What is proof of concept in software development? Likely something else than you think
Proof of concept in software development is a controversial topic. The person that came up with a software idea is usually convinced of its relevance. And stakeholders usually don’t want to spend time on something that is not even going to be included in the final product. However, the truth is that the more experienced one is, the more likely they will be interested in the software development proof of concept. Read and find out why it’s so important and how to best approach it.
What is proof of concept in software development?
Let’s start with an important distinction: the proof of concept in software development isn’t quite that sort of proof of concept most of entrepreneurs and startups people are used to. It has a lot more to do with the technical viability of a product rather than its market potential. But since software development and commercial success go hand in hand, let’s make a distinction between three confusing yet inseparable terms.
Proof of concept (market) – the most popular understanding of the term. At its core, it’s a way to make sure that your product (software) idea strikes a chord with your target audience at all. Let’s say, you’re pondering the idea of an app that helps people get a hug (there is actually an app like this!). Do you want to find out if it has a chance to find customers? Make a survey, start a kickstarter campaign or make a short movie a try to get people to talk about it. Doesn’t work? It may be that this is simply not that great of an idea… You can read more about proof of concept in that sense of the word here.
Minimum viable product – MVP is a term related to the Lean Startup methodology that is often confused with the market proof of concept. How does it differ? Supposed, you already made sure that it is possible for your software idea to be successful, since the people you asked expressed their interest. But it doesn’t mean that you have a product that delivers the right features and experience at the right price for the right customer. That’s what MVP is for. It’s an early version of your product developed to find out the optimal execution of the proof of concept that can be a successful product.
Proof of concept in software development – unlike the two terms above, proof of concept in software development isn’t meant to have a direct impact on the market, but it does influence it indirectly. It’s a process aimed at either determining whether your software idea can actually be built (at all or at reasonable cost), or finding the most effective technologies to use in the development.
Typical case scenarios for proof of concept in software development
When it comes to software development, your software house of choice can prove helpful regardless of which strategy you would like to use. Let’s a take a look at a few types of case scenarios.
1) Your company researches a way to use an app to solve a particular problem that arises during its everyday work. Our portfolio includes a good example – a program that calculates damage caused by underground mining in order to decrease the risk of huge compensations due to the subsidence of the surface area. It’s obvious from the start that providing an app that can do that successfully will greatly help the company. The question is whether it’s a feasible idea at all. The proof of concept in software development is by far the most important approach in this case. It’s not focused on any deliverables, but on research aimed at finding an optimal way to achieve the desired outcome.
2) You’re developing a mobile app that allows users to order food from local independent restaurants. It also includes a loyalty program. There are many apps like this, but chances are that yours has a brilliant twist to it that will make it stand out and succeed. Proof of concept in software development may still be necessary, but this time around it focuses on finding the best technologies to use to create a well-optimized app. Such processes are carried out internally by your software developers and are often conducted at the very beginning of the development process, in order to create a project specification. Regardless of the processes, an MVP can still be developed. Even if the optimal technologies are determined, you may still have doubts regarding how viable your idea is market-wise. A time and material or a fixed budget pricing method can be used to build an MVP. Since you are still not sure about what your product will eventually turn out to be, you opt for an iterative process that consists of coming up with basic versions of your product that have only essential features or even just a single feature, testing it with real customers and returning with feedback to the developer. This is where the Lean Startup methodology goes hand in hand with the iteration-based Agile methodologies of software development.
Benefits of proof of concept in software development
No matter which proof of concept strategy you will go for, there are plenty of benefits waiting for you:
- You can avoid spending a lot of money on something that is not viable market- or technology-wise
- You can get a tangible proof that your idea is worthwhile that will be difficult to argue against for other project stakeholders
Since getting a proof of concept in software development requires great expertise in both software development and your specific field of expertise (be it eCommerce, fintech or geomechanics), it takes a really good software house to make it justice. If your project has that sort of room for doubt, it’s vital for you to find a software company that has the proper resources, experienced developers and strong handle of a market to go with it. You can’t based your decision on a price alone.
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Also, read about the best programming language to learn in 2016.