The Prototyping Model is a systems development method (SDM) in which a prototype (an early approximation of a final system or product) is built, tested, and then reworked as necessary until an acceptable prototype is finally achieved from which the complete system or product can now be developed. This model works best in scenarios where not all of the project requirements are known in detail ahead of time. It is an iterative, trial-and-error process that takes place between the developers and the users.
There are several steps in the Prototyping Model:
- The new system requirements are defined in as much detail as possible. This usually involves interviewing a number of users representing all the departments or aspects of the existing system.
- A preliminary design is created for the new system.
- A first prototype of the new system is constructed from the preliminary design. This is usually a scaled-down system, and represents an approximation of the characteristics of the final product.
- The users thoroughly evaluate the first prototype, noting its strengths and weaknesses, what needs to be added, and what should to be removed. The developer collects and analyzes the remarks from the users.
- The first prototype is modified, based on the comments supplied by the users, and a second prototype of the new system is constructed.
- The second prototype is evaluated in the same manner as was the first prototype.
- The preceding steps are iterated as many times as necessary, until the users are satisfied that the prototype represents the final product desired.
- The final system is constructed, based on the final prototype.
- The final system is thoroughly evaluated and tested. Routine maintenance is carried out on a continuing basis to prevent large-scale failures and to minimize downtime.
Also see systems development method (SDM).