In a journey to innovation or to a new, better-performing product –
the first major step is to Proof the Conceptual feasibility of the original
Idea. It should be relatively inexpensive and quick and cover burning questions
and concerns that could be dealbreakers on the way to a successful
The proper definition of this fundamental step is often lost on cooperating
parties – which brings misalignment in the expectations of what one should
get as the result of a Proof of Concept.
Proof of Concept Definition
For an innovation, an upgraded product, or a completely new concept –
everything starts with a Demand and an Idea of how to supply that demand.
During the ideation process eventually, the conceptual and theoretical
alignments are reached – and there is nothing else left than getting to the
practical implementation of this idea – This is when a Proof of Concept comes
There is a variety of options to prove the feasibility through a PoC
Demo: a low budget incomplete and rough version of the end
Animation: visualisation of the expected solution – as
the solution is new, a visual representation can help with the decision-making
of further development.
Feasibility test reports: include diagrams, conclusions,
and illustrations showcasing the answers of previously set questions that a PoC
should address. This may not have a physical material as a result, but the
conclusive proof of feasibility is rather valuable.
Focus Group/Lead User: testing the custom audience interact
with the product as a proof of idea, concept, and a way to gather new knowledge
and insights for further development.
Proof of the Tech: purely technical feasibility of the
solution without need for a certain user interface.
Mockup: non-functional prototype of an end product. This
simply looks like the end product however it may have a different scale and no
Depending on the type of business, there are certain details a PoC should
cover, however it is important to note that in nature, logic, and
motivation – PoC is not meant to find commercial aspects of a
business like the market demand for it, bring to a Minimum Viable Product (or
even final Prototype), and neither to determine the best production
process, although as a result of a PoC there is surely much more
knowledge to base the financial decisions on as well (i.e., potential cost of
Instead, a PoC is there to validate certain aspects of a
product/process/service, to make sure there are no deal-breaking obstacles on
the way to implementing the idea.
This means that there should be a Proof of Concept definition
between the teams involved, which should end up in a list of insights that
generate confidence in the final product, or specific risks to tackle during
Therefore a Proof of Concept is an exploratory study, enabling informed
decision-making toward the potential development of an idea toward a final
Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs MVP
A PoC is not a Prototype. This section of the blog could have ended here,
however, let us further explore the ideological differences between
In the development of innovation/product/service, the prototype (be it 1st
prototype or final one) is an essential subject of work, it is the main
practical step of getting an idea a feasible reality.
A prototype is a working model of the final solution with limited
functionality. Once a prototype is ready, it goes through approval
based on the potential possibility to become a Minimum Viable
Product (MVP), and eventually be marketed.
Even though the goals of prototype and PoC are similar (development of an
idea, identifying product’s potential and risks, etc.) – we can grasp
their uniqueness by the “audience” they are meant for. Roughly speaking,
A Proof of Concept is primarily meant for the technical and R&D audience – who
will confirm a technical possibility If the solution (a feature of the product)
can be developed; while a Prototype is meant for decision makers to understand
How the solution will be developed, and have a complete global overview of all
possible aspects of the operation (including financial, user experience,
technical priorities in operation, etc.).
For reference, a Minimum Viable Product is the actual ready
version of it, however it is a common understanding that even after complex PoC
and Prototyping activities, there may be some polishing involved after the
solution is out in the market – this is why the developers implement
feedback-based change management once a product is out for a selected group of
How to ensure a PoC is successful?
This might be stating the obvious, but after the Ideation process a Proof of
Concept is going to happen either way during the development – sometimes it
happens during the implementation of the idea by skipping the feasibility study,
sometimes it works, and often it does not and the manufacturer finds out the
defects of the idea once it is already in production. Examples of this are
everywhere even with high-end products coming in faulty or sometimes even
With this said, a Proof of Concept is successful, first and foremost when it
is conducted before the real-life manufacturing of the products, and only then,
it is as successful as the proper preparation and implementation of the
Let’s prioritize and list the steps for successful PoC.
1. Research and Development
The history of similar work, the successful or faulty use cases analytics on
what data already exists based on experience, published scholarly articles on
these themes, interviews, and references from relevant professionals in the
sector, and other activities to research as much on the topic as it is
accessible and necessary. Often an R&D team is working on a project that has
never been done before, thus there may be little to no references for them, in
this case, the R&D team may rely on:
Set prompt and relevant experiments to create the necessary knowledge of
Their own professional reference in the field
In these cases, it may take longer to build up a PoC, however it becomes a
bigger value too – as an exclusive finding and knowledge that can be shared
with others in the industry.
2. Specification of the Demand of the Idea
Once the research around the topic is conducted it is important to know who
will use the final product, why, in what environment, and gather as many details
about a final use case as possible. At first, it may seem like this is a job for
the innovation lead or a task coming from simply a business background –
however, the answers to the aforementioned questions can drastically pivot the
PoC as well as the rest of the development.
3. Is the Idea in Fact Feasible?
We have already found the need for technical feasibility, meaning if it is
possible to implement the idea – however, it is not less important to
understand the implementation feasibility of the idea
Are there any third-party tools you will need to use for
Is there an outsourced service to hire, and are there any equivalents if
this service fails?
Cost of implementation (manufacturing of parts, hardware and software
alignments, staff and systems needed for maintenance and repair, etc.)
Is the idea technically scalable?
Justification for Investment in PoC
For Internal management, not directly involved in innovation and R&D tasks – it
may be difficult to quickly grasp the understanding of why a PoC is needed. And
even for the R&D rep – why not have a clarification of practical
decision-making reasons behind a PoC once and for all?
1.Understand the Issues In-depth
There is always speculative questioning involved in the ideation phase, with
the notion of “what can go wrong?”. A Proof of Concept helps to detect the
severity of these potential issues, the priority of addressing them in the
future, the possibility of addressing them in the future at all, or if these
issues are in fact non-existent.
2.Reduction of potential risks
As a PoC is a smaller project, dedicated to identifying potential
feasibility – it gives an opportunity not only to know the potential risks
but also to analyze the ways how to address them best. It is a unique stage of
gathering knowledge, rather than delivering the final, identified product, thus
researchers and innovators of a company shine here the most and bring the
biggest return on the investment in their labor.
3.Usefulness and potential Success definition
A PoC helps to know in advance if a product can, in fact, be useful for a
potential user, or if e.g. it will have to cost much more than expected in the
ideation phase. This phase helps the manufacturer understand if the gap in the
market can be met by the new product they are working on – or if it is time
to stop the process before it is too late.
4.Spend on PoC and save on Time, Reputation and Expenses
Perhaps the most important advantage of a PoC and one of the largest
motivations for a feasibility study is gathering certain security of potential
large investments on time and financial resources, and keeping away from the sad
reputation of a non-released product that “ate up” vast amounts of
A PoC is meant to prove the functionality of a product or identify the
battles that cannot be fought – this cannot be done in the ideation phase and
it may be too late in the prototyping phase.
See the ideation phase results in a concept that is usually exciting and
sparkles with potential – however, should you be deep in spending, and months
of development – certain unsolvable issues may come up, proving the waste of
the time of the teams involved in the work, the resources spent and thus the
reputation is exposed to potential PR scandals.
What is our Experience with Proof of Concept?
Our own experience at RVmagnetics has shown that different
corporate and business cultures from all over the world have their unique
effects during these internal in-depth identifications of the issues. Sometimes
a PoC result was expected to put the process on positive rails, and if any
additional obstacle was discovered during the PoC – the project would be shut
down, while in other cases the partners were glad and had an initial expectation
do identify obstacles during PoCs, as it is the soonest point to do so and can
be addressed right away (and only if the obstacles would not be possible to
tackle, could the project be shut down).
There were also great learnings with strategic partners choosing to invest in
two PoCs with opposite, competing logics for the same idea, to clearly identify
the more relevant one (or possibly none) for a further development stage. Other
partners preferred to strategically invest their R&D capital in PoCs that
identified new, a potential solution for their further R&D plans activities,
which they would later take over and start development rather promptly, as they
already had the initial confidence of the technology from the
Eventually, we can conclude that it is better to invest in a quick and
relatively inexpensive Proof of Concept and potentially be left without a final
product than to invest in a long-term project and spend months/years, great
expenses, and the important time of the personnel – and yet still, be left
without a product.