By Michael Trezise, Senior Manager, and Casey Considine, Senior Consultant

Remaining competitive and successful in today’s marketplace requires, among other things, being better than your competitors in product innovativeness, design, quality, service and value.  Accomplishing that requires staying ahead of your competitors and in-tune with customer needs, ensuring that products exceed expectations from the start; and when they don’t, having the agility to react quickly in addressing unexpected problems, needs, and changes. Unfortunately, many companies do not have consistent, pervasive practices and methodologies in place that ensure they can get it right most of the time and can act expediently in addressing the unexpected.

Used regularly today across many industries and businesses for product, process, and software development, prototyping is one of the most valuable tools available to any company to help ensure continued competitiveness and responsive in the marketplace and with their customers.

Prototyping is nothing more than the process of developing a preliminary, validated and, sometimes, tangible realization of a concept for a process, product, system, or solution.  The preliminary realization of the concept, i.e. the prototype, serves as a working-model that is used to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept, or to define, or refine, its requirements or final form.  If proven feasible and of value, a finished prototype often serves as the basis for implementing or manufacturing a final or, potentially, enhanced version of the desired process, product, system, or solution. In some cases, the finished prototype may continue to be used as the final version.

At its best, prototyping is a highly collaborative and iterative process involving a diverse collection of individuals including, as appropriate, representatives from both internal stakeholders (e.g. IT, business, marketing, financial, users) and external stakeholders (e.g. vendors, customers, users). This wide representation and active participation of stakeholders during the prototyping process helps ensure that cross-functional business, user and customer requirements are identified, validated and tested during – and not after – the prototype design and development process.  The level and consistency of stakeholder participation has a direct impact on the quality and usability of the resulting prototype, and on short- and long-term effort and cost.

Ensuring the quality and viability of a product, process, system or solution before implementation or distribution is not a pipe dream; nor is saving time and effort, and controlling costs – it’s just good business practice.  Prototyping is one of the tools any business can use to remain competitive and successful in the marketplace.

Bardess Group has successfully used various forms of prototyping with many of our clients to validate and address short- and long-term business needs and problems.  Future articles will highlight some of our business experience and lessons in these areas.

Coming Topics

  • Prototyping (Part 2 of 4) – Process and Types
  • Prototyping (Part 3 of 4) – Challenges and Dangers
  • Prototyping (Part 4 of 4) – Roadmap to Success

 

About the Authors
Combined, Michael Trezise and Casey Considine have over 60 years of technology and business experience, of which more than 25 which have been in consulting.  They are intimately involved in helping Bardess clients understand and address their process, data and business intelligence needs and challenges, and in documenting and representing business requirements to technology representatives.  Many of their projects have utilized prototypes to demonstrate and validate process and business intelligence solutions, some of which have been used as intermediate solutions to meet business needs until fully-operational technology solutions can be developed, tested and implemented.