Launching a new product or service may take a giant leap of faith, but a proof of concept (POC) can help you determine whether you can nail the landing before you jump. Intended for use during the initial stages of project development, a POC will test the viability of your idea and determine what you need to put it into action.
In this article, you’ll learn what to include in a proof of concept and why you should implement one at the early stages of product development. Whether you’re inventing educational software or developing an innovative new food service, a proof of concept will give you the insight you need to determine if your idea stands a chance of success.
What is a proof of concept?
A proof of concept is a demonstration of how a particular business idea works. You can use a proof of concept to show the feasibility of a product, service, business plan, or work process. Unlike a prototype, which is a working model of the proposed product, a proof of concept is a theoretical demonstration of the idea’s potential production and use.A proof of concept focuses on the viability of a project, so you can determine whether your idea is worth pursuing and what might be required to bring the concept to fruition.
Companies often produce a proof of concept before pitching their ideas to investors. Employees or team leaders within a company might also develop proof of concept documentation to present a new product idea to management. Additionally, project managers can use POC documents as a framework for determining the final product development process.
What should be included in a proof of concept?
A proof of concept should include an explanation of what the proposed product, service, or process does and how it is expected to work. Typically, a proof of concept is a document or presentation that introduces the audience to the idea, defines the target market, and gives an overview of the steps required to create the real-life version. Your final POC document should answer the following questions:
- Can you reliably produce the product or service in a real-world setting?
- What is the existing or potential market for this product or service?
- Does the proposed idea work as predicted?
- What technologies are necessary to smoothly run this project and produce the intended results?
- Is there feedback received during the POC process that you can incorporate into the final project?
Presenting a proof of concept to your project management team
If you’ve developed a proof of concept for a new product or process, presenting your idea to the project management team is the next step before implementation. You might prepare a document with visuals and illustrations or a physical working model of the proposed concept to give project managers a clear view of how the idea might work in practice.
Project managers want to know the likelihood of a business idea’s success before putting it into practice. A proof of concept document or presentation gives your management team the confidence to forge ahead and dedicate company resources toward product development.
The benefits of developing a proof of concept in a project’s early stages
During the earliest stages of a project, a proof of concept can help you decide what ideas are worth pursuing and identify any potential roadblocks before the development process has begun. Specific benefits of developing a proof of concept include:
- Validation of the core concept: At its core, the proof of concept shows whether developing your idea is feasible. Discovering fatal flaws in the production process at this stage helps you choose which projects to pursue further and which to drop in favor of other ideas.
- Cost predictions: Completing a proof of concept will give you a clear idea of the final project’s overall costs. You might uncover hidden costs during this process or find new ways to save money once the main project is underway.
- Verification of the predicted outcomes: The proof of concept shows you what to expect from the completed project. You may discover new uses or additional markets for your product or service during the proof of concept stage.
- Identification of risks: The POC process helps you spot risks or potential obstacles before you launch a product or service, so you can find ways to mitigate problems before they develop.
- Early feedback: A proof of concept gives you a chance to get feedback before the full project is in motion. This lets you make any necessary modifications before you fully invest in the idea.
- Showcase feasibility to investors: A POC that shows your proposed project has a high likelihood of a successful outcome can spur investors to approve the project.
Proof of concept examples
Proof of concept in software development
A company creating computer software or mobile apps may develop a proof of concept based around identifying a need in the market and proposing a new program to address that need. The POC would include an assessment of the time needed to build the program and whether current technology supports the goals of the software.
Proof of concept in pharmaceutical development
Pharmaceutical companies use proof of concept to assess whether new drugs meet efficacy requirements and can be produced in a way that generates profit for the manufacturer.
Proof of concept for a new food product
A proof of concept for a new type of snack food might begin with consumer surveys gauging interest in the flavor and style of the proposed snack. During the proof of concept process, team members would also research sourcing for ingredients, packaging, and production equipment to ensure the snack’s profitability.
Comparing proof of concept to MVP and prototype
Two other aspects of business development related to proof of concept are prototypes and minimum viable products (MVP). Important differences exist between these three things, though. The proof of concept is about ideas, so the point is to determine whether the proposal is likely to work as expected.
A prototype is a physical model of the product, which helps prove that it can be produced as described. A prototype may be part of the POC process as a way to present a working model to stakeholders. The MVP is the first fully working version of your product. It should be mostly polished, but early adopters may discover areas for improvement before it hits the mass market. In general, the POC shows that the product is viable, the prototype shows that production is practical, and the MVP queries the market so initial users can identify any issues missed during the prior stages of development.
Ensure your proof of concept is transparent and collaborative with monday.com
Developing a proof of concept project involves multiple steps — monday.com can help you manage your project from start to finish. Our customizable Project Management Templates let you visualize all stages of your project and loop in other team members so everyone can contribute their ideas and suggestions. For added transparency, Project Trackers highlight each step in the process.
Frequently asked questions
What does POC stand for?
POC stands for “proof of concept.”
How do you show proof of concept?
To show proof of concept, you create a demonstration or document that describes how you can produce and sell the product or service you have proposed.
What is the purpose of a POC?
The purpose of a POC is to prove that a proposed or planned business concept is viable before you commit to spending money and time on its implementation.
Developing an effective proof of concept process
A proof of concept sets the tone for your entire project by showing that your idea is workable and has a strong chance of success. Robust project management software can help take your idea from conception to final product. monday.com offers more than 1,000 templates to help with every stage of your project.