Finding new technology or new approaches to solve problems is not an easy task within any organization. Embracing the idea of a POC - Proof of Concept - can give valuable information about how well a solution fits your organization before you go all-in, saving you a lot of trouble in the long run. But it is no easy feat and it will consume some resources and money from your organization - you want to avoid a vendor-controlled “show-an-tell”!
The idea with POCs is to create measurable scenarios, closely connected to a set of requirements, and then see how new technology or processes can adapt to these scenarios. These scenarios are setup in a controlled environment to be able to evaluate and compare your options. To be able to benefit from a POC, here are some points to consider before starting your POC-project!
Get the organization on board
No matter what you are evaluating you will need some internal backing. Explain not only your needs but also the outcome or savings you can make by fulfilling them. Sponsors from your business are crucial, but try to include sponsors from the tech-side too. The solution you evaluate might need to be taken care of in the future!
Get your bearings
Identify your current solution by mapping technical platforms, operational costs, users, workloads, tools, volumes, dependencies and all other parts that might be affected by a change. By creating a map of your current state you will be able to more easily take the next step.
Identify your needs
If you are considering implementing a new solution or process, you are probably already facing some problems in your current state. Do you have performance issues or does your solution not scale? Is it too expensive? Too complex? Try to identify your current challenges and try to grade them. Which problems needs to be addressed first? A deeper understanding of your needs facilitates your POC preparation.
Visualizing your new heading
Use your identified needs to create What-if statements to find opportunities in fulfilling your needs. What if we solve our performance issues by moving into the cloud? Will we be able to save money? Decommission old systems? Increase number of users? The more opportunities that can be identified, the stronger the business case will be. Be sure to include several parts of your organization as they might see opportunities you don’t!
Specify your requirements
As the needs and opportunities have been charted, they can be collected into a set of requirements for the new solution. Some of them might be mandatory and some nice to have. The requirements should reflect what needs you are expecting the new solution to handle. Try to be specific as the POC later must be able to determine if requirements have been met or not. Also try to prioritize your requirements – you might need to settle for only a few of them in the POC.
The requirements will be the main input to pick out possible tools or processes to evaluate and to initiate the actual POC project.
Stay tuned for tips about POC project implementation in upcoming part II !