MVP is not the new PoC

The tech industry loves fancy jargon. And with start-ups trending like never before, one of the more popular buzzwords these days is MVP, which stands for Minimal Viable Product. A lot of people however (especially in the start-up industry) are often confused as to the difference between an MVP and a POC – which stands for Proof of Concept, since they both seem to mean the same thing. That’s not true though. In this post I’m going to explain the differences between these two concepts and show you exactly how different they are.

Proof of Concept (PoC)

According to techopedia, a POC or Proof Of Concept is basically a prototype that is designed to determine an idea’s feasibility and does not represent the actual deliverables. According to Wikipedia, a proof of concept is usually small and may or may not be complete.

An MVP or Minimal Viable Product on the other hand is something entirely different. To explain how it’s different, lets first break the term down into what we may call a Minimal Product and a Viable Product:

Minimal Product

A minimal product is one that contains the bare necessities or meets the minimum criteria that is required for it to be called a Product. As such, it may serve little purpose with regards to consumer usability. As Vince Baskerville puts it, “it may be a crappy product nobody wants to use.”

Viable Product

A viable product on the other hand is feasible enough to be created under given constraints. Constraints like skills, manpower, budget and time.

When we combine these two we get an MVP. But what exactly is an MVP?

Minimal Viable Product

An MVP is essentially a product that contains the minimum set of features that makes it feasible to be marketed and sold to its intended audience, given the manufacturer’s constraints (or product-market fit).

So What’s the Problem?

The problem is that a lot of folks in the startup industry tend to deviate more towards either the Minimal or the Viable aspect of the product. They either keep on building their idea, thinking that it still needs another cool feature to be viable for the market, or they release it so soon that it’s barely got enough features/functionality to be of any use to consumers. Having worked with a lot of start-ups, we’ve seen such cases first hand.

The Solution

So how do you avoid situations like that? Well, if you’re a start-up working on your own product idea, there’s simple checklist for Minimum Viable Products (or any software product for that matter) that you should follow, in order to avoid scope creep or releasing a product in the market that’s not viable. This checklist is as follows:

  • Are the objectives and feature requirements clear?
  • Has the application been tested for desired functionality?
  • Are user interaction flows well-defined?
  • Is the technical team well-versed with the technology stack?
  • If it’s a consumer application, has it been tested for scalability?
  • What about security and privacy?
  • Any laws or standards that the product must comply with?

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Uzair Ishaq

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