Project Management: Proof of Concept
When an organization begins a new program or updates an existing one, a Proof of Concept (POC project) is initiated. A Proof of Concept (POC) should be a Testbed Project at the start of large-scale efforts. A Testbed Project is a smaller part of the overall effort that allows the company to test it and see if it meets its objectives.
Consider, for instance, a new financial system that includes multiple software components for each area of business. A small POC team might be created by the company with representatives from Finance, HR, IT, and an executive sponsor. This team will be separate and dedicated to testing the software in order to determine if it is a good fit for company.
If a project is having problems, is not aligned with corporate goals or vision, or if the approach is not working, a Proof of Concept project may be created. A small group of the right people will be able to expose the most difficult areas in the project and allow for testing.
Continue reading: Project Proposal Template and Examples
Why implement a POC project?
Why should you implement Proof of Concept projects? POC efforts can be used in any industry or business. A Proof of Concept approach can be used by finance, marketing, HR, and sales teams.
Many companies make the mistake of trying too many large programs that impact multiple departments at once. It will save time, money, and aggravation to break down large programs into smaller POCs with a clear plan.
Before you start any strategic corporate initiative, answer these questions:
Is the project in line with our core business?
Is the program brand new?
What division is asking for the system’s support?
What is the expertise of an external vendor?
How to establish a valuable POC team
The team structure should be determined. The POC Team should not exceed 10 to 12 people. A good rule of thumb is between 10 and 12 people. Determine who should be involved and what, when and where they should be located.
Limit participation to key stakeholders. Only the business areas responsible for the effort should be allowed to contribute resources. Although other areas of the company may be interested, the success of a POC is dependent on the core team remaining focused on the effort. Why? The POC focuses on determining whether the project should also be adopted by other parts of an organization.
Always include an executive sponsor. Why include an executive sponsor. An executive sponsor is needed to communicate and clear the way for the POC group. The team should see, hear, and support the organization’s leadership, particularly in mission-critical rollouts.
Maintain the team’s independence. The POC Team must focus their efforts on the POC Project. The POC team will not succeed if they are involved in other projects or have competing responsibilities. Remember that a Proof of Concept Project should be an encapsulated effort. A POC should not become a long-term project. This is done to determine if the project can be sustained by the organization.
How to use the Proof of Concept Project’s Results
An organization can determine if a more difficult or laborious project will be scaled by understanding the importance of a POC Project. A solid POC Team is essential for success, especially when it concerns the executive sponsor. The most difficult part of a POC effort involves ensuring that the project meets corporate goals.
If the POC team decides that the program isn’t suitable, they can either consider a different approach or classify it as a sunk expense. Many organizations invest significant resources and fail to realize that it could be a bad idea. A Proof of Concept project can help you determine whether your efforts are successful or not early on, which ultimately saves time and money. Anyone responsible for corporate initiatives will find a Proof of Concept tool invaluable.
Next: Establishing a Meeting Cadence for Remote Project Tea