The What, Why and When of Using Prototype in the Software Development Life Cycle

October 20, 2017 White Papers

There are many stages in the software development life cycle (SDLC) including planning, design, development, testing, and maintenance. The most important aspect when it comes to the overall success of the product or solution is the planning phase. This is when the customer, product owner, and development team all get together to discuss goals, needs, budget and a timeline for the project. Software prototyping

One of the keys to success in the planning stage is to come up with a prototype prior to development. Why is creating a prototype so important? That’s what we discuss in this white paper: the What, the Why, and the When of prototyping.

WHAT is a software prototype?

The simplest explanation for the term prototype is a model or simulation of a real product. When applying prototype development to software, it refers to creating an application that displays the main functionality of what will be the finished product.

To get a better idea of the prototype concept, think of a fashion designer sketching a dress and then creating a sample using a muslin on a dress form. The muslin creation demonstrates the overall look and feel of what the dress will look like, but it is not yet a finished product with the actual fabric, beading, trim, etc. Seeing the prototype may cause the fashion designer to go back and change some of the initial aspects of the design in order to produce a better outcome.

A software prototype model comes in many different forms. It can model an entire system with real data or just basic functionality and screens using sample data. One of the most commonly used classifications is based on the fidelity of the prototype.

  • A low-fidelity prototype is an illustrative one that can be produced quickly with the main purpose being to represent screen mockups and demonstrate the main business scenarios of the future system.
  • A middle-fidelity prototype partially simulates the future system functionality without using real data.
  • A high-fidelity prototype is fully interactive and simulates much of the future system’s functions. In some cases, a high-fidelity prototype could use real data and produce a model that becomes part of the future product.

Another approach is to classify the prototypes by two major types:

  • Throwaway prototypes are created in the early stages of the project and will be discarded and not used in the actual development of the product.
  • Evolutionary prototypes are those that could become the part of the future product.

No matter what type of the prototype you are going to create, you need to also understand the “why” and the “when” prior to planning and development.

Download the full version to learn more.

I Want to Know More

Download White-Paper