Common Mistakes to Avoid in Software Proof of Concept (PoC)

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Proof of Concept (PoC) plays an important role in testing the feasibility of technological concepts, innovation, approaches, and more in software development. If executed correctly, a PoC can become the backbone of a successful software development process, helping to navigate the risks and pitfalls. If neglected or done incorrectly, it can cause major setbacks down the line, costing time, money, or even the whole project altogether. 

What is PoC in Software Development?

Before we take a deep dive into the mistakes one must avoid while running a PoC, it’s important to get a general grasp of this process.

Proof of Concept is a preliminary vision of a product or a smaller part of its functionality, designed to prove the feasibility of the technology, check whether it is possible or worth it to implement and innovate, and uncover potential risks to deal with during the early stage.

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In short, Proof of Concept is a valuable tool that can help ensure several vital aspects of the software development process early on, including:

  • Feasibility of the concept or technical functionality
  • Market need based on user feedback
  • Gauging the required time and budget to build the software
  • Eliminating gaps in vision between stakeholders and development team

What Are the (Easily Avoidable) Mistakes in PoC?

As with any stage in the software development lifecycle, you have to evaluate its efficiency in the grander context of the software product. Such context often dictates the best approaches to a certain SDLC stage, including PoC. Likewise, ignoring these aspects can lead to mistakes of various magnitude that can affect your project immediately or much later when the cost of change is drastically higher. Let’s take a closer look at the latter:

Unclear Goals & Targets

Clarity in set objectives is the first major factor in whether the PoC can succeed or fail. Vague objectives will almost definitely disperse the focus, hinder teamwork and developer-stakeholder collaboration, and can trigger many of the mistakes that follow next in this list.

How to fix:

Set clear objectives and make sure to communicate those to everyone involved. It is much more effective to go for a smaller-scale PoC with a clearly defined goal rather than a large project with the aim to “achieve it all.” Often, these simple objectives might look like this:

  • Let’s see if adding this functionality will help us generate more traction with our customer base.
  • Let’s test whether it would be feasible to integrate WebRTC-based functionality into the software
  • Let’s explore Azure and AWS and see which one is more viable for this specific product we’re planning.


PoC is the preliminary testing process. It’s about the viability of the technology and the concept itself. Complicated technology can slow down the process, add to confusion, and increase the development time later. Simplicity and speed are key, and it is important just to test the core part of the technology, gain the required insights that align with the objectives, and call it a day, moving on to software prototyping or developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

How to fix:

Keep it simple and straightforward. You can add layers of complexity later, when exploring the specifics of the UI/UX approach or building an MVP. Also, make sure you focus on vital, untested aspects of the product. If it’s been done before by someone else – why bother re-testing and doing the same work someone else did for you?

Rushing the PoC Process

Software development has a golden rule – you can’t get something that’s Good, Fast & Cheap simultaneously. Going fast through each step of SDLC, including Proof of Concept, will ultimately require you to either sacrifice the quality of the results or inflate the price of running it.

How to fix:

Follow your objectives and stick to the simplistic approach of the PoC. Take the time needed to get the results, analyze them, and make changes if necessary. Better data quality will substantially decrease risks during the software development stage, saving much more time and money than rushing the Proof of Concept.

Ignoring Business Context

It is always exciting to find out that a new feature or an innovative technology is, in fact, feasible and can be implemented with relative ease. This, however, might still fail in the long run because your PoC must also take into account the business need and readiness. Exploring the business angle must always be a high priority because even the greatest products on paper can’t simply meet the demand or require too much from the business.

How to fix:

Make sure that the company is ready to benefit from the tested concept and technology. Check whether the business can integrate the new solution easily if it’s an added functionality, explore whether the target audience is ready to accept the innovation, and see how well (and if at all) you can scale it in the future. These cases might also warrant a PoC, so it’s important to be mindful of the specific conditions and circumstances the business is currently in.

Does this apply to Proof of Technology?

Short answer – yes. Proof of Technology is more inclined towards testing the viability of the technological solution, aiming to validate the suitability of specific technologies.

The same principles of clear goals, business suitability, and taking adequate time apply to PoTs. Whether you’re testing new technology, expanding the existing infrastructure, comparing similar cloud services, or anything of the like, each of these mistakes can occur if you’re not careful.

The Takeaway:

Software development is a complex process that can invite plenty of associated risks, one more alarming than the other. Proof of Concept is a valuable part of SDLC, therefore, it too has its pitfalls that must be addressed to ensure optimal efficiency and value to the project and business.

Each of the listed mistakes can hinder the development project severely, costing money and time. Avoiding these can help the business maximize the potential of the PoC and extract enough value to transfer it to the next stage.

If you need expert help running a PoC, drop us a message here, and we can guide you through the process using our expertise spanning hundreds of completed projects and solved business challenges.