Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Defining Your Approach

Question 15: Have you based your development on a prototyping iterative approach?

Customer reviewing a prototype at a computer

21 Ways to Excel at Project Management

Good Practice: Developing a prototype will breathe some life into the requirements gathering process. People can find it difficult to engage in dry documents; where a screen-based prototype can bring the debate to life.

Prototyping involves feedback from customers to developers on a trial based product. Each time a new prototype is released, it is usually an enhancement of a previous one. The evolutionary prototype often becomes the final product. Prototyping was first recognised as a software development approach when developers found that they couldn't figure out all the requirements, until work had started on the project. 1

Basing the development on a series of prototypes will create a perception of early delivery to the users and a feeling of involvement in and commitment to the development process.

You should involve a large population of users in prototype reviews as early as possible. This ensures that a large percentage of users will already have seen the system through demonstrations and training sessions before the 'go-live' date. This provides a high-level of confidence the system meets-user-needs, and it highlights early on, any problem areas needing more attention.

Skipping this step and going straight to build may result in costly rework.

Common Mistakes

  • Basing user requirements on large documents only.
  • Not using an iterative prototyping approach.
  • Not involving enough 'real' users.

1 ContekSoft, Prototype Development Approach, Glossary.