How to Lead a Successful Proof of Concept (POC) Process with Results does not Leave Doubt!

Posted: April 19, 2021 by Natalya Rahmany

Contemplating a shift in your organization’s automation tools?

Unsure how to kick off the Proof of Concept (POC) process or worried about its ambiguous outcomes?

Let’s navigate the POC journey together, ensuring clarity and aiding in the selection of the ideal automation tool.

Replacing or introducing a new automation tool demands meticulous planning, setting clear process goals, and defining what the new tool should achieve compared to its predecessor.

The POC process requires well-defined criteria for assessing the tool’s performance, which should be endorsed by relevant stakeholders beyond the testing team, extending to other departments leveraging the tool.

Presenting these criteria to additional stakeholders not only adds another dimension but also secures their commitment to the tool replacement, influencing its successful integration within the organization.

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Let’s dive into the process of effectively leading a POC.

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind considering a new tool. Engage with your team to comprehend the daily impacts—both positive and negative—of the existing tool. In one instance, I initiated a discussion with my team after hearing their ongoing complaints. This conversation aimed to discern whether these complaints were rooted in real technical shortcomings of the tool.

As a result, it became evident that our team spent considerable time maintaining automation tests due to lacking functions in the tool, despite testers’ expectations, alongside the tool’s high cost. Consequently, we opted to explore the POC process to assess the viability of replacing the tool.

Here are the steps to select the automation tool:

  1. Begin by integrating the POC process into the version roadmap, allocating reasonable time within version development for relevant staff to execute the POC.

  2. Narrow down three tools from the market. Seeking advice from other test managers, engaging with QA groups on social media, and market exploration can help identify tools suited for your organization.

  3. Establish the end-to-end system flow(s) for testing. While avoiding overly complex scenarios, ensure it covers the core functionality of the system, aiming to evaluate how the tool manages the product’s end-to-end process.

  4. Define specific criteria for the automation tool, tailoring them to your product’s needs. Here’s an example table of criteria implemented for a user interface automation tool, where we predefined the priority for each criterion based on the product’s requirements and our team’s testing priorities.

The priority of criteria may fluctuate depending on the product’s demands.

Criteria Priority Tool #1 Tool#2
Cross Browsers Testing High    
Supported Dev Languages High    
Supported Test Framework High High    
Setup and Execution- CI/CD High    
Integrations High    
Code oriented High-Medium    
Version Control Supported High    
Easy Maintained High    
Debugging and Logging High    
Easy to write High    
Reporting Capability High    
Maturity, Documentation, Support High    
Cost-Efficient High    
Speed High    
Wait for Element Medium    
Video and Screenshot support High    
Parallel Execution High    
Remote Execution High    
Manage Cookies Medium    
Repeatable, Reliable High    
Email Notifications (Custom email message received if tests are passed successfully/ failed/or any network failure) High    
Dev Engineer Skill Level High    
Installation Complexity (both in time and in resources Medium    
Load/Performance High    

Among the criteria we’ve outlined, some dive deep into technical aspects while others focus on potential costs associated with the chosen tool. Surprisingly, it’s worth considering criteria like staff training expenses within the organization.

A comprehensive planning phase for the POC process should encompass all relevant aspects to gain a holistic understanding.

Next, convene a meeting with pertinent stakeholders to present and discuss the selected criteria, allowing ample room for diverse opinions. Post-meeting insights can lead to criteria updates, aligning them better with collective conclusions.

Another key aspect of this meeting is agreeing on the specific end-to-end flow to be evaluated during the POC. This mutual agreement ensures you’re on the right track before diving into the POC and secures additional commitment from stakeholders.

Here’s how the POC process unfolds:

  1. Initial Phase: Dive into learning about the tools based on the predefined criteria. Gather information online and through practical tool engagement (installation, scenario scripting, report executions, etc.).

  2. Automation Phase: Automate an end-to-end flow for each tool. Regularly track POC progress, updating stakeholders on progress status every few days, ensuring alignment with the predefined plan.

  3. Internal Team Meeting: Present the results and address queries about the tools and their potential implementation.

  4. Concluding Stakeholder Meeting: Review POC outcomes, address queries, and collectively decide on the final tool selection.

In summary, while the POC process might present challenges, it’s a pathway to innovation that breaks the routine, offering the prospect of improved outcomes. Methodical leadership, predefined structures, and stakeholder involvement ensure objective and irrefutable results.

Do you find this post beneficial? Share your insights in the comments about how it has contributed to your understanding.

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