Proof of Concept vs Proof of Code

I have noticed some confusion in senior managers and customers over the letters PoC.

I have noticed some confusion in senior managers and customers over the letters PoC.

The fact is these letters can be used to describe many actions dependent on the industry one is involved in.

So, the first thing I will make clear is I am talking about Software and Product Development, Proof of Concept, not Proof of Code or Pirates of the Caribbean.

I have often heard statements from senior managers and customers such as,

“If we spend all this money on a PoC where does that put us in the project? 10%, 20% 30% completed”

There is usually a significant silence when one explains that the results of a PoC may well be thrown away or inconclusive and there may be several PoC’s before a specific result is obtained.

At this point, I should make it clear that in this context, a Proof of Concept is a small trial to prove that a specific function, hardware device, method or mathematical formula is verified and that the theoretical concept has practical potential.

A PoC is much closer aligned to Research rather than Development.

Where there are complex issues flagged in a project a PoC is a valuable tool used to test theory before committing to a full product.

A PoC can be as simple as Breadboarding a circuit or a small segment of code or as complex as a rough prototype of the whole project; that is determined by the complexity of the required solution.

PoC work is not usually released to a customer or a third party for testing, testing is performed in- house as one is simply trying to prove a theory, not impress the customer.

When product development has been completed to a satisfactory state it is released as a PILOT project to specific customers or users for testing and comment, so we should not confuse PoC and MVP these are two very different functions of product development.

I have observed in business some sale processes may allow a fully developed product to be released to a vendor to test viability in their operations and often have heard this described as a PoC (Proof of Concept). That is stretching the original meaning of Proof of Concept ( see Carstens Corner 1984).

This may well have led to the confusion of its meaning by management and customers.

Therefore, a Proof of Concept does not necessarily reduce time to market, but it can save considerable delays in the product development process.

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