During the first step in deciding what to build, often referred to as Product inception, there is sometimes challenging to decide whether to create a Proof of concept (POC), Prototype or Minimum viable product (MVP). Maybe the struggle would vanish if we did a combination? Or maybe they all refer to the same, only in different wrapping and/or context? Understanding and properly utilizing these three different methods could lead to a right path for the project. Determining what to do first, ensures that the product idea is well received by stakeholders and users. Which again can increase the chance of success when entering the market. Before we even dare to challenge ourselves to whether to develop a Prototype, MVP or POC, we should consider the following:
- Who are we targeting with this method?
- Who is our target audience for the product?
- What are we trying to validate?
- Use Proof of concept (POC) approach to verify: Is it doable?
- Use Prototype approach to verify: Is the usability of the design feasible?
- Use Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach to verify: Does the product bring value to the market?
Proof of Concept (POC)
A POC is normally used internally and performed as a small project to verify a concept or theory (often technical) that can be realized through development later on. There is often less focus on product usability and design because it is time-consuming at this stage, as to where the main purpose of this method is to verify that the principle concept is viable. The lack of focus on usability and layout is instead replaced with higher effort in proving that the concept is actually working, often in an isolated environment with little or no connection to the “real” product. At Gture, the usage of POC has become the go-to method to confirm whether our clients should move forward or do adjustments to the concept. This enables us to constantly share our knowledge internally and keep us on top of emerging technologies. The POC normally starts with an R&D, before the actual development starts. This is then used to get a buy-in from the business side for the upcoming project. Sometimes a POC can be a API documentation, or a simple sign-in function on a platform, or a lightweight WordPress template. The final POC do not need to be bug-free but should ultimately demonstrate the functionality of the concept. This approach enables us to assess the project before actually writing a single line of code in some cases.
A prototype is often considered as a working and interactive model of the end product. The objective is to communicate the design and navigation to the product user and other stakeholders, in order to attract a firm understanding of how the market will receive the product. Compared to a POC, which shows that a product or feature can be done A prototype will show how the product will be done. This is a valuable exercise to undertake since it allows you to create a visualization of how the product will function, highlighting user flows and use cases, and demonstrate an idea of the design and layout. Logical flaws and errors can be discovered early, yielding a valuable purpose to in fact building the prototype, to save costs in the long run. Handing the prototype over to users for testing can trigger new ideas and valuable design and development pivots towards the end product. A successfully built prototype can result in achieving early buy-in from end users, attract investors and setting the stage for the development of the MVP.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
MVP‘s have been fairly abused in the new era of Software Development since it points to a product with just enough features to satisfy early adopters, that can provide early invaluable feedback. Instead, businesses are using MVP’s wrongfully and approaches this definition as the first version of their final product, ready to penetrate the market, being able to generate revenue. MVP’s should be lighter than this and is normally influenced by Prototypes to set a direction for a holistic product. With a minimal form of the complete product being tested in the market, this allows to let the user interact, react to and learn the product before we waste a lot of money and resources building something they don’t want or need. While a prototype identifies issues during the early stage of the development, an MVP’s iterative nature is designed to identify users needs and pain points along the way during the development, until we have a more polished version of the product, while at the same time leveraging user intelligence to make the best decisions possible. An MVP tells us something about:
- Product viability
- Market demand
- Client initial product assumptions
However, the MVP definition differs from industry to industry based on business needs and organizational behavior. At Gture, we deliver products to the health sector, where a minimal feature set for a booking app can be complex as a industry standard. While in the EdTech sphere, a minimal feature can be a form for college applications. Regardless, an MVP is often an end-game for a prototype or a POC.
All of the approaches described above should be considered when enduring on a new product venture. These are quick and less expensive ways to validate a product, gaining traction from stakeholders and investors, alignment of the product team and reckoning the various improvement paths possible throughout the development lifecycle. By using one or more of these approaches enables you to enhance the go-to-market success, avoiding common pitfalls in launching a product. Each of these methods individually has its own advantage when used carefully, whether it is testing key business concepts early, winning over stakeholders, or validating marketability. At Gture, we have over time earned massive knowledge about which approach to attempt in different situations. Talk to us, and we will help you along the way for a better product launch. Book a meeting today.