Proof of Concept Vs Pilot Program

Last week, in a discussion with our very smart Citrix field sales genius, Toby, he helped me with a better framework for taking risk out of projects with customers for running Proofs of Concept (POC).   The breakthrough for me was that there was such a thing as a pilot program, which is something different.

From the omniscient

A proof of concept (POC) or a proof of principle is a realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle, whose purpose is to verify that some concept or theory has the potential of being used. A proof of concept is usually small and may or may not be complete.

A pilot project refers to an initial roll-out of a system into production, targeting a limited scope of the intended final solution. The scope may be limited by the number of users who can access the system, the business processes affected, the business partners involved, or other restrictions as appropriate to the domain. The purpose of a pilot project is to test, often in a production environment.

So, where we have been talking about POC, we really ought to be talking about running a pilot program that tests some limited set of functions usually specific to a business.

There is something in the semantics here: the concept of nearly everything that we do is already proven, usually in a production environment.   However, we can understand that business may need from time to time to be able to better investigate a set of technologies and how they might work in a specific business culture.  Moreover, this is probably the best way to help with the successful introduction of a new system, acknowledging the change that is coming and gathering support and buy from teams, electing champions and informing the bigger scale roll-out that we are all envisaging.

We are also more and more careful to make sure that the mutual investment in a pilot program is rewarded by being very clear on what it is that we are proving, how this will be measured and what the metrics are around that – well implemented technology does what it is configured to do and being clear on that is the very best investment in success.

Sean Murphy

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