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Topics: Benefits Realization, Information Technology, Risk Management
What is your perception of Prototyping?
As a project manager (albeit, a PM with a business and IT architectural background), I need every ounce of knowledge possible to model, manage, and direct my projects to objective success. One of my favorite tools in my arsenal to accomplish this need is Prototyping.

Prototypes can take on many forms and be used to answer different questions on the technical and functional sides of the equation. However, I recognize the diversity of opinion on this subject, and also the concern that it conflicts with certain delivery practices and/or that it is an archaic technique that has seen its day and is no longer applicable to modern methods and practices.

I traditionally use it as a risk mitigation technique at the point of an executive-mandate, and use it to explore questions, and then from the knowledge gained, continue with project initiation. In my experience, it is an “easy sell,” especially when there are feasibility, cost-control, or delivery projection concerns.

What is your experience and thoughts on this subject?
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Prototyping is one of the ways to include Agile based practices inside waterfall life cycles. The problem is: most of the times , if you answer about prototyping you will surprise when you receive the answers about what a prototype is, which are the types of prototype and mainly the lack of knowledge about the prototype must have an objective and the script to run the prototype related to it because the objective to reach.
George -

A lot depends on what the expectations are surrounding "prototyping". I've seen prototypes range from something cooked up with duct tape and chewing gum all the way up to a true MMR. As long as stakeholders have a consistent understanding of what the prototype will and won't be for and there is discipline in how much time and money is spent prototyping, then it can be a valuable mechanism for getting feedback on product or approach viability.

Kiron
George,

Agree with Sergio and Kiron.

Also one of the prototyping is the story boarding technique which use Mock-ups navigation paths through web pages,screens or other user interfaces.
The point at which a development team becomes “enlightened,” that is, the light bulb comes on, and they truly understand “what they are doing,” and how that relates to the objectives, is also the point the project becomes catalyzed.

In other words, the catalyst for any project is “knowledge.” So, the question becomes, “where do you want that point of enlightenment to occur?” I believe this question is valid for all development approaches, including agile.

In Agile, although understandable, why wait for breakthrough moments to occur in sprint demos – what’s wrong with reasonable due-diligence in the form of tangible prototyping before one starts to sprint?
I see prototyping as a core PM technique to reduce insecurity. Any planning can be seen as a sort of prototyping, any possible future scenario is a mental prototype.

Product-related Prototypes can be categorized according to their
- completeness (complete or incomplete)
- usability (reusable or thrown away)
- purpose (demonstration, laboratory - for the purpose of validating hypothesis, pilot)

For example, a complete, reusable pilot could emerge into a delivered product, but still might need some product specific features.

Another example of a prototype would be digital twins, as envisioned thru BIM in construction. They could be seen as (in the end) complete and reusable laboratory prototypes.

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