September 5, 2023
POC vs Prototype vs MVP: What to Choose in 2023
Look at the roles of POC vs. Prototype vs. MVP and read about their advantages for an IT business. What kind of prototype is the best choice in 2023? Get a free consultation from our experts.
Reading time: 17 min.
POC vs. Prototype vs. MVP is a relevant subject in 2023. The main reason startups fail is scaling up too early due to poorly tested business concepts and hypotheses. A lack of testing and prototyping can cause potential issues and limitations at any project stage. The company will lose time and money in the long run — and nobody wants that.
Traditional options for early identification of vulnerabilities, such as POC, prototype, and MVP, have proven effective for businesses of all sizes. They help companies to reinforce concepts with real arguments based on statistics of user testing. Innovative idea validation leads to actual internal knowledge that can be a crucial step toward business success.
In this article, Factor Dedicated Team covers the meanings of POC, prototype, and MVP. We’ll explain the differences between these three and distinguish how their key features and benefits can help you and your team optimize 2023. Keep reading to choose the appropriate option for your business.
Elevate your product development with a proof of concept prototype
A proof of concept prototype (POC) is a concept created to test the feasibility of a particular idea or specific technology. It occurs at an early stage in the development process where developers create a small-scale version of a product or service. The main thing is to see if the business concept works as expected.
You cannot ignore the value proof of concept prototype delivers. Is your idea technically flexible? Is it worth investing in further development? Test key hypotheses with a POC. It will give you a sound understanding of the technical aspects and market research.
This screenshot shows what a POC looks like compared to the finished product.
How can a POC’s benefits drive success?
Let's highlight the main benefits that companies gain from implementing a proof of concept.
- Risk reduction. A proof of concept prototype helps to identify any potential problems or challenges that may arise during web development — the risk of investing significant resources into a project that may not be feasible or successful plummets. You will be better equipped to create a final product that answers questions or benefits your target audience.
- Cost and time effectiveness. Creating a POC is typically less expensive and time-consuming than developing a full-scale product or service. Usually, it takes no more than 2 weeks. Doing so allows businesses to save resources by minimizing development costs. Companies will find it cheaper and more reliable to test the feasibility of an idea on seed-stage funding.
- Decision-making. Companies that utilize POCs gather in-depth feedback to decide whether to proceed with the current project at hand. If the POC is successful, developers can move forward confidently, knowing that the idea is feasible and has potential value. In this way, the proof of concept provides the basis for selecting the best technology stack.
- Streamlined communication. A POC can help to facilitate communication between developers, stakeholders, and investors. It provides a tangible demonstration of the idea or technology, making it easier to explain and discuss.
- Enhanced creativity. The proof of concept prototype helps you better understand how your product works. It is an approach that encourages the team to be creative and innovative. Developers can explore new ideas and technologies without the pressure of creating a fully functional product or service.
Where are POCs used most effectively?
A proof of concept prototype has become necessary for validating key business concepts across all IT segments — software development, mobile app development, project management, and cybersecurity. A proof of concept performs well in every field. But a mobile app POC comes to the forefront. It is also easier to see how startups will work with small-scale versions of products. And it’s important to remember that a poorly tested business concept can lead to company failure.
From idea to reality: the impact of prototypes on bringing concepts to life
The prototype is the next stage after POC. It is an early model of a product, system, or application that showcases a primary user interface and a minimum feature set. In other words, it is the first glance of a product for the target users. You and your team gain insight on how the initial idea works, why the app is convenient, and what features should be added — just be sure to collect early feedback from the focus group.
There are four main types of prototypes models:
- rapid prototyping (simulates an application or product in the short term);
- evolutionary prototyping (creates a functional application);
- incremental prototyping (divides the final product into modules and creates a separate prototype for each module);
- extreme prototyping (brings the application to the service level, functions are coded and implemented).
This image shows what a prototype looks like.
Why should you embrace prototyping? 5 compelling reasons to consider
Here is the list of benefits it offers.
- Early identification of issues. A product prototype allows developers to identify and address potential issues in the early stages of the development. There is an opportunity to test the concept and identify design flaws in the UX, which can save time and technical resources in the long run.
- Improved communication. Prototyping can help improve communication between developers, stakeholders, and end-users. It provides a tangible model of the product that your team can utilize to discuss and refine requirements.
- User Feedback. You will receive positive or negative feedback immediately. Prototyping enables gathering user information early in the development process. It can help ensure that the final products meet the needs of its intended target audience and are as user-friendly as possible. The prototype will improve the quality of the product, integrate customer insights into the product, and ensure a more successful release.
- Cost-effectiveness. Product prototypes can be a cost-effective way to test and evaluate different ideas and core features before committing to a final version. It can help reduce the risk of developing a project that fails to meet user needs or market demand. Prototyping is also a great way to attract investors because it is designed to show an accurate project model.
- Faster development. Prototyping can speed up development by allowing coders to experiment with different ideas and features in less time. The product launch will then take place much more quickly.
What does a prototype include?
Prototypes can be presented in multiple ways. The most popular are 3D prints and virtual product models. They include mockups, wireframes, or working prototypes that simulate the intended core functionality of the final app for developers or investors.
Building smart: why an MVP approach is important for development
MVP (minimum viable product) is an early version of a product with a set of all the essential features for testing on the target audience. Compared to POCs and prototypes, MVP is the closest thing to the final version. It often acts as the first working version of your product. After launching the pilot version, an iterative improvement process begins.
The process of creating a minimum viable product includes the following steps:
- market research based on the collected requirements;
- definition of the most important features;
- developing the MVP project;
- launching the MVP, hypothesis testing;
- mapping of user interaction with the product;
- finalizing the MVP based on the user feedback.
This image shows what an MVP looks like.
How does an MVP give your product a competitive edge?
Benefits that companies get from developing an MVP.
- User analytics. An MVP offers practical ways to gain information about users and their web or mobile app behavior. You can use metrics. For example, estimate the number of user interactions with the product and determine the customer loyalty index. You will see the customer journey through the service and understand how to best lead them to the solution you offer.
- Faster time to market. By focusing on core features and releasing the product early, you can get to market faster. You can also use NoCode tools to create MVPs, which allow you to make edits in a few hours.
- Cost-effectiveness. Developing an MVP is typically less expensive than building a full-scale product. This feature allows you to test the market demand and validate the idea without investing too much money upfront.
- The iterative process of development. With an MVP, you can constantly iterate and improve the product based on practice because you can see what works and what doesn’t. Change the colors and layout of the buttons, improve usability, and remove unnecessary elements. Relying on an iterative process will lead to the most successful product possible.
When should you use an MVP?
MVP development is suitable for both startups and large businesses. For startups, it is vital to understand whether the audience needs the new project and whether it is worth investing in further product development. Large companies use MVPs for an existing product to test hypotheses and introduce new features. Among the minimum viable product formats are prototyping, email newsletters, and chatbots.
Prototype vs. MVP vs. POC: navigating the early stages of product development
The figure below describes the product development steps — POC, prototype, and MVP. They all perform well at different stages of the project process.
This graph shows POC, prototype, MVP as stages in product development, and how long it takes to develop each type of prototyping.
Prototype vs. POC vs. MVP: exploring the varied paths to product success
How do you pick the best prototyping approach for your project? You need to understand what tasks each methodology can accomplish. Based on the information in the table below, you can decide what kind of prototyping your product needs — POC, prototype, or MVP development.
|Proof of concept prototype|
confirms that the project will fit into market demand, identifies the customer;
ensures the idea is technically feasible;
finds the weaknesses in app development;
points out the risks and bugs.
identifies users' pain points;
presents the visual of the final product;
checks the basic functionality and design concept;
assesses the user experience in terms of navigating the product.
tests the viability of the product;
confirms or refute the assumptions the team has about the project;
assesses the usability of the product;
obtains validated data on user demand.
POC, prototype, and MVP are powerful tools to achieve business breakthroughs. They are something that IT professionals have been working on for decades.
If your idea is unique, you know what you need to test, and you want to make sure that the target audience is real — choose POC. You'll also quickly gain theoretical knowledge of whether developing an application is technically possible and save money, as it's the cost-saving solution. But it is a theoretical process without practice.
Suppose you want to draw conclusions based on practice and check the basic functionality and design concept. In that case, you should choose creating a prototype because it is about the final product visual concept with minimal features and accurate feedback from early users.
MVP is the most advanced option. You need to develop it early on and then start an iterative improvement process — launch a product pilot, get customer feedback, improve the product, relaunch it, and so on.
Do you need help in the process of implementing an idea? The Factor Dedicated Team will help you choose the appropriate prototype for your project and set up the process from the prototype development to the finished product smoothly.
Is a POC the same as a prototype?
No, POC and prototype are different and need to be separated. Proof of concept is a small-scale experiment demonstrating that a particular technology or approach can work. On the other hand, a prototype is a working model of a product or service to test and refine its design. A prototype is typically more advanced than a POC.
What is the difference between proof of concept, prototype, and MVP?
POC, prototype, and MVP are physical representations of a project at different stages of software development. The sequence is PoC, prototype, MVP.
The POC can determine if an idea is technically feasible and if it makes sense to take it on board. A prototype tests the design concept and functionality. An MVP validates a product idea and collects feedback from real users. Unlike POCs and prototypes, an MVP is a functional and ready-to-use version of a product.
What is proof of concept vs. prototype vs. pilot?
Proof of concept refers to a small-scale demonstration of a technology solution to show that it can work as intended and solve a specific problem or meet a particular need. The prototype is a functional product version used to test and refine its design and functionality. A pilot is a small-scale product launch in a specific environment or with one user group. It is about testing in real-world conditions to gather feedback from early adopters.
What is an MVP (minimum viable product) prototype?
An MVP is a prototype of a product that contains only the essential features needed to meet the demands of early adopters and gather feedback. For example, it could be a beta version of a company website. By way of leveraging user intelligence, you will be able to launch a better, more advanced product to market.
What does MVP mean in project planning?
The MVP plays a crucial role in project planning. It is a fully test-ready product version, which immediately shows which features you need to add. A minimum viable product is the basis on which it is easy to organize an iterative refinement process and bring the product to the ideal state.
How do you compare the solution demo MVP with a prototype?
The demo MVP shows all the essential features of the product. It is released to the market as soon as possible to test the demand for the product development and gather feedback to improve it. A prototype is a non-functional or semi-functional model that explores different ideas and tests the feasibility of the product.
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