The spark of inspiration for a new digital product is a thrilling moment. And no doubt you’ll want to bring your concept to life as quickly as possible. But not all ideas are born equal, and choosing the right development path for your product can significantly improve your chances of success.
Understanding the value and goals of different stages of product development can make it easier to set and manage expectations throughout your product’s journey from idea to market. At the same time, aligning on the use of terminology makes for clearer communication between the various stakeholders.
In this article, we’ll guide you through three key questions that will help you understand what you need to develop and when, and give you a clearer view of the objectives of a Proof of Concept (POC), Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and a full scope v1.0.
If the answer to this question is a resounding yes, then congratulations, you can move to question 2.
If on the other hand, your concept is based on new technology, requires hardware that doesn’t exist yet, or requires systems and platforms integrations that haven’t been done before, then the first step is to do a technical Proof of Concept (POC). The objective here is to validate assumptions and establish whether the concept is technically possible.
We do a minimal implementation of the technical setup to see if it can work. For example, when working with Belgian tech start-up Shavatar to bring their statistical model to the cloud to help online shoppers find the right clothing sizes, we first carried out a technical POC to check the technical feasibility; similar story with Telenet where we had to explore the technical feasibility of building an interactive fitness app on their set-top boxes.
What if the technical POC proves the concept won’t work? Well, it’s better to discover this earlier in the process rather than further down the line. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that all is lost. A ‘failed’ technical POC can also provide the opportunity to seek other solutions from the same starting point.
Just because an idea is technically possible doesn’t mean it’s going to be a commercial success. Maybe you’ve already tested your idea with friends and colleagues, or even approached potential investors. But are you sure there’s real demand?
If you’re not 100% convinced, then doing a business POC is a good way to gauge interest in the market as quickly as possible, with minimal investment. The objective here is to assess whether or not your product has business potential, and to avoid wasting resources developing a product no-one wants. This stage is particularly important if your concept doesn’t exist yet in the market, or if it needs to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace.
But how can you confidently find out if your target audience will be excited by your product? Surveys run the risk of misrepresenting enthusiasm for a new product or service – after all, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice and say you like an idea – so running a ‘fake door’ experiment is a great way to really test the waters.
A typical fake door involves building a landing page that describes your product or service as if it already exists, and where visitors can take an action that demonstrates interest, e.g. clicking a button to find out more about pricing. While you may end up having to admit to your visitors that your product is still in development, this can still be an opportunity to invite them to join a waiting list or email list.
Once you’re sure that your idea is technically viable and that there is real demand, it’s time to advance on the journey towards the market. So what’s next?
In many cases, developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) will be the recommended approach. This is especially true if your product is new in its category. An MVP is a working prototype that focuses on the functionality and benefits that make your product unique. Despite being a simplistic version, it still needs to solve a real problem for early customers. An example of this is the fitness app we developed together with Telenet, which brought a new entertainment concept to people’s living rooms via the set-top box they already had.
The objective of an MVP is to learn about the product and gain valuable customer feedback that can help steer its future evolution. At this stage, the goal is not to make a profit, but rather to determine the potential for profit. An MVP is not a guarantee of future success, but given the limited investment and risks, it’s an effective way to test the commercial viability of your concept.
But is an MVP always necessary? No, and sometimes it makes no sense at all! If there are already numerous competitors in the market with the same offering and business model as you, then launching a full scope v1.0 is absolutely crucial if you want to start capturing market share and start seeing a return on investment.
This was the case for Van Breda Risk and Benefits, where our self-service mobile app needed to offer powerful functionality from the get-go.
When bringing a concept to life, choosing the right development path can significantly improve your chances of wooing investors, optimising project costs, and ultimately building a successful product that delights users and meets its business objectives.
The three key questions above are a simple yet effective way to understand what you need to develop and when. And with a clearer view of the objectives of a technical POC, a business POC, an MVP and a full scope v1.0, you can better set and manage stakeholder expectations along your product’s journey.
Follow us on LinkedIn for insights, learnings, use cases and more.
Let’s get to know each other better and explore how we can help your business embark on a journey towards digitally enabled success.
Our Vanbreda Healthcare platform has been awarded a UX Design Awards nomination by International Design Center Berlin – the leading, independent design institution promoting design as a driver for business and social innovation.
November Five was named one of Fast Company’s global 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators in both 2020 and 2021. This annual list, developed in collaboration with Accenture, recognises and honors the top 100 businesses from different industries that inspire, support and promote innovation at all levels. For the consecutive year, November Five was the single Belgian workplace listed.
Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company and FastCompany.com inspire readers and users to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations and create the future of business.