Which comes first? Proof of Concept (POC) or Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Which comes first? Proof of Concept (POC) or Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

In past couple of projects, several clients have asked me this question: What is the difference between POC & MVP? Which comes first? Most businesses are familiar with these terms but don’t know the exact meaning that’s why they often experience mistakes while building a Product. They rush into starting up a Development team to build a Product. Knowing what each term means is not good enough, you should know when to use them, is vitally important to the success of your next product launch.

First let’s understand their definitions

What is a Proof of Concept?

A proof of concept (POC) is a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application. POC is therefore a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but does not represent deliverables. Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle. [Source]

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users. [Source]

Proof of Concepts (POC) are great way to validate marketability on a small budget. Before you invest time, effort, and money on coding or manufacturing your great idea, you need to validate the assumption that people actually want your product. Discovering a problem that your idea will solve is easy, finding a solution people want is what you have to validate.

Proof of Concept (POC) Approach and Process Steps

There are 5 key activities associated with the Proof of Concept process as displayed below:

  1. Initiate the Proof of Concept – The first activity is to initiate the POC, which means getting everything ready for the POC to start. You will need to establish the team members that will be on the project—keeping in mind the processes that are impacted based on the scenarios identified for inclusion It will not just be IT and Finance, but also potentially, HR, Sales, Operations, Marketing, etc. Along with identifying the team members for the POC, you should consider their availability to assure that the POC is recognized as a priority task.
  2. Confirm Overall Requirements – The second activity is to confirm the overall requirements and expectations for the POC such as defining the outputs as specific contract scenarios identified in the Accounting Assessment. This will also include identifying the business processes that may potentially be impacted as well as an understanding of the key players and departments involved.
  3. Business Process Workshops – The third step is to conduct the business process workshops, which will cover the current revenue scenarios and how they need to change based on the information from the Accounting Assessment. In this activity, you need to clearly document the proposed process changes, configuration changes, development changes, and custom rules that are needed.
  4. Business Process Deployment – The fourth activity is actual deployment of changes identified in the business process workshop. Once the specifications are documented the focus shifts to implementation, testing, analysis, iteration, and documentation of the changes. You should plan for multiple cycles of testing to make sure that all scenarios behave correctly and the associated business processes and procedures are in place. The final output of this activity is to produce successful test results using the newly designed processes.
  5. Final Documentation – The fifth activity is to complete the analysis and final documentation. This is where you combine all of the test results, specifications, process changes, etc. into one final deliverable. You need to make sure that all of the business process workshop targets have been addressed and the specific outcomes documented.

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) helps entrepreneurs start the process of learning as quickly as possible. It is not necessarily the smallest product imaginable, though; it is simply the fastest way to start learning how to build a sustainable business with the minimum amount of effort. Most entrepreneurs try to please the customers and try to give every thing but research shows that 64% of the features are rarely used or never used by users. To overcome of this issue we need to use a technique which will help visual our MVP. The method which I describe below is heavily inspired from Jeff Patton book User Story Mapping.


Once you have your features prioritized, now, the first row on your map, which Alistair Cockburn calls Walking Skeleton – this is the smallest possible representation of a working product. This is what business should build first.



In a nutshell, Proof of Concept validates two goals “People need that product” and “You have capability of building that product“. Minimum Viable Product validates that “people need the product and they will buy it”. Customers don’t see the POC’s. That kind of thing is done in-house. They do see the MVPs and that is what they are willing to buy. MVPs can be deployed into production but we cannot deploy POCs in production.

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