From Concept to Reality – Critical Differences Between PoC, MVP, and Prototypes
Software development has come a long way from just writing code to create applications. Today, it involves a range of methodologies and techniques to ensure that the software produced is high quality and meets the user’s needs.
Three terms commonly used in the industry are PoC (proof of concept), MVP (minimum viable product), and prototype application. They’re names for different stages of creating software, although they don’t necessarily have to come one after another.
If you’re developing an internal project or an application with a software house, you could start with a PoC, then upgrade to an MVP and finally develop the full version. Or you could go directly for the prototype. You could also create a full-fledged product without any of these three stages. So what exactly do we mean by PoC, MVP and prototype? And when should you use them?
Proof of Concept (PoC)
A proof of concept (PoC) is a preliminary model or design that verifies the feasibility of a concept or idea. It’s pretty much a testing phase that determines whether a concept or idea is viable before proceeding to further development of the product.
A proof of concept mainly tests a program or app’s technical side and determines whether a project is worth investing time and resources into. The primary goal of a PoC is to identify any potential technical, usability or market issues in the idea or concept.
Proof of concept – VR training app
Now let’s consider a VR training application for the construction industry. It would be sold to medium and large companies through the internet with the purpose of providing workers with realistic and immersive training in tasks they may encounter on the job. This could help reduce on-site accidents, improve productivity, and reduce training costs.
A proof of concept for our VR training application could involve creating a basic 3D model of a construction site where users could practice simple tasks and procedures like putting their safety gear on or pouring concrete.
The user could interact with the model and receive feedback on their performance. While more advanced features, such as multiplayer mode or different scenarios, could be added later, this PoC would be useful to demonstrate the concept’s viability.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A minimum viable product (MVP) is the minimum functional version of a product that can be launched into the market. It’s the first iteration of the development path, with only the core features implemented.
The design means it has only the features required for user testing within the target audience. It allows companies to evaluate the viability of the business idea, collect early feedback, check if there is market demand and identify areas for improvement. It’s not the final version, but because it’s a launchable version, it can generate revenue from the very beginning while still testing the product concept.
MVP development is also great for startup development because you can potentially cover some of the development costs with the revenue made on early users.
VR training as a minimum viable product
Let’s return to our example app for a moment. As we said, the MVP version should be enough to demonstrate the concept’s viability and generate interest in the product. It could be created from scratch, or as an interaction, by adding features to the PoC.
As a product ready for launch, the MVP would have to be equipped with all the necessary features, although in their basic form. Besides simple scenarios for presenting the app’s capabilities, this version would have to offer specific training environments that could be practically used by construction workers.
A prototype is an early version of the product developed to validate the design and user experience (UX). The prototype application is designed to get initial feedback and identify potential usability and design issues that can be improved before the final launch.
It’s a realistic representation of the final product and can be either low or high-fidelity, depending on the requirements of the project. So it allows you to gather user feedback about the specific app idea and design, not just the general of the software. This means a mobile app prototype is usually more advanced than the proof of concept or minimum viable product.
Prototypes are especially useful in XR development as they demonstrate the immersive experience before any significant investment is made. They’re often critical to validate the mechanics of the VR experience, such as user interaction, spatial awareness, and the overall narrative of the experience.
Prototype of the VR training application
As a prototype, the VR training application for the construction industry would have more advanced features and functionality than the PoC or MVP. It would be a more complete version of the app that can be tested and refined before launch.
The prototype could include more complex training scenarios and tasks, a wider range of construction equipment, and more detailed 3D models of construction sites. It could also have more advanced feedback mechanisms, such as real-time performance analysis and the ability to track progress over time.
Compared to the PoC and MVP, the prototype would be more polished and closer to the final product, allowing for more thorough testing and user feedback. This could help inform the development of the full version of the app.
As for the full version, it would have all the features and functionality of the prototype but with additional refinements and improvements based on user feedback and testing. It could also include more advanced features, such as multiplayer mode, AI-driven training scenarios, and the ability to simulate a wider range of construction environments and scenarios.
Overall, the prototype would be more advanced and polished than the MVP, but not as complete as the full version of the app. To put it short, a prototype is an important step in the development process, helping to refine the product and ensure that it meets the needs of construction workers and industry professionals.
PoC vs prototype applications
In short, the main differences between PoC and a prototype are:
- PoC is a small-scale implementation that is designed to validate the feasibility of an idea or a concept, while a prototype is a functional model or a mockup of the final product that is used to test and validate the design and usability of the product.
- PoC is focused on testing the basic functionality of the product or technology and determining if it’s worth investing more time and resources into further development, while a prototype is focused on refining the product’s user experience, identifying design flaws, and testing different features and functionalities.
- PoC is typically used to gather feedback from stakeholders or to identify potential problems or limitations that need to be addressed before moving to the next stage of development, while a prototype is often used to gather feedback from users, stakeholders, or investors and to refine the product based on that feedback.
PoC vs MVP – main differences
In summary, the main differences between PoC and MVP are:
- As we said, a PoC is a small-scale implementation to validate the feasibility of an idea. An MVP, on the other hand, is a functional product with essential features to solve a customer’s problem or deliver value to the user.
- PoC is not intended to be a final product or a market-ready solution, while MVP is released in the market to gather user feedback and validate assumptions.
- PoC is used to identify potential problems or limitations before moving to the next stage of development, while MVP is continuously improved based on customer feedback and usage data.
What are the advantages of an MVP over a prototype?
MVPs are an effective way for companies to test the market and validate their product concept quickly and cost-effectively while gathering valuable feedback from early adopters and customers to improve the final product. While prototypes have their own benefits, they are generally more time-consuming and expensive to develop and are better suited for refining the product design rather than testing the market.
Here are the biggest advantages of an MVP over a prototype in mobile app development:
- Faster time-to-market. MVPs are designed to be released quickly with only the essential features necessary to satisfy early customers’ needs. This allows companies to get their product to market faster and start generating revenue sooner than if they were to spend more time perfecting a prototype.
- Customer feedback. MVPs are released to early customers to gather feedback, allowing companies to refine the product based on real-world usage. This feedback can be used to improve the product’s usability, functionality, and features, ensuring that the final product meets the customer’s needs.
- Cost-effective. MVPs are less expensive to develop than prototypes, as they require fewer features and resources. This makes them a cost-effective way for companies to test the market and validate their product concept.
- Market validation. MVPs are designed to test the market and validate that there is a demand for the product before investing more resources in development. This reduces the risk of investing time and money in a product that may not have a market, ultimately saving the company from potential losses.
Why you’ll probably need one of the three
In conclusion, PoCs, MVPs, and prototypes are important stages in software development. You don’t have to go through any of them, although we recommend starting with a basic form of an app before you develop the full version.
Why? Estimates say that as much as 99% of commercial applications are failures. Among the most prominent causes are things like insufficient testing, a bad user experience, or not understanding the needs of your target audience. A lot of software projects wouldn’t have failed had their creators carried out proper testing and listened to feedback. And using a PoC or MVP is the best way to effectively and efficiently perform all the necessary tests.
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