to increase the accuracy and polish the quality of the product. Hence, it is the stage that occurs between the standardization and appraisal of the concept.

Why is a prototype necessary?

A prototype’s purpose is to explore and verify proposals prior to discussing them with stakeholders and ultimately handing the final versions to development teams for realization.

Throughout the testing process, prototypes are essential in discovering and alleviating potential pitfalls. This is how businesses get to observe, visualize, and optimize one’s user experience upon the application of the product or service.

By presenting an initial form of the product, they can obtain feedback as soon as possible and perform enhancements before creating its final version.

What is a minimum viable product or MVP?

A minimum viable product, otherwise known as MVP, refers to a new product that is brought to the market with minimal features and functionalities that are sufficient to pique the interest of consumers.

Only after receiving adequate input from the product’s early consumers is the completed product offered to the market.

Why is MVP significant to innovation?

It is the most basic form of the product that the firm intends to offer.

Companies make MVPs with the intent to evaluate the response of prospective consumers or purchasers by offering the simplest version to them.

Creating minimum viable products helps businesses in significantly improving the initial product for top-notch quality in the final output as it determines what the product lacks or what its strengths and weaknesses are.

A company may decide to create and distribute a minimal viable product for the following reasons:

  • To test the product with real users before devoting a substantial budget to the entire development of a product
  • To avoid total product failure
  • To discover what works and what doesn’t via user experiences from the target audience
  • To distribute a product to the market the moment it becomes feasible

What are the differences between these terms?

As their definitions and purposes seem to be the same, they may appear confusing at first. However, if you study them closely, you will see a few differences.

Proof of concept vs. Prototype

While the words proof of concept and prototype are sometimes utilized simultaneously, they are distinct procedures with distinct outcomes and functions.

It may seem similar, but there are differences, and each serves a different purpose.

1. A proof of concept is used to assess if an idea can actually be executed, whereas a prototype is used to create a scaled-down version of the ultimate product that can be analyzed and reviewed for applicability, performance, and configuration.

A prototype is not anticipated to have all of the elements, capabilities, and functionalities of a finished product.

It may also not have every aspect of the layout of the end product. It provides a rough model of the ultimate product to stakeholders like the business’s project directors, executives, managers, and even possible investors.

2. POC exists primarily to demonstrate that a product concept is both practical and developable.

On the other hand, prototypes are created to assist in visualizing how a product will work in the real world. It demonstrates the design, navigation, and layout, among other things.

As a result, a proof of concept demonstrates that a product idea can be realized, and a prototype demonstrates how it is realized.

3. A POC frequently does not emphasize the product’s usage. Its sole purpose is to demonstrate that such a product is feasible. Any additional consumer-facing qualities are not considered since doing so takes time.

Prototypes, however, take everything into account. They should be useful in the actual world. The innovation team examines and tackles any issues that arise during the development process. Prototypes, unlike POCs, may not be as aesthetically created or as long-lasting.

Prototype vs. Minimum Viable Product

1. A prototype is used to put the concept to the test, while an MVP puts the product through trials.

After you create a prototype, the next stage is to define the minimal viable product (MVP). This is the most basic, stripped-down form of your concept, yet it still has enough functionality to be published to the broader audience for practical usage.

2. A prototype validates the core idea while an MVP examines functionalities while assuming that the basic concept is already proved.

A prototype is a quick approach to test the fundamental concepts and assumptions underlying the product.

An MVP, on the other hand, is a working version of the product that has only the primary capabilities which makes it excellent for testing and gaining customer input and insightful data, but with the least amount of effort and money spent.

3. A prototype can serve as the basis for the structure of the MVP.

Sometimes, to make things easier, you can try assessing initial assumptions using the prototype and build an MVP to make your work even better.

Proof of concept vs. Minimum Viable Product

Meanwhile, here’s how a proof of concept differs from a minimum viable product:

1. A prototype also allows designers to evaluate how to effectively create and enhance the product when it enters into mass development for a finalized version.

Likewise, after establishing a solid POC, the minimum viable product is created. The MVP is a more completely developed version of the planned final product than a prototype.

The MVP may be used to test the marketability and usability of the product with prospective users or consumers.

2. The proof of concept is a type of internal project that lets you validate if your initial plans can be successfully applied in the real world.

The minimum viable product, on the other hand, teaches you how to implement your innovation concept in the most sustainable and labor-intensive method possible.

You will study how people react to different versions of your product and its possible features by doing market research.

3. With testing your POC, you can identify two crucial things. One, whether consumers need your product, and two, whether you have the resources to develop it.

Testing your MVP is different. It allows you to establish exactly what your consumers desire, add all the elements required to make it competitive and profitable.

When do you need them for innovation?

Making your proof of concept is the first preliminary step in product development and service design since it determines whether you’re tackling the proper problem.

Establish your proof of concept by using short feedback loops to keep you nimble and swiftly reduce the disparities among your assumptions and the results of your experiments. Theories and concepts that are found to be viable at this level may go to the prototype stage.

Once you’ve validated your initial idea or project with your proof of concept and your prototype has illustrated how your product or service may appear in practice, the process of identifying MVP will let you verify the feasibility of your product.

You’ll learn a lot about efficiency, consumer expectations, elements, and features that will appeal to your audience. It’s an iterative approach that has the ability to reduce expenses while also boosting your product to market with a higher possibility of success.

Use each at the right time

All three of them matter in innovation. If you have an idea, especially an unusual one, a proof of concept can assist you to determine whether it is technically feasible.

Without proof of concept, developing a product is similar to taking a rough estimate and hoping to win.

Prototyping is more about having not just a vision but also the capacity to feel and understand your product better, which you can later employ in the final stage of product development.

Explore our innovation ebook to learn more about how to establish innovation in the workplace. It’s a fascinating read that covers the fundamentals and secrets of forming an innovative company. Check it out to discover more.