Work with one of us, work with all of us. Sharing our knowledge and experience with each other and our clients is a fundamental belief and practice for Headforwards and these resources are designed to provide insight, tools and ideas.

But will it work? The big question that looms over any innovation and one that is often particularly difficult to answer. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re innovating around a new product or process, controlled testing helps you learn, iterate and (hopefully) demonstrate that your idea is feasible. And if it’s not, you save yourself a bundle of wasted time and resources. 

Both Proof of Concept (PoC) and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are excellent approaches when you’re trying to answer that question. 

A project’s key business requirements could be satisfied initially by an MVP that demonstrates value early.  Similarly, if the relevant business processes are still evolving, delivery of an MVP could constitute a useful, simplified, and early solution.

A successful PoC may be the initial project goal before the decision is made to move forward with a larger scale endeavour, while an MVP is expanded on and improved, delivering more functionality, and satisfying ever more requirements, in subsequent iterations of an ongoing development project.

PoC and MVP at Headforwards

In a number of our successful projects, an PoC or MVP was key to delivering the right outcome. 

For example, in the financial services sector, Caspian One needed to prove, within a restricted timescale, API integration with the necessary products for a planned open banking solution. 

They came to Headforwards, who were able to deliver a PoC in .NET within 2 weeks, and in the industry-standard Java within the following two weeks. 

For the brief case study, see Caspian One: Developing a full pilot of an open banking solution.

In high street retail, John Lewis Partnership required an app, distinct from their website offering, through which their members can access wellbeing benefits.

Headforwards delivered an MVP that concentrated on the key requirements, using biometric login, and incorporating geolocation so members can see what is available in their area. Working with Headforwards, John Lewis can continue to build upon this MVP, adding functionality to an already successful and popular app.

For the brief case study, see: John Lewis Partnership: Developing a new app for leading high street brand.

Why partnering on PoCs make sense
In-house teams aren’t always that good at delivering proof of concepts, but the reason for that is wholly positive. Developers want to do a good job. They want to write good, clean code that works perfectly.
As an industry we have embraced this and actively encouraged it with our increased focus on a ‘You Build It, You Run It’ mentality and Agile practices that focus on teams being more responsive to changing requirements. Together these have heightened developers’ focus on architecturally decoupled, horizontally scalable systems, that are easy to modify, troubleshoot and operate in production.
The problem with this approach when it comes to testing innovative ideas with MVP and PoC, is that you’re just working out whether something is feasible. You’re not looking for longer term perfection, you’re just trying to establish if your idea is worth progressing. 

PoC and MVP can deliver serious value to your organisation. They can save a lot of time and resources by nipping things in the bud early if they’re not going to have the impact you need. And they can help you shape a product or process change with your users at the centre. It’s a low risk approach, and it gives you evidence to share with your stakeholders that either justifies your pitch for investment or demonstrates why you’re changing tack.

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