Prototyping techniques in business analysis

Business analysts use prototypes to elicit and validate the stakeholders’ requirements through an repetitive process that creates a model or design of those requirements.

It is also used to assess design options, enhance the user’s experience, and form the basis of the final business solution.

Prototyping is a substantiated method used for product design. The prototype works by developing an early model of the final potential solution.

Prototyping can be used to identify missing requirements and unconfirmed assumptions by showing what the product looks like and how it behaves in the early stages of design.

They can be used to mock up websites, serve as a partially working build of the product, or define processes through workflow diagrams.

Prototypes can be non-working or working models, or digital
representations of a proposed solution.

Prototypes have some components, which include:

1. Prototyping Approach: There are two common approaches to prototyping and they are:
a. Throw-away: in this approach prototypes are created with simple tools such as paper and pencil, a whiteboard, or software. The prototype is used to discover and simplify requirements but it does not form part of the final solution.

b. Evolutionary or Functional: in this approach the prototypes are created to transform the initial requirements into a functioning solution. This approach creates a working solution and usually requires a specialized prototyping tool or language. These prototypes may also be used in the final solution.

2. Prototyping Examples: There are examples of prototypes and they include :

Proof of Concept: this model is created to test the product design. It may not look like or have the functionalities of the final product, but it would have enough detail to prove that the product would fulfil the organizational needs.

Form Study Prototype: this is used to examine the size, look, and feel of
the solution but without most of its functionalities. This type of prototype may be used to model a workflow in order to identify inconsistencies in the potential products’ appearance and configuration.

Usability Prototype: this product model is created to test how the end user interacts with the system.

Visual Prototype:this product model is created to test the visual features of the solution without modelling all the functionalities.

Functional Prototype: this model which is also called a working model, is created to mimic business processes and test a solution’s functionalities such as its appearance and workflow.

3. Prototyping Methods: there are numerous prototyping methods which include:
i. Storyboarding: this is used to visually and textually explain the order of
activities by summarizing different user exchange with the solution or

ii. Paper Prototyping: this method uses paper and pencil to create a mockup of a process.

iii. Workflow Modelling: this method which usually centers on the human aspect, shows how the order of operations that are performed.

Simulation: this is used to show solutions or parts of a solution.
It may also test various processes, scenarios, business rules, data inputs.

Prototyping techniques has its strengths and limitations, which include:

• it provides a visual representation of the future state.
• It allows the stakeholders to provide input and feedback earlier on in the design process.
• It’s cheaper to analyse and fix a paper prototype than a semi-finished product.

• If the process is too complicated, it may be difficult to use a prototype to represent it.
• Oversimplifying a solution might lead to incorrect assumptions.
• If could lead to unrealistic expectations for the final solution.