So, Your Proof of Concept is Done – Now What?

By Sara Bause Mason, VP – Operations -ComQi

How do you translate the success of your proof of concept program to a scale-able deployment that can be repeated time and again while delivering a quality product?

I’m often asked “what’s next” after a Proof of Concept (or POC) and it’s actually one of my favorite topics. Let me expand.

A PoC could be rightfully re-named as a PPOC, or Planning and Proof of Concept. At ComQi, we refer to it as Scenario Planning—we dig into every scenario and plan what it’s going to take, who will be involved, how will it be installed and what road blocks to maneuver. We also have to prove against KPI’s, while delivering in the clients environment. It’s a dry run that sets everyone with mission critical knowledge needed to ensure a smooth next step—expansion.

Post POC, there are a few critical things that must be done to button up what’s next and they apply to (3) different constituencies: viewers, doers and leaders.

viewers-watching-motion-picture-sketch-icon-vector-13233234The Viewers/Users:

  • Engagement: Based on observations, surveys and any available hard data, create a baseline of takeaways regarding what engaged them, what didn’t and what was done differently to meet the end user objectives. Then, ensure a succinct set of recommendations to optimize the experience and/or content moving forward.
  • Placement: Revisit screen placement in relation to the environment, customer journey and determine any adjustments to better address viewability and engagement ratios.
  • Digital Content Guidelines, Usage and Standards: Based on the above, create a standards manual that defines the content strategy and specific usage and guidelines for creating content. This should include types of content, message strategy and rules for design as well as playlist templates, cadence structure and workflow.

manual

The Doers:

  • Operations & User Manual: Create a topline of observations, issues encountered and resolutions from the POC. Then, based upon the ‘learned environment’, lay out a manual that addresses what will be done, who will be involved, how it will be installed and how it will be managed post-install. It will be used by all stakeholders, so be clear about the rules, instructions and resolution process for both install and daily operations. Ensure that disruption is minimized, and fears are allayed, but also be transparent about what to expect.
  • Training Manuals: The POC should have helped the teams determine the best methods and platforms for training both at headquarters and in the field. Based on budget and work style, create the necessary training materials for field operations as well as the content and IT teams.
  • Communications Plan: Tied to the training manual is the communications plan. The reality of any network is that things happen, but based on the POC and team feedback, you should be able to clearly communicate the process, touchpoints, escalation contacts and procedures for all reporting and help needs.

leadersThe Leaders:

  • Value Add Use Cases: Discuss additional value-add the network could be used for. Could a back office/break room network be beneficial to support training and/or promotional ‘must knows’? Could syncing with a mobile play be a plus?.
  • Test Expansion: POC’s are typically done within “friendly sites”. Do you need to expand the test to include other store types, demographic or technographic profiles or urban vs. rural considerations? This may give realistic feedback Also, do you want to test other technologies? Make a determination and plan accordingly, as valuable feedback can be garnered.
  • Business Case Refinement: Part of the POC is financial planning, and it’s a test case that ensures realistic investments—and potential outcomes—for each site. Go back to the KPI’s and tweak the plan and numbers based upon leadership feedback, qualitative/quantitative results and real-world financials. Determine, based on what was experienced, what you now desire to own versus outsource and build the expansion budget accordingly.

Ultimately, POC’s are powerful planning periods for ensuring rollout success. They give all involved the opportunity to test every effort, experience the realities, tweak what’s necessary and properly document the what, who, how and who to call. They ensure a better business outcome, as the surprises and necessary pivots are caught early. The ticket is to properly nuance the strategic, creative and operational approaches and, like any good plan, organize and systemize how to move forward.