When a brilliant project idea comes to your mind, you still never know if it pops and becomes popular among users. You may conduct all necessary research, do all required preparatory work, but only some time after launch it will become clear if your product fits the market and brings real use to the customers. Obviously, nobody wants to spend untold efforts and huge amounts of money for a pig in the poke since project perspectives are quite unclear. That is why before creating the comprehensive full-featured product, it is much more preferable to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Proof of Concept (POC) or a prototype to validate the idea and acquire understanding if it is worth investing in its further development. In the article we will dive into specifics of these three methodologies and try to figure out which one to choose depending on the situation. So here we go.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

MVP is the first version of the product which possesses only core functionality to reach the business goal. In other words, it has only basic functions without any desired features and eye-catching design. It significantly alleviates the initial development steps and allows to spend less time and effort.

The best thing about an MVP is that its creation gives you a chance to test your application and evaluate the customers’ first feedback to have a better understanding where to move further: which features to finalize, which to remove at all. Basically, the Minimum Viable Product is a kind of a springboard you can start from and proceed with development of a full-featured attractively designed custom web application if the feedback is positive and you find the perspectives promising. Below is the quick overview of the main benefits of MVP creation:

  • Quick Launch
    If your product is doomed to failure, there is no doubt that you prefer to know about it as soon as possible. If you choose the path of full-featured custom product development, this understanding will come to you only after the comprehensive system is launched. With the nuance that the development process may take a significant period of time. If you are ready for that — you can make do without an MVP which requires much less time and money due to the basic array of features it possesses.
  • Draw the Investments
    If you create an MVP and gain the positive feedback from the users, you may safely present your product to the potential investors to gain the financial aid for full-featured product creation.
  • Narrow Focus
    Choosing MVP as a starting point will help your team not to spread themselves too thin and concentrate only on core features of your future product.

Proof of Concept (POC)

To gain a better understanding if the idea is feasible in general and worth investing in it. Unlike Minimum Viable Product, Proof of Concept is not just a simplified version of your product and does not possess any functionality at all. POC can be determined as a small project created for testing the important hypotheses before the actual development process. As a rule, it does not cover the whole system, but only the technical capabilities of the future system. If you have no assurance if your idea works, creation of POC will be of great help in checking if implementation of this or that function is even possible. Most frequently, Proof of Concept is not shown to the wide audience in contrast to the MVP, and used only within the company to determine the course of further development. That is why it is completely unnecessary to write an ideal code for such a purpose and create an eye-catching UI design. Let’s consider the main benefits of POC below:

  • Risk Minimization
    If you come to the conclusion that the idea you intended to implement is not feasible, you will not invest in it.
  • Open Doors for Development
    If the solution does not work, there is a possibility to implement it somewhere else in a different way.

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And last but not least — a prototype. It can be defined as a working model of multiple aspects (unlike the POC approach, where only one function is implemented). Most frequently prototyping is used for demonstration of a particular part of the system and detecting any malfunctions. Through the use of a prototype, a dedicated team that provides application software development services checks the product’s usability, design, and sometimes even its functionality — which can not be done in case of using the POC approach. In simple words, a prototype is a kind of the product draft, which still requires further development but meanwhile can be shown to the end-users that provide their feedback considering the result. It is important to highlight that the prototypes are commonly used for implementation of some novel ideas and can subsequently be transformed into the first version of the system — an MVP. Let’s go over main advantages of prototyping:

  • Certainty
    When you have a ready-made prototype of your future product, you may be completely sure that your system does what it was initially supposed to do.
  • Predictability
    You have a possibility to detect weak links in your system at early app development stages and gain insights on what may go wrong down the road.

Minimum Viable Product vs Proof of Concept vs Prototype — How to Choose?

The main thing that is vitally important to understand — is that these three approaches are not interchangeable and have absolutely different purposes. If you wish, you can use one of them or vice versa: apply all three approaches at different development stages.

For example, Proof of Concept is used during the idea validation process to gain a solid understanding if it is technically feasible in general. Unlike POC, a prototype is about feeling your product and getting a sense of how it functions before the actual development process. A Minimum Viable Product, in its turn, is a functional product (unlike both options listed above) and after launch you already have a possibility to monetize it as the first version of your system will be shown to the wide audience. It is also worth mentioning that both options, POC and a Prototype may be used as a basis for MVP development and can be transformed into the first version of your product.

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Each and every project starts with planning and analysis. To launch a successful product that will be in high demand among users, startups elaborate strategies, conduct brainstorming sessions — in other words, spend a lot of precious time to prevent possible mistakes. All the approaches: MVP, POC and a Prototype are useful if you take the path of your own custom product development. They are all different and have their particular goals but meanwhile, can be used together to achieve best possible results. If you currently have an idea which is waiting for its appropriate implementation, please contact us, we will gladly assist you with it!