The most economical and fastest way to develop a product is to create a Proof of Concept (POC) or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). A Proof of Concept (POC) is a realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle.
Its aim is to verify that some theory or concept has practical potential. POC may or may not be complete and is usually small.
On the other hand, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and to provide feedback for future product development.
The MVP approach doesn’t oppose the need for conducting market research. You’ll only solve the most pressing problems first as you gather feedback since you don’t have to address all the problems at once.
Unlike a concept test or prototype, an MVP is designed to answer technical questions, product design and test important business hypotheses.
Importance of POC or MVP
Reasons for developing POC or MVP vary from testing a hypothesis to financial and technical. The concept is to create and launch a product quickly then test it in the market.
You’ll add more features to grow it if the idea is accepted. If the market rejects it, use customers’ feedback to improve it further or drop the idea completely. Below are reasons to build a POC:
Developing a POC or MVP will help you save costs since you’ll only spend a small amount of your budget. You won’t deal with the issue of having no returns on money invested.
For instance, you may want your website developed but later on realize that mobile will soon be big. So, you might consider launching something on mobile but you shouldn’t invest in building native apps immediately especially if the smartphone market is still developing.
You may instead opt to build a cross-browser mobile site for your users with guidance from a software development company. Since the cross-browser is compatible with HTML 5, you’ll save costs compared to development costs for separate native apps like iOS and Android.
Win Potential Customers
Sometimes building a POC is necessary when you want to propose a new idea to a client or showcase your expertise to potential clients so as to win them.
For instance, you may want to approach a large oil refinery company for a bigger project. You’ll have to build an iPad app (POC) for the company’s staff to act as an interactive map that will help users locate easily different areas in the oil refinery.
The iPad app (POC) should be used as a pitch and to make clients’ aware of a particular technology and its benefits to their business.
Test Technical Feasibility
Sometimes you may not be sure about the technical feasibility of a particular module or the whole product but still want to develop a product. For instance, you may want to develop a mobile version for one of your flagship product that should be optimized for major tablets and smartphones.
However, you may not be sure if it’s possible to build the pinch zoom functionality with HTML 5 or whether you should go for a native mobile app. Since you want a solution that’s cross platform compatible, the software development company you approach should recommend a solution that saves costs for you without compromising user experience.
The concept behind the software company developing a POC should be to build and test the functionality. At this point, the company isn’t sure if HTML 5 can offer technical feasibility to develop pinch zoom functionality yet it’s important to user experience.
Once the company is able to implement the pinch zoom functionality after developing POC, then your product can be built using HTML 5.
Attract Investors for Funding
Developing an MVP and pitching it to investors will help you get funding for your product from venture capitalists. For instance, you may want to scale up and develop a fully fledged product after testing your MVP. Depending on the scope of your project, you should first build a POC showcasing your final product to investors in order to get funding.
Test User Acceptance of the Product
There are times, you may want to develop and launch a new product to the market on a large scale but aren’t sure if your target audience will accept or reject the product. You may also not be sure whether your idea is ready or if the users will accept it and if there are enough customers to buy your product so as to get a return on your investment.
For instance, if your idea is to sell a collection of rare Asian art and your market of art lovers and collectors is in the United Kingdom; this means your product isn’t for the masses but for the classes.
You may think your customers will use iPads for shopping thus decide to sell your products through an iPad store instead of a website that can be accessed by anyone.
However, when you approach a software development company to build a native iPad app as the backend in order to manage products; you realize you can scale and reach more users by not only using the iPad app but also creating a website.
Explore Financial Viability
Though it is easy to develop a product, finding customers who are ready to pay for it isn’t easy. Thus, the product’s financial visibility is critical when it comes to sustaining its long-term profitability.
For instance, if you want to develop an online gift store targeting customers visiting restaurants and coffee shops within your locality; you should first develop a prototype with few features then test it to determine whether your idea will be accepted and if it will be financially successful before scaling.
Your idea should be based on launching a mobile page that’s customized for restaurant deals when a customer scans a given code while inside the restaurant then buy gifts using their smartphones. Once you’ve launched your idea, modify it based on users’ feedback.
Advantages of Building a POC or MVP
You should develop a POC or MVP before embarking on a new project and designing all the features of your final product. Benefits of POC or MVP include:
What to Look Out for When Building POC or MVP
Know Your Objectives
POC or MVP objectives are meant for education purposes and to eliminate a user’s objections to your product that might prevent a sale. The user needs to determine your product can offer the savings promised by your sales team and it works in a way that meets their operational guidelines.
Discover Unique User Challenges
You may have demonstrated to your user how your product works before developing POC or MVP. However, they may have not yet understood your product since demonstrations are usually brief. Thus, you should find out from your users any goals they wish to attain but are not part of your POC and misconceptions they could be having about your product.
Break Variables into Small Parts
One of the reasons for developing POC or MVP is to know how different variables affect its performance. You should be careful when combining the variables in one breadboard since there are lots of them to test. Break models that are complex into different builds that separate complex systems from each other. You can later on combine them closely to resemble the final product.
Build for Test Parameters
You should design your product around the variables you think have the biggest influence on test and performance. Conduct a lot of experiments by tweaking several variables then adjust your model after discovering the variables that matter and those that don’t.
Build, Test and Iterate
You’ll realize that you’ll have to discard or change part of your initial work. You’ll come across a scenario you hadn’t anticipated. Therefore, think creatively and be flexible by referring back to the drawing board, iterating and modifying your model until you find the solution.
Understand Your User’s Environment
You should show the user how you intend to use the components outlined in your proof of concept. Though a POC or MVP is usually built while working with business and technical teams in the company, you should also work with non-business and technical teams to create a usable product.
You should identify the person you’ll work with and who should be present upon your arrival on the ground while installing POC.
POC and MVP are the best foundation for developing successful products. You should discover risks and be ready to fail before building a product that’s accepted by your target users.
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About The Author
My name is Stuti Dhruv & I am senior consultant at Aalpha, primarily working on pre sales, consulting with clients on latest technology trends.