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POC in Software Development - When Not to Skip This Stage

Last updated on
May 16, 2024


What is a Proof of Concept in software development

A Proof of Concept (PoC) is a small-scale, preliminary project that is developed to test the feasibility and potential of an idea or concept. 

Why Proof of Concept is important in software

The purpose of a PoC is to validate the technical feasibility of an idea or concept and to identify any potential issues or challenges that may arise during the development process. It can also serve as a way to gain feedback from stakeholders and to showcase the potential of a software application to potential investors or customers.


POC in Software Development - When Not to Skip This Stage


How to select a concept that will be the right choice not only in terms of the idea itself but also development, feasibility, and business needs?

This is where Proof of Concept (POC) comes into play. It allows you to validate the concept before diving into the development process. And that’s crucial, especially for a new software development project.

Proof of Concept in software development

According to the latest data:

  • 90% of startups fail, and 10% of them do it within the first year.
  • The main reason for that is misreading market demand which applies to 42% of failure cases. The second largest reason (29%) is running out of funding.

And this happens for a reason. Neglecting concept validation before starting significant investments results in unmet market needs, exceeded development costs, and no interest from stakeholders or investors. Fortunately, there is a solution that can protect companies against such failures - building a software POC.

What is Proof of Concept?

What is POC in software? Proof of Concept is a critical step in the software development process that involves creating a small-scale version of a product or service to validate its feasibility and functionality. 

Role of a Proof of Concept in software development

It helps businesses to determine whether their idea or concept is worth pursuing before investing time and resources into the full-scale development process.

As it’s pretty rare that an initial idea perfectly meets the market demand, POC provides companies with valuable insights on how to direct further product development, identify potential flaws, and make necessary adjustments early on in the development cycle. 

Why to build a Proof of Concept

As the final result of Proof of Concept, software is technically feasible and designed to efficiently solve the problems of end-users. Overall, a good POC increases the chances for success and protects the startup from failure in the first years.

POC vs MVP vs prototype - the differences

POC is often confused with MVP and prototypes, which are other methods for validating the accuracy and potential of business ideas. What are the two other terms and what are the differences between them?

  • A POC is a small-scale model of the product, created to test the feasibility of a concept. It helps to validate the idea, and market needs, as well as check whether the selected technology is the right choice for this kind of project. Sometimes POC can be presented in the form of a document or demo and coding isn’t necessarily required.
  • A prototype can be described as a rough draft of the product created to demonstrate mainly the design, and basic functionalities of the initial idea. It already presents specific features of the project, however, it is still used mainly for testing and experimentation. Unlike MVP, a prototype may not necessarily perform functioning features.
  • An MVP is already a functional version of the product that includes and performs the core features (and only core features) necessary to satisfy early customers and gather feedback. In this case, coding is a must as the goal of MVP is creating a workable product. The MVP is designed to test and validate the assumptions made during the product's ideation stage.

When building a Proof of Concept isn’t a good idea?

While a Proof of Concept in software development is a valuable tool, there are a few situations when building a POC may not be the best idea. Check out if it’s not your case.

Don’t build a POC when:

  • Your idea is not viable or doesn’t align with the business goals. Even the most creative concept can’t be transformed into a functional business without market and financial justification.
  • Your project is already well-defined and there is no need to validate a concept. However, this situation should not be confused with clear assumptions and concept validation should always go beyond internal potential assessment.
  • When resources such as time, budget, and personnel are limited. In this case, it may not be feasible to allocate them toward building a POC but rather start with a prototype to validate the initial concept and check whether there is a potential for cumulating more budget.
  • When your project is small and minor. In this case, building a POC may be unnecessary as the project can be completed quickly, on budget, and at minimum risk without the need for a POC.

Benefits of building a Proof of Concept

Now, when you know none of the above cases is yours, let’s explore the benefits of building a PoC.

POC is a valuable tool for companies striving to provide innovative ideas for new products and improve their processes. The software POC helps to:

  • validate the product idea and concepts before investing a significant amount of time and resources in full-scale development
  • test hypotheses, evaluate the feasibility of ideas, understand the limitations, and identify challenges and opportunities in a low-risk, cost-effective manner
  • verify whether the product meets the market demand and to what extent
  • eliminate drawbacks and issues early on in the development process and address them before investing significant resources into a full-scale project
  • shorten time to market by focusing on the right idea and only core functionalities and features of the developed product
  • choose the best idea among the developed concepts that will deliver the best possible better business results and allow for aligning the most optimal tech and business strategies
  • collect early feedback from stakeholders and customers and make necessary adjustments to their product concept before proceeding to the full development process.

To sum up, Proof of Concept in software development increases the chances to create a product that will be a great market fit, and doing it cost-efficiently, in a way that will attract the audience, users, and investors. Even if the software POC concept will turn out infeasible, it’s still good news, as it will protect the company and investors from the significant loss of resources.

How to build POC?

Building a good software POC is a complex process that involves a few critical stages:

  1. Defining the problem. First, the company has to clearly define the problem they are trying to solve and the opportunities sought. This requires a deep understanding of the market, the target audience, and an analysis of already existing solutions.
  2. Determining the scope of POC. The company must next determine the scope of the POC, including what features and functionalities will be included and how they will be tested. 
  3. Defining success criteria. At this stage, it is crucial to decide what criteria will be used to determine whether the POC is successful or not.
  4. Building POC. Once the scope is defined, the company can proceed to build the POC. It is recommended to use agile methodologies, which allow for iterative development and rapid prototyping. 
  5. Testing. The next critical step is testing the idea to make sure it’s technically feasible and that the selected technology is the right fit for the project.
  6. Gathering feedback. Throughout the process, it's important to involve stakeholders and gather feedback from the early audience to ensure the POC is aligned with their expectations and goals.
  7. Document the outcomes. Last but not least, it’s important to document the process, outcomes, and learnings to be able to present and sum up the results in order to decide on the direction of further development.

If you want to outsource the development of your app's Proof of Concept, this non-sponsored ranking of the top software development outsourcing companies may help you in choosing the best service provider.

Proof of Concept examples

In fact, almost every innovative and successfully launched solution was preceded by a Proof of Concept, including Tesla Autopilot, Siri, Dropbox, Apple Watch, Snapchat, and more. Let’s take a closer look at two examples.

Google Glass

Back in 2013, Google created a proof of concept for their product called Google Glass. The product was displaying information through a wearable device that was navigated hands-free, via natural voice commands. Although the technology was innovative, the project turned out to be a complete failure, mainly due to poor marketing and a bad correlation between price, safety, and market needs.

Amazon Go

Amazon Go is a mobile e-commerce application that utilizes advanced technologies such as machine learning, sensor technology, machine vision, and artificial intelligence (AI) comparable to that used in self-driving cars. The application enables shoppers to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores without the need to wait in lines or check out at registers, as the system of cameras and sensors tracks their movements and automatically charges them for the items they take. Before launching the first store, Amazon built a proof of concept to test the technology and refine the customer experience.

Decisive about building a Proof of Concept?

Building a good proof of concept is a must if you're planning to invest in product development. It helps you validate the idea, make sure you've made the right assumptions, and protects you against costly product failure.

If you want to know how to build a good POC, contact us for more advice on the topic.

Tell us more about your project and we will be able to provide you with tips on how to select technologies for building an effective POC and how to navigate product marketing in order to build solid traction.

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Olga Gierszal
IT Outsourcing Market Analyst & Software Engineering Editor

Software development enthusiast with 6 years of professional experience in the tech industry. Experienced in outsourcing and nearshoring market analysis. Our expert in presenting tech, business, and digital topics in an accessible way.

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