December 24, 2020

Proof of Concept, Prototype, and MVP: The Purpose and Benefits

The three may seem similar but are extremely different. What are they for and how do they improve product development?

Proof of Concept, Prototype, and MVP: The Purpose, Audience and Benefits

No one wants to launch a product that nobody needs. 

Before developing a full-fledged product, it’s necessary to see proof of its viability and likelihood of attracting investments and users. That is why these three tools exist — the Proof of Concept (POC), the prototype, and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

What are they for, who are they for, and how to they improve the product development process? 

Research: Proof of Concept (POC)

Question: Can it be done?man looking at whiteboard product mapping plan

When companies cannot yet be sure if they can trust your idea or your capabilities as a development team, what you need to do is convince them that they can. That’s what a Proof of Concept does. 

Especially for concepts or methods that are new to the market, a POC sells your idea by verifying that your hypothesis has the potential for real-world application.

Unlike a prototype and an MVP, a Proof of Concept isn’t customer-focused and is only shared within the product team. Being in the research phase of the product development process, its focus is not yet on representing deliverables or gathering feedback, but on laying the foundation by determining technical and functional feasibility.

Usually, these feasibility tests are done on specific functions within the product. A great example would be Walmart testing blockchain technology on cross-border product tracking before officially implementing it into their logistics.

Purpose:

1. To test a product’s technical feasibility.
2. To validate a particular feature or functionality.
3. To prove that a product can perform as envisioned.

Audience: 

Product team.

Benefits:

1. Saves time and costs.
2. Gives potential investors confidence.
3. Saves resources and reduces risk.

Design: Prototype

Question: How can it be done?marvelapp prototype design uiux user flows
Image: Marvel

After a POC proves that an idea is viable, prototypes come next in line. 

As a mockup created to visualize elements and user interaction flows, prototypes focus on UI/UX design and getting feedback on usability and user experience. Designers in a product team work with wireframes to produce an imitation that is interactive and reflective of the desired look and feel of the product.

Being part of the design phase of the product pipeline, prototypes often underlie MVPs in the development phase. It is extremely useful for early investor demonstrations and user testing.

Purpose:

1. To visualize functionality and user flows.
2. To highlight design, usability, and user experience.
3. To get early feedback from end users.

Audience: 

Product team and select users.

Benefits:

1. Identifies technical challenges early.
2. Attracts investors and encourages funding.
3. Saves resources and reduces risk.

Develop: Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A Minimum Viable Product, also known as an Earliest Testable Product or pilot, is generally defined as “a standalone application that is launch-ready”.

Henrik Kniberg explains on Crisp’s blog that building an MVP is less about building an incomplete or to-be-completed version of your product, but delivering the smallest or simplest possible way to fulfill your users’ underlying needs. It has to be testable and usable because unlike a prototype, MVPs are released to the public for real users to put their hands on and respond to.

henrik kniber illustration mvp car product pipeline

At this point of a project, although close to a full-fledged launch, it’s more about selling people a function rather than the actual product. It’s giving them a tool that helps them achieve a goal the same, despite it being different from the product you’re planning to eventually arrive at.

User feedback plays an important role in this stage of development. With the help of constructive feedback, a team figures out how to iterate on their MVP and transform it from a Minimum Testable Product to a Minimum Usable Product, and finally to a Minimum Lovable Product that is marketable and close to their final vision. 

Purpose:

1. To assess and reduce risks of failure.
2. To get more feedback from end users.

Audience: 

Product team and general public.

Benefits:

1. Saves development time and costs.
2. Reduces time-to-market.
3. Draws focus onto essentials.

Build With Us

If you’re thinking about building a digital product but aren’t sure where to begin, Snappymob might be able to help you.

Our team is equipped with product designers and developers who are well versed in the entire product pipeline, from research to development to launch. Let us know how we can bring your ideas to life!