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Though prototyping decreases the probability of a software development project failure, apart from rewards, this activity has its own risks. The biggest risk is that anyone who is interested in the project after facing a working prototype will decide that the final product is almost ready. ‘Wow, you seem to have already done everything!’ enthusiastically says the one you asked to evaluate the prototype. ‘You look great. Is it possible that you will finish it quickly and give it to me?”

 

In short, then: NO! A one-time prototype is by no means designed for work, despite the fact that it looks very much like a finished product. It is just a model, a sample, an experiment. If there are no hard commercial circumstances that force you to immediately occupy a place on the market (in this case, management understands and accepts the need for high maintenance costs), resist all those who insist on the delivery of a one-time prototype as a finished product. Actually, such a step will only delay the completion of the product, because both the structure and the code of the one-time prototype were deliberately created, without regard for quality or reliability.

 

Be careful of the pitfall!!  Beware of those project stakeholders who think that the prototype is just an early version of the final product. Managing expectations is one of the key components of the success of prototyping. Everyone who sees a prototype must understand its purpose and the limits of its application.

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Do not let the fears associated with premature release of the product draw you away from creating a prototype. Explain to everyone that you are not going to release it as the final product. One way to control this risk is to use paper and electronic prototypes. None of those who evaluate the paper prototype will believe that the product is almost ready. Another way is to choose prototyping tools that are different from those used to develop the final product. This will help to counter those who ask to “quickly finish” and release a prototype. Besides, leaving the appearance of the prototype unfinished and “unpolished”, you will be able reduce this risk as well.

 

Moreover, beware when users start to pester you with the question: “How the user interface will look like and operate?” Working with prototypes that resemble the final product, users easily forget that at the stage of requirements specification they should basically think what they want to see in the system. Create the prototype only with those demonstrations, functions and navigation capabilities that will help you eliminate ambiguities in the requirements.

 

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