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Use Rapid Prototyping to Foster Collaborative, Agile Development

Visualize Systems to Help Overcome Resistance to Transformational Change

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By: Bob Ragsdale

August 11, 2015 | Case Management/BPM

While many organizations have a technological appetite for transformational change, oftentimes it isn't matched by a human appetite for change on an organizational level. Frequently, projects fail not because the systems being put in place are substandard, but because of low levels of adoption. I recall a Gartner BPM summit where analyst Janelle Hill spoke to this very point noting that only 10 percent of organizations pursuing BPM achieve enterprise success. In that particular talk, Hill made a very compelling case for the adoption of more social and collaborative approaches that allow for broad team participation up front.

One of the best ways to foster collaboration around system development up front is via rapid prototyping.  Below are five ways platforms that facilitate rapid prototyping can help teams better socialize and visualize solutions in advance of having to fully commit to them.

Rapid Prototyping Delivers Fast Turnaround Times

Use Rapid Prototyping to Foster Collaborative, Agile Development

One of rapid prototyping’s greatest advantages is that it can deliver semi-functional (and sometimes fully functional) mock-ups. Most platforms do this by leveraging the built-in modeling components and by employing visual models. This lets stakeholders interact with the system and provide valuable feedback from the very earliest stages of development. With platforms such as entellitrak this cycle can be as short as a few days to a week for simple or complex applications.

Rapid Prototyping Fosters Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement

Rapidly prototyped systems can be used to quickly demonstrate ideas and receive feedback from diverse audiences. This creates an opportunity for the stakeholders to become involved in the process and to development a level of commitment to its success early on. These team members can provide crucial input and may also help refine the requirements to better meet the organization’s expectations. Because rapid prototyping follows an agile, iterative approach, users have the opportunity to experience the translation of additional requirements with each cycle. This in turn not only helps stakeholders gain confidence in the system but also makes it easier to relate it to their day-to-day work.

Rapid Prototyping Lowers Perceived Risks and Fears of Failure

Rapid prototyping lowers risks on a couple of fronts. First off, it is far less resource intensive than traditional development so if it doesn’t pan out, the cost and resource impact is quite limited. Also, due to its highly iterative nature, feedback comes in faster short development cycles so the project can never get very far off track – potential flaws are detected early-on leading to a higher quality end-product. If there are failures, they are quick and small.

Rapid Prototyping Can Deliver Proof Points for Project Funding

Long-term project funding may depend on a timely and successful near-term proof-of-concept. Rapid prototyping can be used to provide a quick indication of future system capabilities, as well as the level of effort required to achieve them. With these pieces in hand, the full cost and functionality of the system can be projected and a go/no-go decision can be made. A prototype can communicate the viability and long-term potential far more effectively than any conceptual framework can.

Rapid Prototyping Delivers Forward Starting Points for New Systems

Rapid prototyping enables teams to identify and eliminate redundant or unnecessary features at the earliest stages of development – streamlining the application’s capabilities. The way teams engage with one another too can set the stage for ongoing practices and as they move into full-scale system development. Ultimately, initial prototypes can be used as starting points for full scale deployments.

Use Rapid Prototyping to Move Your Initiatives Forward

Change can be hard. While it may be easy enough to find a game-changing technology, getting everyone to buy into it can be a challenge. By exposing a wide array of stakeholders to the technology and the solution as it is being developed, rapid prototyping can go a long way toward overcoming resistance to transformational change.

Join MicroPact at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo to Learn More

We are going to further explore the topic of how to make transformational change happen at the 2015 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. On “Industry Day,” Sunday, Oct. 4, MicroPact is hosting a panel discussion featuring former federal technology leaders – each a maverick in their respective agencies. The session, “Shifting from Custom to COTS: Managing the Shock of Transformational Business Change” will explore the idea that while transformational change may be technologically feasible, human factors and organizational behavior frequently conspire to slow or stall processes. I hope you will join us.

About the Author

Bob Ragsdale is Director of Marketing at MicroPact. Bob has over 20 years of experience leading the international marketing and branding efforts of software and technology companies at nearly every stage of development.


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