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Proof of Concept (PoC)

By Dan Collins

Updated: May 7th, 2024

Reviewed by: Kirsty Kearney Greig

Fact checked by: Megan Saker

What is a proof of concept (PoC)?

A proof of concept (PoC) is a mini experiment for your product – a smaller, focused test designed to validate a specific part of your solution. Instead of building everything at once, when making a proof of concept you create a simplified version that tackles one key question.

Maybe you want to see if your users like a new feature, confirm a particular approach is technically possible, or you need to validate your assumptions about market fit. Getting these answers early on means that you can identify potential problems and refine your concept before committing big resources.

The key to a successful PoC is keeping it focused and efficient. You’re not aiming to build a complete product here. Instead, you strategically limit the scope to the most critical features or uncertainties.

This targeted approach lets you test what truly matters, gather valuable insights, and make informed decisions without getting bogged down in complexities.

Why would you use a proof of concept as a Product Manager?

As a Product Manager, dealing with uncertainties and transforming visionary ideas into viable products is your bread and butter. An effective proof of concept can help you make that happen, as it lets you test the waters in a controlled, manageable environment before plunging into full-scale development.

Making a proof of concept can have several important benefits, such as:

Risk mitigation

Launching a new product or feature can be a high-stakes game. A PoC allows you to address and mitigate significant risks early on as it’s a practical demonstration of how the concept performs under realistic conditions.

This is particularly useful when you’re exploring innovative or disruptive ideas – times when the market responses and technical feasibility aren’t easily predicted.

Improved resource management

Managing your resources well is an important part of successful Product Management. PoCs can help you ensure you don’t jump the gun by committing significant resources – time, budget, and human capital –  to concepts that haven’t been adequately tested.

Creating a PoC lets you leverage minimal resources to gain lots of information, and it helps you be certain that only the most promising ideas receive full-scale investment.

Stakeholder engagement and buy-in

In many companies, securing buy-in from your stakeholders is as challenging as actually making the product. Stakeholders often need concrete proof that what you’re proposing has value before they’ll commit their full support and resources to an initiative.

A successful PoC provides them with the tangible evidence they need that a concept is worth investing in, making it easier to get the go-ahead from executives, investors, and other key stakeholders.

Feedback loop creation

PoCs help to establish a very useful feedback loop between you, your team, and your end users. This interaction enables you to enhance your product according to what your users want and need, and encourages a more user-centric approach to development.

Engaging with your users during the PoC stage can also give you a more thorough understanding of your product-market fit, and build a sense of ownership and loyalty among your customers, setting the stage for a successful launch.

Validation of assumptions

Every new product is built on a potentially flimsy foundation of assumptions about user behavior, technical feasibility, and market demand. PoCs are where your assumptions collide head-first with reality – they’ll either be validated or demolished.

This validation is vital – it guides your ongoing development efforts and can shape the strategic direction of the entire product.

Using a proof of concept safeguards your product from unforeseen challenges and failures, enhancing its likelihood of success through informed decision-making and precise strategic alignment. 

How do you create a proof of concept?

Developing a proof of concept is a structured process that involves several important steps. Each stage in the journey is designed to ensure that your PoC effectively tests your hypotheses and turns up some valuable intelligence.

How to create a proof of concept

Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a proof of concept:

Step 1: Identify your core hypothesis

Begin by clearly defining the hypothesis or set of hypotheses you want to test. It could be a new product feature, a unique tech application, or a clever new market strategy. Ensure that your hypothesis is specific and measurable.

Step 2: Define success criteria

Establish what success looks like for your PoC. These criteria will help you measure the outcome objectively. Success criteria could be technical performance, user engagement metrics, cost-efficiency, or other relevant metrics.

Step 3: Plan the scope

Focus your PoC on only the essential features that will validate your hypothesis. Avoid being tempted to expand the scope beyond what you need to do to prove the concept.

Step 4: Assemble your team

Select a cross-functional team that includes people with all the necessary skills and expertise you need to execute the PoC effectively. This team will likely include Developers, Designers, Analysts, and more if you have them.

Step 5: Build the prototype

Develop a prototype or a minimal viable product (MVP) that embodies the core features necessary to test the hypothesis. Use Agile development practices to iteratively build and refine the prototype.

Step 6: Test the prototype

Test the prototype in a controlled environment to ensure it works as expected. This testing can be technical, focusing on functionality and performance, and/or user-based, focusing on usability and engagement.

Step 7: Collect data and feedback

Gather data and feedback from the testing phase. This information is crucial for evaluating the PoC against the defined success criteria. Use both quantitative data and qualitative feedback to get a comprehensive view of the PoC’s performance.

Step 8: Analyze and evaluate

Analyze the collected data and assess whether the PoC met the success criteria. This evaluation will inform whether to proceed with further development, pivot the concept, or scrap it entirely.

Step 9: Document and present findings

Document the outcomes of the PoC, including successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Present these findings to your stakeholders to inform what comes next and support decision-making.

Step 10: Decide on next steps

Based on the outcomes and stakeholder feedback, decide on the next steps. This might involve scaling the concept, making iterative improvements for another PoC, or integrating successful features into your other existing products.

What are common challenges with making a proof of concept and how can you overcome them?

Creating a proof of concept isn’t quite as simple as drawing something on a napkin and waving it around shouting “See?!”. You’ll probably have to deal with a range of challenges that can impact how useful and efficient it is.

Here are some of the most common challenges in creating a proof of concept and practical solutions:

Limited resources

You’ll often need to make your proof of concept with limited resources in terms of budget, time, and personnel. This can hinder your ability to thoroughly test and develop the concept.

Solution: Prioritize the core objectives and functionalities that you need to validate. Use lean methodologies to focus resources on testing critical assumptions rather than developing extensive features. Tools and technologies that enable rapid prototyping can maximize the efficiency of the process.

Unrealistic expectations

Your stakeholders may have high expectations for the outcomes of a PoC, mistaking it for a nearly finished product rather than a feasibility test

Solution: Clearly communicate to all stakeholders the purpose, scope, and limitations of the PoC from the outset. Establish realistic goals and deliverables for the PoC phase, ensuring that everyone understands it is primarily for learning and validation, and that you’re not trying to deliver the final product yet.

Scope creep

The scope of the PoC can easily expand as new ideas and features are proposed, which can dilute its focus and make it unnecessarily complex

Solution: Strictly define the scope at the beginning of the process and stick to it. If additional features or ideas are proposed, evaluate whether they align with the core objectives of the PoC. Save non-essential features for subsequent iterations or future development phases.

Integration issues

A PoC might prove successful in a controlled environment but can still fail when you try to integrate it into a larger system or existing infrastructure.

Solution: Plan for integration from the start. Ensure that your PoC design considers existing architectures and systems. Conduct integration tests as part of the PoC to identify potential issues early.

Insufficient data or feedback

A successful PoC lives on adequate feedback and data to assess its viability and performance. Insufficient data can lead to inconclusive or misleading results.

Solution: Establish clear metrics and data collection strategies before starting. Engage with potential users and stakeholders during the testing phase to gather comprehensive feedback.

Consider using something like ProdPad’s Customer Feedback Portal, providing a quick and easy feedback widget so users can fire in their thoughts which routes directly into your feedback inbox. You can also use analytics tools to accurately measure engagement and effectiveness.

Technical limitations

The technologies or tools chosen for the PoC may not fully support the concept or be able to scale to full production needs.

Solution: Select technologies that are scalable and have a proven track record. Consider future needs and ensure the technology stack can handle growth and complexity. Pilot with technologies that are already familiar to the team, when possible, to reduce learning curves.

When would you need a proof of concept?

Making a good proof of concept can play a large role in maximizing the success of any new product or development initiative, but how do you know when the time is right for one?

Here are some key scenarios where putting out a proof of concept can be useful:

  • Early-stage validation: During initial development phases, a PoC helps assess the feasibility of novel technologies or untested concepts. This allows for early identification of potential roadblocks, enabling course correction before significant resource allocation.
  • Scaling with certainty: A PoC can serve as a pilot test prior to scaling your product or introducing complex new features. It ensures these enhancements integrate seamlessly and perform as expected within the existing ecosystem, minimizing the risk of unforeseen challenges later in development.
  • Seamless integration: When your product’s functionality relies on interaction with external systems, a PoC can be very useful. By creating a scaled-down version, you can proactively identify and address any complications, ensuring a smoother and more successful connection between all components.
  • Market validation: In uncertain or volatile markets, a PoC helps you gauge user reception to your concept. This feedback loop confirms if there’s genuine market demand and avoids potential product misalignment.
  • Competitive advantage: Rapidly validating your concept with a well-executed PoC can help you to move into production quicker, potentially granting you a crucial edge over any competitors who are still in the planning stages.
  • Securing stakeholder buy-in: Securing funding and support hinges on getting stakeholder buy-in. A successful PoC is tangible evidence of your concept’s merit and market potential. Providing stakeholders with data-driven insights into progress can help you secure the resources needed to bring your product to life.
  • Strategic decision-making: When faced with strategic crossroads, a PoC can shine a light on the best path forward. By creating scaled-down versions of potential development paths, you can gather the data you need to make informed decisions and find the option with the highest chance of success.
  • Cost-benefit justification: For high-cost development initiatives, a PoC allows for a preliminary cost-benefit analysis. This ensures the potential return on investment justifies the resources required to bring your product to market. Early identification of potential roadblocks prevents allocating resources to financial dead-ends.

By strategically integrating PoCs throughout your development process, you’ll gain valuable insights that will inform your decision-making, and help to propel your product forward in the most effective way possible.

How do you measure the success of a proof of concept?

There’s no point in experimenting if you’re not measuring your results. What you learn will determine whether you should proceed with further development, refine your concept, or scrap the product or feature altogether.

Establish your success criteria at the outset, and align them closely with both your specific goals for the PoC and the broader product objectives.

Here are some key metrics and methods to effectively gauge the success of a proof of concept:

  • Technical feasibility: This is all about functionality. Did your PoC meet predefined performance benchmarks like processing speed, load capacity, and error rates? Run the PoC through all planned test cases to ensure it functions flawlessly in various scenarios.
  • User engagement & feedback: Here, user experience takes center stage. Track quantitative metrics like user retention rate, how long users stay engaged, how often they interact with the PoC, and whether they complete core workflows. Complement this with qualitative data. Conduct surveys and interviews to understand user satisfaction, perceived usefulness, and overall usability of your concept.
  • Market viability: Can you translate user interest into real market demand? Monitor initial user adoption rates as you introduce the PoC. Seek feedback from industry experts to gauge your concept’s market fit. Consider controlled release strategies to gather user data in a targeted way. Ultimately, aim to validate demand through pre-orders, sign-ups for future releases, or expressions of interest from potential customers.
  • Cost analysis: Keep a close eye on the financial side. Did your PoC development stay within the allocated budget? Track your spending against the initial budget to assess cost-effectiveness. More importantly, use the PoC’s results and potential market size to project your return on investment (ROI). This will help determine if full-scale development is financially sound.
  • Scalability & integration: Think big picture. Can your concept handle future growth? Evaluate the PoC’s scalability in terms of production volume, user load, and potential geographic expansion. If your product relies on existing systems, assess integration readiness. Ensure compatibility with your current technology stacks and workflows to avoid future roadblocks.
  • Stakeholder buy-in: Secure the support you need to move forward. Gauge stakeholder satisfaction with the PoC’s outcome. Did it meet or exceed their expectations? Most importantly, assess their willingness to continue supporting the initiative beyond the PoC phase. Their continued backing is a strong indicator of perceived success.

By keeping a close eye on these metrics, you’ll gain a fuller understanding of how effective your PoC has been. Remember, a PoC’s purpose isn’t just to secure the green light for development; it’s should be a springboard for better strategic product decisions based on real-world data.

Who is responsible for creating a proof of concept?

While a proof of concept might seem like a preliminary step, it’s actually a launchpad for successful product development. Building the right PoC team is central to ensuring a smooth liftoff.

Here’s a breakdown of the key players and their contributions:

  • Product Manager: You set the vision and ensure all elements align with the overall product strategy. You’re the glue that holds the team together, coordinating efforts, managing timelines, and keeping stakeholders informed throughout the process.
  • Development Team: The Devs translate the PM’s vision into a tangible prototype, focusing on the technical execution and tackling any challenges that arise to ensure the core functionalities function flawlessly.
  • Designers (UX/UI): Designers need to craft an intuitive and user-friendly interface for the PoC, incorporating user feedback throughout the process to refine the design and ensure it resonates with target users.
  • Business Analysts: Analyze the data collected during user interactions, providing key insights into the PoC’s success and potential for scalability. Additionally, they might perform cost-benefit analyses to assess the financial viability of transforming the PoC into a full-fledged product.
  • Additional roles: Depending on the complexity of the PoC, the team might expand to include:
    • Marketing Team: They can offer valuable insights into market trends and user demographics, influencing the design and functionality of the PoC. They might also play a role in recruiting participants for user testing.
    • External Consultants or Technical Experts: For PoCs involving cutting-edge technology or highly specialized areas, bringing in external consultants or technical experts can provide you with additional expertise and ensure the technical aspects are implemented according to best practices.

By assembling a team with these diverse skill sets and fostering open communication, you’ll create a collaborative environment where each member contributes their unique strengths. This ensures a well-rounded PoC that effectively paves the way for future product triumphs.

Real-world examples of Proof of Concepts

Ever wondered how Facebook perfected its personalized news feed, or how Amazon revolutionized shopping with cashier-less stores? The answer lies in the power of experimentation through proof of concepts.

By diving into real-world examples from industry leaders like Facebook, Amazon, and more, we’ll explore how PoCs have been used to not just validate concepts but to refine user experience, optimize resource allocation, and ultimately pave the way for industry-defining products and features.

Here’s a glimpse into how leading software companies have leveraged PoCs:


Social media platforms like Facebook rely on PoCs to refine their algorithms. For instance, Facebook’s PoC for a personalized news feed allowed them to gauge user engagement with content tailored to individual preferences.

The success of this PoC led to a broader rollout and continuous algorithm development, ultimately enhancing user experience.


E-commerce giant Amazon utilized a PoC to test the feasibility of their Amazon Go stores, a concept that eliminates traditional checkout lines by leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence.

This PoC both validated the technical feasibility and demonstrated scalability, laying the foundation for a network of Amazon Go locations and potentially transforming the future of retail experiences.


Communication platforms like Slack understand the importance of fostering seamless collaboration. Their PoC for “shared channels” aimed to test the security and user experience of allowing different organizations to work together within a single workspace.

Following successful validation through the PoC, shared channels became a cornerstone feature, significantly boosting Slack’s collaborative capabilities.


The gaming industry thrives on innovation. Valve, the company behind the popular Steam platform, employed a PoC for Steam Remote Play, a feature that enables users to stream games from their libraries to other devices.

This PoC provided valuable insights into the technical challenges and user experience, allowing Valve to refine the service before launch. Today, Steam Remote Play is a popular feature, extending the reach of PC gaming experiences.

Google Maps

Mobile applications like Google Maps prioritize user experience even in areas with limited internet connectivity. Their PoC for offline navigation tested various data compression and storage techniques to ensure seamless map access without an internet connection.

The successful implementation of this feature through a PoC significantly improved the app’s utility in geographically diverse regions.

By letting companies test and refine their concepts in a controlled environment, PoCs mitigate risks and optimize your resource allocation efforts. In today’s competitive landscape, PoCs are an essential tool for ensuring that innovation translates into market success.

How can ProdPad help with your proof of concept?

Creating a workable proof of concept, from the initial brainstorming to strategic decision-making and actually building it, is a complex endeavor. The right tools can make all of the difference.

ProdPad is like a Swiss Army knife for Product Managers, perfect for helping you put together your PoC. It provides a comprehensive set of tools that’ll boost collaboration, streamline your planning, and help you to make smarter, data-driven decisions.

Here’s how you can use ProdPad to maximize the success of your PoC:

  • Idea backlog management: Think of ProdPad as your idea curator. It helps you organize and prioritize potential PoC ideas, ensuring you’re always working on the most impactful concepts. With its dynamic idea backlog, you can effortlessly assess and select ideas that align with your strategic goals.
  • Roadmapping: Visualizing your PoC’s journey is crucial, and ProdPad’s flexible roadmapping tools make this easy. Set time horizons and link to your objectives to keep everyone on the same page and moving forward together.
  • Team collaboration: ProdPad acts as your team’s collaboration hub, centralizing updates, feedback, and progress tracking. This keeps all team members aligned and informed, fostering a cohesive working environment.
  • Integration with development tools: Seamless integration with tools like JIRA, Trello, and Azure DevOps ensures that the insights and tasks flow effortlessly from planning to execution. This connectivity maintains continuity and drives efficiency, so you’re always in sync with your team’s activities.
  • Customer feedback portal: Directly engage with your users through ProdPad’s customizable feedback portal. It’s an excellent tool for collecting real-time insights as you test your PoC, allowing you to quickly adapt and respond to user needs.
  • Feedback clustering: ProdPad’s AI co-pilot clusters your user feedback into themes, making it easier to identify common issues or suggestions. This gives you a leg up on prioritizing and focusing on the areas that will have the most significant impact.
  • Task automation: ProdPad can automate routine tasks associated with your PoC, saving you valuable time and reducing the likelihood of human error. It gives you the space to focus on more strategic activities, and puts the “flow” back into your workflow.

ProdPad doesn’t just support the logistical aspects of your proof of concept – you’ll be able to make smarter decisions based on data and customer feedback, making it an indispensable part of your Product Management toolkit.

Find out more about how ProdPad can help your planning and decision-making