It will be a dark day for IT when we run out of TLA’s (three letter acronymns) so I felt it was essential to give a few of them another airing.
I’ve been involved in many ‘ Proof of concept’ projects over the years, and to be honest I never really saw them as sinister enemies of progress, however for a while now the idea of ‘proving a concept’ has seemed increasingly inappropriate.
When you embark on a project you normally already have a concept, the term’ proof of concept’ is just a bit wooly – you come to the end and – it’s still a concept, there will be less unknowns, so you might have proven that some things you suspected were possible are in fact possible, but what you’re probably really interested in is value – will anybody buy it if you spend the extra effort which will be required to turn it into a full product?
The lines are further blurred by prototyping tools like Sketch or Marvel – they allow you to quickly form a pretty realistic visualisation of a system which can form the basis of product demos and can be useful in the actual design process, but they’re simply proof that you can quickly assemble some clever graphics, they don’t really help to reveal any detail of underlying complexity because they’re quick sketches.
Proof of value is gained if these are then used to get positive feedback from clients and engineers – and the stage beyond the mock up is the classic ‘MVP’ – minimum viable product ; what will get us up and running quickly with real customers, providing real value.