With app development now a mainstay of the tech industry, entrepreneurs can get easy access to app development companies. They may engage with ‘strategists’ and ‘app designers’ but rarely can they get access to the company’s technical expertise (or lack thereof).
But great app development companies will combine design and technology experts to consider and interrogate the technology aspects of an app early on, directly with a client. Why? Put simply, a beautifully designed app will not succeed if it doesn’t work as the client intended. And too often, whether an app’s function is technically feasible is left to developers to figure out at the last minute in isolation.
One way to de-risk your app project is with a technical proof-of-concept. Here’s how and why this could be one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to ensure your app idea is a success.
What is a technical proof-of-concept?
In-app development, a technical proof-of-concept refers to exploring the feasibility of a technical aspect of the app. There are two questions you might explore using a proof-of-concept.
The first question is how can this be done? Here the aim of doing a proof-of-concept is to research the opportunities and constraints that exist for relevant technologies that may impact the design and execution of the app.
The second question is whether it can be done? In this instance, a technical proof-of-concept is used to explore if the app can be built in the way the client intends – in other words determining if it is possible and/or feasible.
There is a range of scenarios where it makes sense to do a technical proof-of-concept.
If your app idea needs to exchange or share data with another system (called an ‘integration’), particularly a proprietary system, then a proof-of-concept is often a good idea. This is because this aspect of the development generally requires significant scoping and potential collaboration with other IT teams. If there are barriers for sharing the data or it is displayed in a particular way, then this needs to be considered before or during the app design.
Another situation where a technical proof-of-concept should be considered is if you are using new or emerging technology (think speech recognition, Augmented Reality for apps) or there are a range of ways an important feature within the app could be implemented (eg. ‘out of the box’ or custom).
What is the process?
The process for a technical proof-of-concept will depend on the question you are seeking to answer.
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 ensures that any technical opportunities and constraints can be identified early and inform the design of the app.
If it relates to feasibility – can it be done – then a technical proof-of-concept can be completed as the first step in determining a strategy for the app. This is because app developers will not require a lot of detail on the app requirements or the design. Instead, the app strategy is what is under consideration.
A technical proof-of-concept may take app developers anywhere from a couple of days to two-plus weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the technology and/or goals for the proof of concept.
What are the benefits of a technical proof-of-concept?
Too often, founders and businesses are presented with great app designs or a slick prototype without any technical input from developers. This means that when it comes to building the app, it either can’t be built in accordance with the designs (and they need to be reworked) or it can’t be built at all. This has obvious implications for a client’s timeframe and budget.
A technical proof-of-concept is therefore a relatively inexpensive way to de-risk your app investment. By bringing forward some of the development activities to run in parallel with the design, you are ensuring that when it comes to the build, your designs and requirements are technically and commercially feasible.
Guy Cooper, Managing Director of Wave Digital
Guy Cooper is Managing Director of Wave Digital, an Australian app development company founded in 2000. He is a business owner and tech entrepreneur who works with founders, executives, and fellow business owners to bring their app idea to life.