When selecting a technology or partner to deliver a business solution for your organisation during the courtship there is often discussion about a proof of concept (PoC) or pilot.

These are great mechanisms to trial and discover what the outcomes of implementing said solution will be for your business. Vendors or prospective partners may offer a free PoC or pilot to convince you that they are the best partner to work with.

A complimentary PoC may seem like an offer too good to refuse however there are implications of not at least part funding these ‘trials’ including:

  • Prospective vendor’s ability to commit resources without funding is diminished – your PoC is unlikely to have priority over paid client engagements.
  • Vendors or prospective partners will provide the minimum necessary to show you how the solution works ‘in principle’. As such your expectations need to be positioned at the lower end of the scale.
  • In many cases the free PoC will contain the vendor’s sample data not use cases and data which is yours.
  • Your internal resources are more likely to be distracted by other priorities as ‘free’ means there is less value placed on the PoC.

These four points make a significant difference to the outcome of your trial. To get the best out of a PoC or pilot funding it will most certainly result in greater value. Most vendors or prospective partners will provide a shared risk model. This can take a number of formats but typically the investment in the PoC or pilot is reduced or credited back if the pilot turns into a project.

Participating in a funded trial ensures that:

  • You will get committed partner resources to provide a fast time to value for the PoC and a solution which will help you articulate the benefits.
  • The PoC is more likely to contain artefacts that can be used in a production solution if it turns into a project – saving deployment time and providing value from the PoC.
  • Using your own data will allow you to see how the solution would function in the real world – this can help line of business people understand the impacts on them specifically and where the ROI will be achieved.
  • Your internal resourcing is easier to commit as the organisation has placed value in the PoC and wants to get the most out of a funded project. There will also be an expectation that the articulated success criteria are reported on.

Using PoCs and pilots to trial a solution is very valuable, just consider the outcome you want to achieve and whether or not the best trial in life is indeed free.

The best things in life are free… or are they?
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