How To Create A Successful Proof Of Concept For Innovation11 min read
For some companies, brainstorming ideas isn’t necessarily an exhausting task. It can be a fun and exciting venture, particularly if everyone is determined to achieve progress.
But even then, coming up with viable concepts and developing them requires a comprehensive process that needs careful research, pacing, and organization.
Managers and other business leaders have to build an extensive project quality management plan that includes a list of possible problems that the enterprise may encounter from start to end, as well as a range of countermeasures that the team can apply whenever necessary.
This way, the critical aspects of every stage are seen, and project failures are less likely to occur.
Furthermore, should employees want the company’s clients and investors to be on board with the project, designated teams must substantially demonstrate the practicality, usefulness, feasibility, and projected outcomes of the concept presented.
However, how can they do this effectively?
In this article, you will learn more about the essence of POC, otherwise known as the proof of concept. You will also understand how this can help businesses convert ideas into real-life solutions.
What is proof of concept?
A proof of concept describes an idea in its entirety. It narrates the potential viability of a suggestion, including its proposed functionality, practicality, features, and general design.
It is a presentation that project teams need to make before creating the final version of a product and launching it for public use and commercialization. In a way, it’s a small-scale prerequisite that verifies the concept’s applicability in the business.
With the POC, project leaders can reassure the higher-ups that these proposed programs, solutions, features, methods, and products are achievable.
In essence, the proof of concept helps decision-makers examine the idea closely, along with all the disadvantages and benefits that these proposed solutions may come with.
Hence, the POCs must support the strategic goals and objectives of the business.
POCs may differ across industries. For instance, companies that specialize in software development must have a proof of concept that proves the feasibility of their idea from a technological perspective.
This may come in the form of software that examines whether specific features can accomplish their given tasks seamlessly, or if two distinct systems can work together without causing mishaps and other kinds of erroneous results.
On the other hand, the POCs of startups may want to focus on the financial viability of proposed concepts — on whether or not these ideas can create the necessary income to meet and fulfill both operating costs and debt commitments without compromising quality.
What is the value of proof of concept?
Entrepreneurs can use the proof of concept in determining potential challenges that may technically and logistically impede the success of a project.
It helps businesses obtain essential internal feedback while keeping risks and exposure to a minimum. In addition, POCs enable stakeholders to evaluate design choices in the early stages of the development cycle.
Hence, a proof of concept is vital in persuading managers, investors, and stakeholders that the suggestions of a specific team would be worth all the effort, time, and resources to pursue.
Moreover, as a business owner, you cannot afford to take uncalculated risks. You need concrete and reliable proof that could predict, analyze, and demonstrate the capability and doability of the ideas proposed to you.
What is included in a proof of concept?
Generally, a proof of concept includes:
This section includes everything that distinctly makes the product whole.
In POCs, product features are necessary for identifying whether the product will work seamlessly upon public use.
Issues that may be encountered upon product development
Knowing what might hinder the success of the project helps businesses create both preventive and contingency measures.
As mentioned above, a POC measures the financial viability of an idea.
Furthermore, it enables decision-makers to express their thoughts and suggestions in relation to the product’s overall development cycle.
A proof of concept is essential in businesses because it:
Helps in obtaining investors
Getting the funding and the resources you need to bring your ideas to life involves convincing investors that what you have in mind is worth spending for.
This is what POCs do — they demonstrate the profitability and functionality of your idea with related visuals and data that can help you illustrate the benefits of your proposal to the brand’s overall state.
As a result, concrete information is utilized to convince the company’s stakeholders regarding the feasibility of the idea, and realistic assessments are given in analyzing potential returns for investments in related initiatives.
Discovers needed capacity for production
To a certain degree, most proposed ideas are expected to be scaled over time.
This is why POCs do not only focus on viability, but also on the growth and mass production of the product in relation to a lot of factors like resources, structure, workflow standardization, and many others.
Hence, with a proof of concept, businesses can identify their numbers in relation to production and match them with their essential counterparts — particularly when the requirements of a product increase and multiply during its life cycle.
Meaning, if the proposed product starts with 6 important materials, it may end up needing 15 upon scaling. Because of this, teams may need to find a way not to go beyond indicated budgets, particularly if product changes are seen along the way.
Singles out possible risks and hindrances in the idea’s implementation phase
Creating a POC helps managers and other team leaders identify related risks and obstacles before the company’s official product launch as it provides a clear picture of the problems that may arise in the company’s development and marketing stage.
For instance, a POC may indicate that a product has unaddressed pain points that make them unfit for its actual target audience. This kind of issue is determined when surveys are handed out to customers for feedback.
In effect, the idea gets enhanced based on the customers’ needs. The size of the concept’s new customer base may also alter its budget coverage and other related attributes to perfectly match their preferences, thereby increasing the project’s success.
How to Make a Proof of Concept
Below are the steps that you can utilize in making a proof of concept:
Look for similar projects implemented before and familiarize yourself with how they dealt with all the issues they had come across during the execution phase, and how they managed to finish the project successfully.
Note that your references are not limited to existing guides though.
You can also refer to your customers for an in-depth study of their needs and preferences to identify what materials and features will match them.
You can also browse through scholarly articles, tutorials, and other key references for the development of the product.
In addition, you can consult some experts in your field and collaborate with them as they have the skills and the knowledge that you need to execute your idea properly.
Step 2: Determine the Specifics
Now that you’re done with your research, it’s time to proceed to the next step:
Identify who needs your products and why. Create user personas and collaborate with the rest of your team to identify their pain points, and how you can improve your idea to serve your customers better.
Conduct interviews with your potential users. You can ask them about certain details to help you create your product better, like their expectations and negative experiences from related products.
Your team can also make online surveys so your interviewees can take the time to answer your queries. Allow them to share their frustrations and inconveniences. Get to know them better and see what ticks them and what doesn’t.
Step 3: Check the Feasibility of Your Idea
Creating a proof of concept involves determining the feasibility of your proposal.
To find out the level of difficulty in executing your idea, try answering the following questions together with your team:
How long will it take to implement the idea?
Do you need to outsource any tool or technology to execute the concept? If so, what are these?
How much will it cost you to develop the product?
If it’s too costly, would it be possible to use alternatives without compromising the quality of the product?
Is your idea scalable?
Can it generate the required profit?
What are the risks of implementing it? If there are too many, what can you do to reduce it?
You can also check some proof of concept templates online, or make your own and share your collected answers to authorized executives, stakeholders, and investors. Ask for their feedback and apply their suggestions if possible.
Use idea management software in creating your proof of concept to help in facilitating the collection, selection, and organization of ideas. This way, suggestions are collated and classified for easier navigation and better results.