What is Proof of Concept?
And why build one for a private blockchain project?
All digital products we love started from an idea. The adrenaline rush after the ideation process is real, sometimes you might even have the urge to jump right away into the software development process. But building a digital product from scratch is an arduous task. And as much as software engineers always need to test their code, similarly, a business idea needs to be tested before becoming a great software product.
Building useful digital products is a combination of being innovative and following tested software development methods. It requires a huge investment of time, money, and resources needed to succeed. To secure a good start, the first step is to verify the value of your future software solution.
In this post, I will not talk about innovative blockchain technologies, although they are present in the background. I will focus on the proven methods in software development projects that help us build great products. This time, let’s dissect a Proof of Concept (PoC) — a development phase that you can leverage at the very beginning of your product development journey.
What is Proof of Concept in software development?
To make sure you end up with the product you expect, let’s test the idea behind it first. Is the concept important? Yes, but ideas must be validated in real life. This is what a Proof of Concept aims to do. PoC projects also allow you to dig deeper and avoid potential obstacles when your software will be developed.
What is the PoC definition?
Proof of Concept is a method of validating assumptions with target users and checking if your idea is feasible technically. It involves developing a minimal working state of your final product.
It is especially useful in domains like blockchain or machine learning. Both of these areas are innovative and very costly. They often require project managers to go beyond exploring well-known wireframes or models. These projects are risky for stakeholders not only because they are based on the new high-end technologies, but also because there is usually an outside tech partner involved. And for each business, choosing an experienced tech partner at every development stage, including the Proof of Concept, is crucial.
During the Proof of Concept stage, private blockchain domain experts can work with you and navigate you through the process of finalizing the example idea, checking the needed requirements and adding the functionalities that may be incomplete.
During the Proof of Concept phase, you will answer questions like:
- Is your idea feasible?
- Is blockchain technology relevant for your needs?
- What technology stack should you use?
You will not answer these questions during the Proof of Concept phase:
- Is there a market demand for the idea?
- What do you need to build your product?
- What is the best production process for your project?
What should be included in Proof of Concept?
When starting a process for a Proof of Concept, you should bear in mind a few things that will facilitate the process of validating your initial idea in a given use case. These are:
- the type of information (data) included in the process — to identify blockchain advantages over ordinary security methods,
- process participants — to identify mutual credibility of contractors on an equal level.
The PoC can reveal any potential roadblocks and will give you the answer if private blockchain is worth your time and money.
Proof of Concept vs prototype
While the PoC offers you a model of just one product’s aspect, a prototype is a working interactive model of several aspects of the product. By building a prototype, you will also test the product’s usability and functionality.
A prototype may be completely different from the final product, but the prototype shows how your concept idea works. Prototypes aren’t ready to be released to the market. They are built so that potential clients or investors can test them and give you valuable feedback. You can learn from real-life testing and identify the assumptions needed to develop the idea further.
Proof of Concept vs Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
With an MVP, you will go a step further than when building a prototype. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product with just enough features to be delivered to the market right away. It’s thoroughly tested and free of bugs, has a feel of a production-ready product.
MVP aims to release as quickly as possible a product with the smallest number of features and some basic design so your target audience can provide feedback needed for future product development success. An undisputed benefit of creating an MVP is that you get feedback from a much larger audience, your early users.
Why do you need Proof of Concept in the blockchain development process?
According to Deloitte's annual survey, 77% of executives agree they will lose their competitive advantage if they don’t adopt blockchain. But instead of asking “Will it work for us?”, they ask: “How will it work for us?”.
Blockchain is among the most disruptive forces of the past decade and blockchain-based projects in the FinTech world are already well-known. The hype about blockchain is over. Businesses understand the need to be rigorous enough in defining the problems they are attempting to solve with it.
There are more areas where Distributed Ledger Technologies have or can have an impact. This is especially the case when building a private blockchain network to ensure transparency for groups of business partners that do not fully trust each other.
A good read for you: Private blockchain benefits explained
If you see value in enterprise blockchain in your organisation, starting with a Proof of Concept can really help you test the idea and validate blockchain business model potential success before starting a costly software development process.
It is usually a mistake to rush headlong into blockchain innovation without testing out single-use applications. Many enterprise companies are using Hyperledger Fabric as the backbone of their projects (see some use cases), but usually the first step is creating a blockchain Proof of Concept application for every new project. Blockchain technology is complex and each project shall strive to seek clarity and a well defined technical roadmap before the start.
A PoC proves the idea's viability. It helps you verify core elements of your potential blockchain project and ensure it goes into the right direction, without investing too much time and resources. Starting small with a Proof of Concept saves you time and money.
You can test the solution by building an interactive working model of your concept and mitigate business risks of your business proposal, before showing it to decision makers.
Developing a PoC is worth pursuing when you need to be crystal clear that your potential investors will like your finished product. The PoC process increases the value of the concept so the investor has a clear picture and is confident not to invest his funds in an unrealistic idea.
What’s more, a PoC allows you to reduce future costs as potential traps or technical problems are identified and can be easily avoided in real life. You can generate immediate insights and pivot based on them.
Understanding of private blockchain
With a Proof of Concept, you get a solid understanding of private blockchain technology’s pros and cons in your specific business case, before making a decision about a pilot project. By talking with domain experts, you can not only solidify defined criteria of your concept, but also explore possibilities and list precise requirements for new features.
If your idea turns out to be feasible, a gained knowledge makes it easier to communicate blockchain technology concepts to its potential users or a focus group who will be the beneficiaries of the proposed product in the making.
Project managers can evaluate a tech partner
Blockchain projects are difficult. In-house teams may not have software developers with sufficient experience in private blockchain needed to complete the project. Project managers' biggest challenge is hiring and retaining experienced software engineers. By outsourcing software professionals, they get immediate access to highly skilled developers.
Choosing a tech partner is crucial for your project’s success. By running a Proof of Concept, you have the opportunity to evaluate the blockchain software development team even before investing into a long and hopefully profitable relationship.
Build your private blockchain Proof of Concept project
Why do you need one?
How can a Proof of Concept determine the feasibility of a real world solution and aid you in verifying your idea? A few reasons why the PoC is one of the most important early stages of implementing a private blockchain-based solution:
- first of all, the evaluation component of a Proof of Concept verifies your blockchain product idea,
- you save time by identifying pain points and potential technical issues in a process that is not time consuming,
- developing an enterprise-ready blockchain requires a lot of knowledge that cannot be easily acquired.
We’re blockchain developers and enthusiasts, happy to help you figure out if blockchain is a good idea for your digital product. Our engineers are hands-on with various DLT technologies: Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Solidity, and smart contracts design, and have a portfolio of successfully delivered projects.
What does building a Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain Proof of Concept look like?
We offer a time-boxed, 4-week process where we give a space to design the exact flow of the future process, avoiding possible failure and addressing pain points.
We start off right away with strategic workshops and smoothly move on to the development of the Proof of Concept of a Hyperledger Fabric blockchain-based solution .
Proof of Concept Week 1
First, we meet with you at a workshop. The aim of this meeting is to determine the scope of the Proof of Concept and create acceptance test scenarios to verify that the Proof of Concept goals are met.
This is the conceptual part when we get to know your business needs, discuss the specific conditions of your industry, and predict potential problems that are present in your business environment.
After the workshop, we choose one process significant from your business perspective and work with this example to validate private blockchain's feasibility of your concept.
Proof of Concept Week 2
We verify the feasibility of private blockchain in your industry by analyzing the circumstances specific for your business and your niche. We identify a process to analyze how stakeholders share and manage data and determine if blockchain will really work as an improvement.
Here we prepare initial chaincodes and acceptance tests and we demo the work in progress. We not only discuss and analyze a given case in theory, but we also start coding the solution.
Proof of Concept Week 3
We implement smart contracts to meet your business requirements and conduct a demo in the cloud infrastructure. We consult the idea with you and after your feedback, we test possible scenarios and implement amendments.
This part is important because we show you a working part of the source code that our team members developed to create a simple, functioning architecture based on the Hyperledger framework. At each stage, we want to stress gathering as much feedback from you as possible.
Proof of Concept Week 4
You receive access to the developed source code and guidance on how to deploy the network in your local infrastructure. This implementation is based on one process essential for your business, the selected data will be saved on the blockchain and can be verified by all users of the process.
And that’s it — the process is so quick because we use tools and solutions that we created based on the analysis of the most common problems that private blockchain solves.
In four weeks, you will know if blockchain-based solutions fit your business needs. If yes, we can further develop your blockchain solution to give it more features and expand it to fit your objectives.
Additional features we can implement after the Proof of Concept phase may include: managing permissions to the information and features, a backend application with advanced business logic outside the blockchain, integration with other systems, managing files/documents, automatic scheduled actions, managing users, GDPR compliance, production-ready deployment of blockchain network (distributed among multiple organizations), automatic notifications, custom user interface.
We leave business development to you, let us take care of your software development success:
- backend and frontend development,
- big data & analytics software,
- and/or machine learning Proof of Concept and software development.
Want to find out more? Feel free to contact us and our blockchain team will answer all your questions about your proof of concept and private blockchain software.