Convincing people to support an idea or a project requires more than a healthy dose of optimism. Hard-nosed investors demand clear evidence that a startup and its business proposal can be viable and successful. It’s called a “proof of concept (PoC).”

A PoC is evidence that a business idea works. It’s usually a document that presents the feasibility of an idea, as well as verifiable test results of the concept, design, or plan in question.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about a Proof of Concept

In general, the goal of a PoC is to test whether or not an idea is viable. It does not focus on the marketability or production cost of a product or service, but it mainly tries to answer the question, “Is the idea achievable?”

How Important Is a Proof of Concept?

The definition of a PoC may make you think that it is a nonessential part of the product, service, or business development process. After all, you can turn an idea into reality right away with enough resources and support, right? Not really. Here are some reasons why a PoC is essential:

  • A PoC helps attract investors: Any investor would want evidence that his/her money would go to something that actually works. A summary of the project won’t cut it. Investors need a detailed and well-researched study that proves the idea will work. They need to know that the person behind the concept put a lot of thought, research, and consideration into the project. A PoC would show them that.
  • A PoC makes you foresee limitations: Part of creating a PoC is scaling or determining if the idea can accommodate the growth of an organization. Say, for instance, that you are envisioning a new cybersecurity system for your business. Included in the PoC is an analysis of the capacity of the new system. How much data can it handle? If you add more computers and users to the network, can it handle the additional volume?
  • A PoC allows you to prepare: If the new cybersecurity system we used in the example above is needed by your organization, a PoC will help you prepare for possible challenges. You can identify potential obstacles and, in the process, be ready for them.

Where Is a PoC Used?

What immediately comes to mind when thinking about PoCs are technological innovations. A medical facility, for instance, would want to test the viability and security of an electronic health record (EHR) software before completely migrating to it. A PoC is needed, so the EHR vendor usually allows the medical facility to use the software for a limited period.

Watch this short video to learn more about a PoC in software development.

But PoCs are also used in filmmaking. Pixar, for instance, created the PoC short film “Geri’s Game” using new and untested animation techniques. The facial expressions on the PoC film were then used in “Toy Story 2.” The same process was used to produce “Finding Nemo.”

What Is a Proof of Concept in Software Development?

A PoC in software development refers to a demonstration that shows that a system, an application, or a product can successfully work in real life. Its goal is to prove that the new technology is feasible from a technological perspective. It does not necessarily determine if there is a market demand for it, as it focuses on whether or not the idea can be turned into a product.

When talking about PoCs in the software development setting, you can imagine a group of developers showing off a prototype of a product. This scenario is not too far-fetched but keep in mind that a PoC also includes detailed documentation describing the processes, objectives, and specific roles that participants play during the development.

Startups usually present PoCs to investors to convince them that their products and business models can have healthy returns on investment (RoIs). Project managers also use PoCs to find loopholes in processes that could prevent the success of software development.

What Is a Proof of Concept in Product Development?

A PoC in product development is a small-scale demonstration of a product idea to validate its feasibility and potential. It is typically a prototype or working model of the product that is used to test its core features and functionality. The goal of a PoC is to answer the following questions:

  • Can the product be built?
  • Does the product work as intended?
  • Is the product solving a real problem?
  • Is there a market for the product?

What Is a Proof of Concept in Project Management?

A PoC in project management is a small-scale project that demonstrates the feasibility and viability of a larger project idea. It is a way to test the core assumptions of a project and identify any potential problem or risk early on. A PoC in project management answers the following questions:

  • Can the project be completed as planned?
  • Does the project meet the needs of the stakeholders?
  • Is the project feasible within the given budget and timeline?
  • Are the risks associated with the project manageable?

Steps to Write a Proof of Concept

These are the typical steps in writing a PoC.

  1. Identify the problem you are trying to solve.
  2. Identify your target market.
  3. Describe your solution in detail.
  4. Identify your solution’s key features and describe how they can benefit the target market. 
  5. Outline your plan for demonstrating the feasibility of your solution. 
  6. Set clear goals and success criteria for your PoC.
  7. Write a clear and concise PoC document. This document should outline all of the above information in a way that is easy for your target audience to understand.

Proof of Concept versus Prototype, What’s the Difference?

Once you come across a PoC, the term “prototype” would likely emerge because the two are often used interchangeably. However, these terms are not exactly alike. They have notable differences in terms of purpose and usability.


A PoC tests an idea. Its primary goal is to show the product’s functionality and verify if a specific concept is achievable while in development. It “proves” that particular assumptions are feasible and the result can be used in real life.

On the other hand, a prototype allows a developer to visualize the product and see how it functions. It gives an idea of how the result will work. As such, a prototype is more like an interactive working model.

In sum, a PoC proves that the product can be developed, whereas a prototype shows how it should be designed.


A PoC often takes the product’s usability for granted. Its only goal is to verify that such a product can be made. Any other consumer-facing attributes are not taken into consideration since doing so is time-consuming.

Prototypes, on the other hand, consider everything. They should work in the real world. Throughout the development process, a developer looks at all issues and addresses them. Unlike PoCs, prototypes may not be as artistically designed or durable.

Any business that wants to get ahead and way above their bottom line would wish all their ventures to be successful. And although a PoC is not foolproof and does not entirely guarantee success, it helps organizations decide whether or not an idea is worth pursuing.

Key Takeaways

  • A PoC serves as evidence that a business idea is viable and can provide RoI.
  • A PoC includes detailed documentation about the processes and people involved in its creation.
  • A PoC helps investors decide if a business is worth investing their money in.
  • In software development, a PoC helps demonstrate how a new system or application can work in real life.
  • A PoC is also used in other industries, such as filmmaking, when testing new animation techniques.
  • A PoC is different from a prototype. A PoC aims to prove that an idea works, while  a prototype shows how a product functions.
  • A PoC allows you to determine the limitations and challenges of a business idea so you can address them early.