July 12, 2021
When developing software using Lean and Agile principles, running a proof of concept (PoC) helps to confirm the feasibility of an idea, an approach or a technology at an early stage. In this blog, Andrew Cherry, Solutions Architect at NashTech, discusses how to run a successful PoC and the value it can deliver.
What is a proof of concept (PoC)?
The purpose of a PoC is to validate an assumption that an idea, technology or approach is feasible, viable and applicable in practice.
In modern software development — following Lean and Agile principles — PoCs accelerate delivery by helping to get products to market faster. A PoC supports early-stage validation by giving users rapid access and allowing learning and iteration as efficiently as possible. A PoC can help to:
- Check the value of an idea or a planned change
- Confirm that the chosen development approach is correct
- Determine the limitations of a solution and make sure it's technically possible
- Check whether the solution matches the expectations of the target users
Just as usefully, a PoC can reduce risk by helping a product to ‘fail fast’ — preventing further development cost and effort being spent on a product that simply isn't viable.
PoCs in Adaptive Development Services (ADS)
A PoC is best run as a small project with a clear scope and objectives. To support project aims, the PoC needs to be highly focused, and completed quickly and to a high standard — without costing too much.
Here at NashTech we've re-thought the outsourced software development model to develop PoCs rapidly and cost-effectively using our Adaptive Development Services (ADS).
The key benefits of our approach are:
Agility. We can bring together the skills needed to develop a PoC within a week, and the resource commitment can be as short as a month. If the PoC is successful, we can quickly scale the team and follow up with a prototype. On the other hand, if the PoC shows that the proposition isn't viable, the team can be quickly disbanded, saving valuable time and resource.
Value. Through the large pool of skilled staff in our Vietnam development centres we offer technical developers and experienced project managers on a simple blended rate, who can deliver high-quality, cost-effective PoC results.
Effectiveness. Our deep development capability is complemented by our broad solutioning and engagement management experience. So we can advise our clients on shaping and positioning the use of PoCs in the most effective way.
How to run a successful PoC
Although part of a larger project, a PoC should be treated as a project in its own right. So like any other project, it must be clearly defined. We see four critical steps to creating a successful PoC.
1. Agree objectives and keep the scope of the project narrow
Agreeing clear objectives for the PoC comes first. Having common expectations about what the PoC should deliver allows the scope to be tightened during backlog refinement, especially when adopting Agile delivery for implementation.
Defining the scope for your PoC is key to getting accurate and useful results. Even if the PoC proves viability, that will be worthless if the scope isn't correct, and time and effort can be wasted. Ideally, you'll restrict the scope of the PoC to a single objective — for example, finding a solution to one problem. If the scope expands to cover too many things, you could end up failing to confirm anything!
Our engagement managers are experts at ensuring every PoC has the correct objectives and a tight scope.
2. Know the duration and effort
When you manage a PoC as a project, you'll keep the timeline short — usually no more than a few weeks. You'll want to be able to assemble a team quickly to do the job, but you won't want to engage too many resources.
Our ADS approach is quick to set up and offers low commitment. So, for example, a PoC project could be set up with two or three resources and a part-time project manager, and could be complete with results delivered within four weeks.
3. Pick the right resources
Choosing the right team to execute the PoC is as important as the process itself. You'll want to make sure they have the right skills to do a thorough job and deliver the required outputs, without costing too much.
Our developers and project managers have a proven track record of high-quality, cost-effective PoC delivery.
4. Choose the right criteria to assess outcomes
For accurate and relevant outcomes, you need a set of project metrics that will allow you to collect pertinent PoC results, and determine success or failure. These measurable criteria for assessing success must be decided upfront.
Our solutions team can help you ask the right questions to determine what is really critical, to help ensure you get the outputs you need to manage business risks and costs.
How NashTech can help
NashTech’s Adaptive Development Services (ADS) have been designed to deliver results from PoCs quickly, cost effectively and with certainty. Together with our solutions team and engagement managers we can work with you to build successful PoCs to help you accelerate your digital transformation with less risk.