I was quite shocked recently when I overheard someone saying “We’ll come up with a quick MVP to get a better understanding on the client’s thoughts” — talking as if a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a Proof of Concept (POC).
Did you, by any chance, made the same mistake in your business plans?
It is very common, especially for entrepreneurs and start-ups to fall into this trap- confusing heavily between a POC and MVP. Perhaps, now you would have got the answer for the situation where your great idea did not resonate with your ideal customers.
There is a fundamental difference between a POC and MVP. A POC is largely a tool to determine the technical and design challenges. A MVP, on the other hand, is a concept that not only defines the product design or but also answers all technical questions and tests fundamental business hypotheses.
It is imperative for you to have a clear understanding on the differences between the two concepts before beginning product development and we would try to exemplify this for you.
A POC is a tool while an MVP is a product. To understand the importance of POC and MVP, as a whole, you can read Why Developing A POC Or A MVP Before Developing Final, Complete Product Makes Sense.
Proof-Of-Concept (POC) v/s Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A Proof-of-concept (POC) is an exercise that brings in a thorough understanding on the product. It is conducted much before the actual planning for a product begins. A proof of concept is about defining whether your product has a market. This has to do more with validating that the product will make some sense to the customers.
The entire exercise circles around the efforts to ensure your concept can work.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is, rather, a form of the nominal solution ready for the customers. This product gives you a path to gather a real feedback from your target customers and the draft and decide the further course of development. An MVP relates to validating the fact the solution your product is providing matches the needs of the customers.
Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Eric Ries shares a descriptive example of MVP and its significance.
A POC Helps You:
- In identifying what you want to build and how do you prove that your product will sell.
- Be time boxed. It allows you to define the timeline of building the product.
- Describe the amount of efforts that need to be put into the job.
A MVP Allows You:
- To test and validate the product viability.
- Validate the hypothesis you have for the business.
- Assess the actual demand for the product in market.
- Validate the scope for your product’s usability.
POC And MVP – Exemplified
A proof of concept is about defining whether your product has a market. This has to do more with validating that the product will make some sense to the customers. An MVP is a more advanced stage where some part of your product is complete enough to actually launch it in front of users for first trail and feedback.
Let us take the example of a project where your customer asked you to create a parking app for his office complex where the user is able to open the entry barrier through his mobile. This project, based on the concept of Internet of Things (IOT), has a key requirement that the entry barrier open by click of a button on the user’s mobile through the app. The entire payment or subscription for the payment etc is taken care of automatically.
The POC of this project will look something like this
Here, you, as a team of developers and others, would only test or validate the concept in terms of trying to open the barrier using a mobile. No other functionality, features, investment or even developmental planning will take place at this stage. So, a POC is prepared much before the actual planning for the development begins. If the validation doesn’t occur at this stage, you may need to call off the idea of the project.
The MVP of this project, on the other hand, will look somewhat like this
Once the POC validates the concept of your project, the actual role of an MVP begins. Here, your team would not just look at the basic validation. It would rather build a product which has the basic minimum features ready for use by a select group of customers. To be more precise here, you would now look at a login/sign up option, payment option as well as login history on the mobile device. All of this should lead to the opening of the barrier upon clicking the button. You would have to then allow users to try it and share their feedback.
Why Does Differentiating POC and MVP Matters
- Enhancing the validation
- Defining a better business model
- Testing the hypothesis in a real world
- Clearly understanding the operational challenges
- Saving time and efforts in planning
- Testing processes and operational fitness
Understanding the basic difference between POC and MVP is very crucial and significant in software development. Since a POC is done ahead of planning the development, it allows you to discard the idea if it fails to test. This saves your long-ensured money and time. Also, if the idea is validated, it prominently demonstrates the promised value of the product–helping you know that your product will succeed in the market.
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