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The Importance of a Proof-of-Concept for Software Development

Innovation comes down to thinking up an idea for something that doesn't exist yet. But before you can pour tons of money into building it, you should probably try to verify that it's even possible to build.

That's where a proof-of-concept (PoC) comes in. Usually, a PoC isn't intended to be a working product. Instead, it is intended to be more of a toy model for a future working product.

Building a PoC provides several benefits, including:
  • Proving that your idea is feasible.
  • Aligning goals with all stakeholders by creating a tangible example of your idea.
  • Clarifying your vision by providing a model for the finished product.
  • Selling your idea to investors who want to see that their money is going to be spent wisely. This is critical since 47% of startups in 2022 alone failed due to lack of financing.

What is a Proof-of-Concept?

The real purpose of the proof-of-concept is in the name: a PoC is supposed to prove that your concept can work.

In the tech world, this primarily means proving that the technical aspect of your idea is feasible. Perhaps your new app has a novel AI component or makes use of an experimental augmented reality idea. You should make a small demo to convince yourself and investors that such a thing can actually be built.

Tech projects vary widely in how difficult they are to build. Many great new app ideas don't involve anything that is technologically novel- they might just rearrange existing tools into a form more useful for a particular niche, for example. In this case, only a very minimal PoC may be needed.

Proof-of-Concept vs. Minimum Viable Product

The proof-of-concept and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are similar ideas. They are both "demo" versions of your planned future product, used to test whether or not the idea will succeed. Indeed, there is often overlap between the two ideas.

The main difference has to do with what they test. A PoC is built to test technical feasibility, usually to attract investors. An MVP is usually built later to test consumer response, so you can justify building a full version.

Exactly how different these two are depends on the product you are building and the market to which it will be sold.

Technically novel or complicated ideas need more proof that they can actually be built. They will have a greater need for a strong PoC.

Technologically simpler ideas may need to focus more on proving their market value. For products that can be built, and require no novel technology, investors may not even care about seeing a technical PoC. They may be more interested in seeing extensive market research. In that case, a good MVP will do the job of proving the idea.
MVP - Prototype - POC
MVP - Prototype - POC

Steps for Building a Proof-of-Concept

Every proof-of-concept is different because every software concept is different. In general, though, most development teams will go through the following four steps:
  • Defining the problem
  • Ideating the solution
  • Developing
  • Testing
If you want to sell something, there needs to be a problem that your product will solve. Define the problem precisely to define exactly what you are trying to build.

Once you know the problem, ideate the solution that you will provide. This will include ideas about the actual technique of solving the problem- and it is that technique that you want to test. Think about the specific technologies you will use, including programming languages and software packages.

With a good idea of the solution, you can move on to development. This is where you will get a good sense of whether or not your idea is feasible. You want to look out for significant obstacles and come up with good ways of solving them.

Finally, any technical product needs testing. The point is to test that your technical solution is actually correct. With this in mind, you should use your original definition of the problem to come up with useful software tests.

Building PoCs with JetRockets

Many of our clients are startups, and we work with them at every stage of the development process. This often entails creating a proof-of-concept for the founder's idea.

One project of our own that grew out of a PoC was OneTribe, a leave management platform. Because we have employees and contractors working around the globe, handling time off is a challenge.

Leave management is a problem that has become more complicated since the rise in remote work a few years ago. Novel solutions are needed to address these complications, and OneTribe was built to test some of the creative ideas we had.

Fortunately, our ideas turned out to be technically feasible, so we were able to turn a working proof-of-concept into a bigger project.

Do you have an innovative software idea you want to prototype? We'd love to chat about it!

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