What We Get Wrong About Proof-Of-Concept
(2 Min Read) How to avoid building a POC that scales.
POC stands for Proof of Concept, and that’s what it should be. Sometimes in big tech (by sometimes, I mean often enough), POC seems to have taken on a different meaning.
POC is becoming PRPOC or Production Ready Proof Of Concept. And every time I see that, I am like:
We should only build POC to see if the concept or the theory works. It should NOT be scalable, bug-free, and solve all corner cases. That’s what a final product is supposed to do, except for being bug-free.
Good POC Vs. Bad POC
A good POC is a series of things sticking together by loose threads long enough to collect the data that confirms/denies the theory.
A good POC is usually:
Scrappy as hell
It gives a signal that the concept works or not
And, most importantly, time-bounded (2 days to 1 week, max)
A bad POC is:
Solving corner cases
Taking a long time (1+ months) to build, and
Claims to be production scalable 🤦♂️
Some of you may say, “there is nothing wrong with building a scalable production-ready POC. Startups do it all the time.”
And you will be correct. Startups lack resources and don’t have much time. They are building POC to find a product-market fit. Once they find it, they scale their POC until they secure the funding to rebuild it.
On the other hand, big companies have plenty of resources and time. But that doesn’t mean that POC should be at production scale.
How to create a POC
Hackathon projects are the best POC. Such projects have a minimal scope, i.e., trying to do only one thing, stitched together with duct tapes, and are working in less than two days.
If you want to create a POC, do it hackathon-style.
When POCs becomes a PRPOC
Note: This is my theory and if you disagree, tell me in the comments why.
When a POC is considered a milestone in the product development lifecycle, it leads to PRPOC. In those cases, the rollout plan would look like this:
POC => Phase I => Phase II => Alpha => Beta => GA
It implies that we are not doing POC to check the feasibility of the concept but buying time to build phase I.
POC Vs. Prototype
The other thing worth calling out is that POC and Prototypes are two different things. The comparison below highlights that:
In short, when building a POC, be intentional about it. Have a theory that you must be proved or disproved with the POC. If the theory is confirmed, build a prototype and iterate (more on that in a different post).
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