What is a technical proof-of-concept?
When developing an app, a technical proof-of-concept refers to an activity that explores the technical feasibility of your app idea. By essentially bringing some of the app development activities forward, it provides an opportunity for clients to de-risk their project.
At Wave Digital, we typically use proof-of-concepts to explore two areas:
- how can this be done? Here the goal of a proof-of-concept is to identify the technical opportunities and constraints that may impact on the design and development of the app
- can it be done? In this instance, we explore if the app can be built in the way the client wants – in other words determining if the app is possible and/or feasible.
When do you recommend a technical proof-of-concept?
There are a range of scenarios where a technical proof-of-concept can significantly de-risk you app project. Below are a few examples:
The Newtracs 4wd Track Conditions Mobile App is an app that improves the 4wd experience for Victorians by allowing users to access crowd-sourced up-to-date information on off-road tracks, recommended routes and natural bush campsites while on the road. When exploring the initial product concept and features, one of the core technologies identified was the mapping platform. Given this feature was critical to the user experience, it was important to select a platform that met requirements – technically and commercially.
During the technical proof-of-concept, our developers reviewed a range of different mapping platforms. These included leading mapping technologies in both the open source and commercial markets. Our developers downloaded and used the platforms to understand the capability to analyse and present the data in the way that was required. This analysis helped the founder make a decision around which platform to implement. It also highlighted the need to balance the features available with the cost to implement or licence, if a commercial solution.
The Diabeasy iPhone App by health Startup Diabeasy, aims to deliver a secure and efficient platform for patients and clinicians to communicate and connect. The Wave Digital team worked with the founder to refine the strategy for the app. This process highlighted a range of features for an initial MVP including the potential for a chat or messaging solution.
A technical proof-of-concept approach was used to evaluate two options – whether to build a custom solution or to use one of the out of the box platforms. Our app developers explored several platforms, including downloading and using the code to confirm the capability of what was available in the market. The founder was then able to weigh up options based on research – a custom platform which would provide more value in the long term (owned IP, tailored features and experience) versus an out of box offering that would be lower in cost but with more limited features.
South East Water
The South East Water One Asset project was looking to build a modern dashboard style interface bringing together data from multiple systems. One of these was a very large and dated enterprise system called SCADA. The system was proprietary ie. unique to South East Water. Wave Digital recommended a technical proof-of-concept to confirm that a deep integration with the system was feasible and to identify the parameters for a successful integration prior to development occurring.
Wave’s app developers coordinated with the South East Water IT team to expose the relevant parts of the SCADA database so that we could understand the form the data would take. A key success criteria for the new dashboard was near real time performance display, which meant the team needed to ensure the data would be available in a form that was appropriate. The result of this proof-of-concept was the specification of an API to integrate the systems prior to any development occurring.
What is the process?
A technical proof-of-concept occurs prior to the app build occurring.
If it relates to deciding how a feature or function will be delivered technically, then the technical proof-of-concept can occur in parallel to the ux design process. This is important because it means the designs can take into account any technical constraints.
If it relates to feasibility, then a technical proof-of-concept can be completed as part of the app strategy. Our team do not require detailed app requirements, wireframes or visual designs before exploring the question.
How long a technical proof-of-concept will take depends on the complexity of the technology being investigated and the goals for the activity. For example, it may take our app developers anywhere from a couple of days to two plus weeks to complete.