Effective project portfolio management is supported with an application. However, there are many options to choose from. To be sure that an application meets the needs of your organization, more is needed than a few conversations and a short demo. A Proof of Concept (PoC) can offer a solution: a way to easily discover the software before you make a purchase decision. But how do you ensure that a PoC is successful? Here are five tips.
1. Form a PoC team
To ensure that the application is tested optimally, it is important that not only the supplier experts are involved, but also those from your own organization. Consider both technical people, such as the application manager (s) and users: the people who are actually managing the project portfolio and are fully aware of how their daily processes can be improved by a good solution. Ensure that at least one representative of each group is present at kick-off, review and conclusion.
2. Formulate clear objectives
Then discuss why you do the PoC. Project portfolio management is a broad subject, which means that an organization will usually not need all functionality. Therefore, before the PoC starts, think about why you actually do it:
- have a clear idea what you want to test in the application;
- decide upfront how you will determine whether the application fits;
- and coordinate with all stakeholders what the next steps are after a successful PoC.
3. Determine the next steps in advance
If the above is clear, contact the supplier about when the PoC will actually start. By managing the PoC as if it were one of your projects, you get the most out of it. So: what does the planning look like, what people are needed, who should be available, until when does the PoC run, and – most importantly – what is done when the PoC ends. This is important for both scenarios: if the PoC is not successful, how do you proceed? And if this is successful, are additional activities needed? Or can the solution be rolled out immediately?
4. Use the 80/20 rule
An important characteristic of a PoC is the limited duration. To use the time in the short PoC wisely, it is important that it is properly utilized. However, do not aim for 100, but for 80 percent satisfaction: the latter 20 percent requires a lot of internal consultation. That can take so much time that it is at the expense of the time that your employees can actually play with the application. Also remember that if a PoC is successful, the remaining 20 percent will follow automatically when the application is officially deployed.
5. Ensure focus
A PoC must lead to a decision, whether it is positive or negative. It is therefore important to use this period effectively: make sure that everyone involved puts enough time and effort into it. A PoC is not free, and therefore not a no-obligation activity. Ultimately, the goal is to take a solid decision about the added value of the software.