Proof of Concept vs. Prototype vs. Pilot

Introducing a new tool or framework into your business means revamping existing processes, changing existing integrations, training your users. It requires a lot of hassle. Therefore you want to make sure the new technology is meeting all expectations. How do you ensure that? By creating Proof of Concept (POC), then Prototype, running a Pilot project, and eventually going life.

Watch out! In October 2017, I spoke at Agile Tour Vilnius conference about my prototyping experiences. Here is a blog post about 8 insights from the talk to help you use prototyping more efficiently.

POC, Prototype, and Pilot mean different things but often are used interchangeably. Let’s investigate different meanings to help us avoid mismatches of expectations in the future.

POC vs. Prototype vs. Pilot vs. Production

POC vs. Prototype vs. Pilot vs. Production

Bubble sizes represent associated costs.

Proof of Concept (POC)

A POC is a small exercise to test a discrete design idea or assumption. The primary objective is to prove that a solution is viable. An example of a POC is testing whether one technology talks to another. Or is a folded sheet of paper able to fly :)

Proof of concept


A prototype simulates the full system or at least a relevant part of it. While a POC shows that a product or feature can be done, a prototype explains how it will be done. A prototype may provide some re-usable components that can be re-used in a pilot or production version. However, it is also possible that it will be more efficient to re-do most or all of the system.



A pilot is a productionalized system available for a subset of the whole audience. The reason for doing a pilot is to get a better understanding of how the product will be used in the field and to refine the product. Another name for Pilot is Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Pilot / Minimum Viable Product


These three techniques provide a quick and less expensive way to validate a technology/framework/product. While working on new technologies, it’s worth to be skeptical about all the promises and features you find in the documentation. Give it a spin by creating a quick POC or a Prototype.