Marco GerussiMarco Gerussi Proof of Concept – Less Risk for System Implementations

06/26/2008 by Marco Gerussi

Scoping for defined requirements and harmonized expectations
The scoping approach allows you to define requirements, expectations and project scopes when systems, methods and processes are implemented. This results in aligned expectations, a well-designed system architecture, defined requirements as well as a structured implementation roadmap. If the roadmap is implemented in several iterations, quick wins are achieved in addition to a direct benefit to the project client and the users.

Technically complex problems as a challenge
If system implementations are planned in technically complex environments, in addition to the purely technical requirements that have to be met, the following questions should be addressed:

  • Is a clean system installation possible?
  • Can the solution be integrated into the existing system landscape?
  • Which is the best way to coordinate the installation and integration with the IT organization
  • Are all used technologies compatible?
  • Which interfaces are affected, and in which way?
  • Can the described functions really be implemented?
  • How does the system behave with regard to usability?
  • Will the system be accepted by the users?
  • Which are the actual costs to be faced?
  • Which technical capabilities and roles are required for the implementation?
  • Can the planned benefit really be achieved?
  • How about the capabilities of partners, manufacturers and providers, and what characterizes collaboration with them?

The above questions are only part of the criteria which are relevant to success. To answer them, further activities are necessary. Very often, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the technical and organizational feasability of the project as well as about the time and costs involved.

Proof of concept: minimization of risk in decision-making process
In the context of system implementations, proof of concept (POC) equals a technical feasability study. POC can be used as a part of scoping to check for technical and organizational feasability of projects. Prior to execution, the criteria relevant to success and the subsequent steps must be clearly defined in order to ensure maximum benefit. For working out a POC, it is recommendable to implement a mock-up or a prototype comprising the core functionality. This allows to test the functions, define them accurately and involve the users in the planned project at an early stage. Proof of concept reveals which requirements can be met in which way and which functionality demand workarounds or additional solutions. Thus, time and cost expenditure for installation and integration into the existing system landscape can later be well estimated and planned in agreement with the responsible IT organization.

Pilot pojects as a performance indicator
Experience has shown that working with pilot projects significantly adds to success. The prototype is used in productive systems on a limited scale. There are various alternatives to proceed:

  • limited user group
  • limited functionality
  • limited process scope
  • limited and/or isolated system environment

Working with a pilot project allows you to rather accurately pre-estimate if the system in action meets all requirements, covers the planned functionality and proves to provide the expected benefit.

Summary

Proof of concept allows you to find out if the implementation of a system can be technically realized, and to evaluate the capabilities of manufacturers, partners and providers as well as the quality of collaboration with them. In addition, the expected time and cost expenditure for installation and integration into the existing system landscape are made calculable and can be planned in accordance with the responsible IT organization. Prior to execution, the criteria relevant to success and the subsequent steps must be defined.

It is recommended to create a prototype which includes the core functionality, i.e. those functions from which the greatest benefit is derived. This allows the users to be involved at an early stage of the project; as a positive result, user-friendliness and acceptance by users can be evaluated and taken into account. If the prototype is tested in the context of a pilot project with either a limited user group, limited functionality, limited process scope, or on a separate system, this will result in a realistic view of the potential of benefit. Proof of concept is used to work out facts and foundations in order to minimize the risk of making inappropriate decisions in the process of system deployment.

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