Start the Revolution: Prototyping Helps Developers Get it Right
Michael Overend | April 11, 2014
Prototyping, the iterative modeling of a system, enables users to be actively involved in the development process. The methodology, which provides a working model of the system in support of the development process, allows errors, missing functionality and confusing or difficult functions to be detected early, reducing risk of sub-optimal ROI on the finished project. In addition, prototyping provides users with a greater sense of involvement, leading to increased organizational visibility, stakeholder buy-in and funding.
Though prototyping software is widely available, all solutions are not created equal. What if it can’t represent something your real solution can support? What if it allows you to do something your real tool does differently? And what if—at the end of the prototyping effort—you’re left with something that still needs to be translated and configured into the real tool? The whole purpose of prototyping is to reduce the risk of getting it wrong, but if third-party prototyping software presents you with developmental hurdles, the chances of getting it right can be slim.
Many prototyping solutions utilize so-called “throwaway” methodology, in which a model is created, only to be eventually discarded. The steps involved are typically:
- Write preliminary requirements
- Design the prototype
- Modify prototype based on user testing
- Repeat as many times as necessary
- Write final requirements
- Discard the prototype
- Develop a production-ready system
While useful for generating feedback from end users, throwaway prototyping can result in significant duplication of efforts – as well as several common problems described on Intelligence On Tap.
End-User Issues: A prototype is a work in progress. It will evolve throughout each stage of the project and, in the case of a throwaway prototype, be scrapped entirely. However, many users will view a prototype as a near-complete model, drawing inaccurate conclusions on features that are meant to be changed. Or they may assume that the prototype is near complete, and features shown will be included in the final system on day 1.
Developer Issues: It can be difficult for developers to focus on a holistic view of the completed project when still working on the prototype. Rather than using the prototype as a tool to assist in a proper analysis, they can easily get caught up in insignificant minutiae of the prototype itself, wasting time and resulting in a final project that doesn’t meet proper architectural standards.
Efficiency Issues: Developers must strike a balance between developing a prototype that is only half-baked and one that is near completion. An effective prototype should be developed quickly and assist in fine-tuning the finished product. It is only when these requirements are met that a prototype can be considered successful and if they aren’t, productivity and efficiency are sacrificed.
Fortunately, there’s a different way. Utilized in some modern policy administration solutions, evolutionary prototyping allows for the structured building and refinement of prototypes into finished software; the first prototype represents Version 1 of the application, and each subsequent iteration gets you closer to the production-ready version of the system.
This technique allows the development team to routinely add features and make changes that couldn't be conceived during the requirements and design phase. Do your users ever change their mind about what they want once they see it built based on their specs? Of course they do! So why not begin the project with the ability to adapt to inevitable changes?
Evolutionary prototyping is even more valuable when combined with robust configuration tools. This combination lets any user on the carrier side make changes to nearly anything—a page, an item, a coverage, a rule, page flow order or a user interface layout feature—then immediately review it in the end-user test environment. Don’t like it? Change it. Do like it? Keep it; it’s ready for use with no translation, no reconfiguring, and no coding. It's really as simple as that.
While common and traditional in the creation of core insurance systems, throwaway prototyping methodology presents a number of challenges and hurdles to efficient development. However, more and more IT departments are leveraging evolutionary prototyping methodology in order to minimize both delivery time and cost. Under this methodology, completed work becomes part of the finished system, rather than waste on the metaphorical cutting-room floor. You could say, in fact, that it’s not just evolutionary. It’s revolutionary.
Michael J. Overend, vice president of operations and customer support at Adaptik Corporation, is responsible for managing and improving the company’s operational systems, processes and policies, as well as ensuring efficient communication between clients, consultants and support staff. Overend, who has more than 22 years of insurance system development experience, also plays a significant role in Adaptik’s long-term planning, with a focus on operational excellence.
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Adaptik Named Among Best Workplaces 2017 List
- Guidewire Launches Accelerators to Meet Consumer Applications
- New Platform Enables DRC Customers to Conduct 6,000,000+ Ratings an Hour
- Roost Unveils Next Gen Smart Home Products
- MetLife Auto & Home Offers Digital Products via Guidewire
- Solartis Releases Rating Micro Service with ISO Electronic Rating Content
- Majesco Announces Digital Engagement and Microservices Platform as a Service
- Franklin Mutual Adds Roost Home Telematics Solutions
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA is pleased to present the 2014 Webinar Series. We have many topics for you to choose from and attendance is open to all ITA members. The webinar topics are current and exciting — ranging from predictive analytics to telematics and will focus on the direction insurance carriers need to follow for the future. All webinars are presented by insurance IT professionals along with some of the leading analysts and consultants in the field. There is no cost to attend an ITA webinar. For more information and to register for the webinar, click the “title” of the webinar below.
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
Robert Regis Hyle
Insurance has gone through several business and technology cycles in the last two decades and with the infusion of not just insurtech tools but with... READ MORE
The whole transportation sector is in for massive transformation. The way people and goods will be moved from point A to point B in the future will be... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
The core systems replacement cycle is speeding up. Twenty years ago, even if you spent your entire career working at the same insurance company, you... READ MORE
- Partner News