Anyone involved in a new product or offering understands how requirements and design can quickly become out of control. Developers begin making assumptions through the build and integration of the solution. Project managers promise more than what is capable of the entire team. New voices get involved and user acceptance testing quickly spirals out of control, headed straight for failure. The solution initially in the minds of team members is obviously not coming to life. Instead of becoming motivated and excited about the end product, everyone’s product dreams are dampened by the disappointing reality of an inadequate and compromised solution.
So how can you stop this reoccurring scenario from happening? Rapid prototyping. Teams can create interactive designs instead of rigid, lengthy, and quite frankly, uninspiring, functional requirements documents. Online prototypes can be accessed anytime, by all different users, to get a variety of feedback. Furthermore, collaborative review sessions build an environment and framework for ultimate product success. Not convinced? Here are five more reasons why rapid prototyping rocks:
- It allows users to imagine new possibilities. You know the phrase, “seeing is believing” – This couldn’t be truer for new products and offerings. Often business stakeholders can’t imagine a different truth from their current reality and IT teams can’t communicate their ultimate vision. Prototypes allow for both kinds of users to engage with low-definition, but realistic solutions.
- It ensures quick and unique iterations. Too often, product teams enlist feedback of users too late in the game. Requirements were approved. Assumptions have been made. The solution is built. “Changes this late in the game would disrupt the structure of the entire product! … THAT change would push our deployment date back.” These conversations don’t have to happen in the world of rapid prototyping. Iterations can be built in a single day or for more complex functionality, within a week or two. Rapid iterations and regular review sessions ensure feedback early and often for the best ultimate solution.
- Teams can witness the solution evolve. Related to quick iterations, prototyping powerfully unites business and IT to comprehend (and appreciate) the progression of the product. Design priorities shift, as do expectations. Prototyping is flexible enough to allow teams to manage change more effectively.
- It engages all stakeholders throughout the product process. Too often we see key users or sponsors disengaged until the final hours of a product solution. Rapid prototyping guarantees the productive cooperation of business and IT product team members through the prototype development. Feedback is reviewed holistically with the team. Designs are updated and reworked based on agreed to priorities. Everyone has the opportunity to use the product to understand the desired features and functionality.
- It provides a solid foundation for implementation phase. A prototype delivers the necessary base, both functionally and technically, for the final product. It brings a graspable and communal vision. It garners positive momentum and confident support in the final solution across all team members.
Consider how you can incorporate rapid prototyping for your new product or offerings. Enlist the right team members within leadership, as well as within business and IT groups. Ultimately, the investment in time and resources is well worth the gained value of a better solution.