Nov 22, 2022

4 Tips for Running a Successful Proof of Concept

Mark Fershteyn
CEO & Co-founder

Imagine a well-executed Proof of Concept where every milestone is met on schedule, documents are in order, criteria for success is easily measured, and you have pre-approval for buy-in if criteria is met. 

A proof of concept is a fantastic opportunity to get your tech in the hands of your customer… but with so many moving parts and a high-stakes deal on the line… running one can be a bit of a nightmare. With a client-facing project management solution like Recapped, it doesn’t need to be. Centralize your proof of concept in a single location so you can effectively manage it instead of it managing you.

What is a proof of concept?

A proof of concept, or PoC, is essentially an experiment you’ll run to prove the feasibility of your feature or product. It’s how you’ll prove that your solution works – and to minimize their risk, most buyers want to see that proof before they buy. Is your solution on par with expectations? Is it solving the actual problem at hand?

How you run your PoC can be the difference between bringing a deal home to the finish line or stalling it indefinitely in indecision-land. Not to mention, it requires time and resources from your team – so you want to do it right. Ran well, a PoC will inspire confidence (instead of headaches and confusion) in your buyers.

Please visit our Recapped Template Library for more information on our Proof of Concept template made by the Recapped team.

1. Set clear timelines and milestones

Before you get started, clear timelines and milestones should be established. Make the scope of the proof of concept clear, agree on a deadline, and document it. Get specific on what will be included – stick to the essentials and keep a focus on user experience.

The key to managing a hiccup-free PoC (the kind that makes going through with the sale a no-brainer)? Centralize the information required to run it. Collect all important information in a single place and make it accessible to your sales team as well as the buyers and stakeholders. 

Include a clear timeline along with a visible checklist of things to be completed to help keep both sides on track with their commitments. It’ll help to eliminate any confusion on either end about what comes next, or on how to move forward in a way where both parties will find success.

2. Get leadership buy-in

Even if your proof of concept goes off without a hitch, it won’t matter if you don’t have leadership buy-in. Do the work to understand the mindset of the stakeholders and what it is they really want. How can you demonstrate to them that you can help them reach an objective they care about, and soon?

Frame it from their viewpoint. What do they need to hear to prove this is a relevant and useful solution for their problem?

Stakeholders should be looped in on a mutual action plan. Milestones and key events should be jointly identified – deliverables, which business objectives are being supported, what will be measured – everything should be mutually decided upon so expectations are clear before starting. It’s in everyone’s best interests to get buy-in ahead of dedicating your time and resources to the PoC.

3. Declare definitive success criteria

To run a successful proof of concept, you must first determine what success will look like. And to do that, you must understand the problem you’re trying to solve (and know how to talk about that problem from your buyer’s point of view). Define your success criteria and how it will be measured.

Document the criteria you land on and include it with the rest of the documents, timelines, and checklists you’ve collected and created so everyone involved in the deal has access. Criteria should be definitive – don’t leave room for “Well, it kind of worked.” There are only two possible results of running a PoC: 

  • Yes, the solution is feasible
  • No, the solution is not feasible

Vagueness leaves room for confusion and that’s how you wind up in indecision-land. Not helpful.

Current performance baselines should be documented so you have something to compare with post-deadline. This also gives the benefit of having two options to compare in your quest to reach your defined goal: with your solution, and without your solution. Should your proof of concept not meet the success criteria, you’ll still be able to determine if your solution was better than not using it at all and whether it can be tweaked to be proven feasible in the future.

4. Get commitment for moving forward upon success

Running a proof of concept takes significant resources – time and energy that could be spent closing alternative prospects – so requesting commitment for buy approval upon success is not an unreasonable ask.

Make a clear outline of what next steps are if success criteria is met and include it in a proposal for how to move forward. Ask stakeholders to sign off on it, and include it with the rest of your documentation. 

To Recap

Using these tips will speed up your entire process – everyone is looped in on important dates, roles are clearly defined, and next steps are clear. Customer wants and requirements have been documented and approved from the beginning, and all this information is in an accessible living document that’s already gotten the go-ahead from stakeholders. And because criteria for success was clearly defined, whether to move forward upon completion – and how to do so – will be obvious.

Recapped makes it easy to centralize all this information and make it client-facing so everyone has access to the information they need to stay on track. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to chase deadlines, dig through chains of emails and spreadsheets for requirements and documentation, or fight for last-minute buy approval?

Now you can take control, streamline your most complex tasks, and stop losing high-stakes proof of concepts to less than stellar project management. Schedule a consultation today!