As Business Leaders are building their Digital Strategy Roadmap Blockchain Technology is becoming more and more frequent in the conversation.  We can take a look at the different areas of Digital Transformation to understand where Blocking Technology seems to make a good fit. We can begin by looking at business strategy.  The main goal of business strategy is to be able to establish differentiation and gain a competitive advantage. Some example of this could be your company providing more secure transactions, lower fees, etc.  Another key area of digital transformation is in operations and value chain. It refers to the way that you collaborate among your business network and the type of visibility provided. For example, for a manufacture, uses technology for inventory maintenance and replenishment based on upcoming needs of orders.  Lastly, we can take a look at the customer engagement segment of your business. Customer engagement refers to how you understand your customer. Information about your customer such as purchase histories, communication preferences and shopping behavior, all contribute to how you know your customer. Ultimately, implementing blockchain technology can contribute enormous value in any of the business areas we just discussed. But the key here is:  How can we Implement blockchain technology successfully. This is the main reason for us to talk about the 10 Tips for a Successful Blockchain POC.

The reason why we’re talking about a proof of concept when we’re discussing Blockchain implementation is because this is an Emerging Technology. As the lean methodology has taught us, we want to prove out value quickly with minimal risk. That’s exactly what a proof-of-concept is;  a realization of a certain method or idea in order to demonstrate feasibility. This very concept of testing out new ideas will allow your business to endure the long term. It’s important to always reinvent yourself and by implementing new technology the right way, you’ll be able to make a quick determination if it’s right or wrong for you. In this article, we will cover the following 10 Tips for a Successful Blockchain POC:

  1. Project Management Essentials
  2. Understand the Technology
  3. Define the Problem
  4. Evaluate the Readiness
  5. Consider Business Implications
  6. Consider Technical Implications
  7. Narrow Key Performance Indicators
  8. Collaborate on Testing
  9. Proof of Concept Debrief
  10. 360 Solution Gap Review
  1. Project Management Essentials

Like any project, implementing blockchain technology needs to have proper Product/Project Management throughout the entire Project Life Cycle. There is no difference between implementing this technology versus some other technology that you’ve already implemented in your organization. Some of our suggestions include involving your PMO,  establish project risks, obtain a detailed set of project requirements, include specific project assumptions, utilize the correct project methodologies such as Waterfall or/and Agile, utilize the right resources, and have accountability for specific deliverables.

  1. Understand the Technology

It’s a lot easier to implement something when you know what that something is.  Make sure that you educate your team on blockchain technology and have them actually put their hands on working demos. At Envision Blockchain,  we understand the importance of this type of Education and that’s why we offer our Blockchain Immersion Labs. The Immersion Labs are simple half day complementary workshops taking the participants through Blockchain 101 and also interact with functioning smart contracts. Some of our suggestions on how to understand the technology include understanding the difference between public and private Blockchain, understanding the immutability of data, understand how smart contracts work, and being able to discuss different consensus algorithms.

  1. Define the Problem

By providing clarity around your business problems or areas of opportunity for more efficiency, you can create the most amount of value from your proof of concept. In other words you need to establish a goal in order to achieve success. Some companies call this a used case assessment. When we perform use case assessments for our clients we cover over 14 different points to discover their business problem and how blockchain maybe the right fit. Without getting into all the detail,  we recommend to at least discuss the following: who is in your Business Network, discuss your data sources and where they’re coming from, map out your Business Processes, lay out the different Value Streams involved, and ultimately you should be able to answer whether there’s a need for Blockchain or not.

  1. Understand the Readiness

We know that blockchain may be an exciting project to work on, however, there is a chance that not everybody is on board for this type of project. That is the quickest way to fail.  We recommend to make sure that you evaluate the readiness of your Blockchain proof of concept. In order to do that you would need to make sure that you have at minimum the following:  an organized Project Team, Product owners, Blockchain Subject Matter Experts (either internal or external), Subject Matter Experts from your different Legacy Systems, and also System Integration Subject Matter Experts (either internal or external).  The main point in establishing the readiness; is that your organization needs to be able to agree to cross-functionally move together.

  1. Consider Business Implications

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the technical aspects of Blockchain. We often get caught up in the weeds of Technology while not maintaining the Business outlook. This is why we recommend to consider Business Implications as part of your proof of concept. Some points to consider include establishing the Return on Investment,  how the data is going to be used, what is the end user experience going to be, and what sort of Governance will be put in place.

  1. Consider Technical Implications

We know that in the point above we mentioned don’t get too deep into the weeds with technology when making Business Considerations. We don’t mean ignore technology altogether. This is a technology-based proof-of-concept after all isn’t it? It’s important to consider Technical Implications. Here are some technical factors to consider: determine the right blockchain, Distributed Ledger requirements, are you going to be using open source versus proprietary code, what’s the right consensus algorithm, and how flexible will you be with technology requirements.

  1. Narrow Key Performance Indicators

It’s easy to get carried away with Blockchain Technology. To avoid “Scope Creep,” it’s best that you narrow your scope which also means narrowing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The reason is you want to be able to test a set of specific deliverables. In order to do this, you’d have to align your Key Performance Indicators to whatever your business problem is. These KPIs  are essentially data that’s been constructed in a way that tells a story. The KPIs need to be communicated to your stakeholders through the appropriate channels and at the same time the KPIs should be relatable to each of the stakeholders.

  1. Collaborate on Testing

The most important takeaway on tip number 8 is that for efficient testing we need to test together. We recommend to focus on fixing bugs. There is a lesser tendency to pass the buck if you’re focused on solving specific problems together. Try to pair test. Include Business and IT in your testing process. It’s possible that an identified bug is not really a bug because it was meant for a specific business feature.

  1. Proof of Concept Debrief

Proof-of-concept debrief allows all stakeholders to understand what went on and more importantly, provides is a lesson learned document. It should contain all of the information on you’re testing, Key Performance Indicators, Technical Implications, Business Implications, Readiness, Problem Definition, and any other project related information.

  1. 360 Solution GaP Review

The 360 Solution Gap Review is a little bit different than the proof-of-concept debrief. Where the proof-of-concept debrief spoke about the current proof of concept; the 360 Solution Gap Review provides an analysis of what was missing from the proof-of-concept that may impact it on moving forward. Also, the 360 Solution Gap Review should also provide the analysis on what is missing from the next iteration or what would be needed to take it into Pilot or Production.

As you can see there’s a lot that goes into a proof-of-concept and it’s no wonder why so many proof-of-concept fail. To recap, we need to treat Blockchain POCs as real projects that will provide immense business value. To learn more about the concepts we spoke about in this article, we recommend that you watch a presentation that explains more in depth the tips explained in this article. You could find that YouTube video by clicking here.