The Agile Dilemma, Is your Project Truly Agile if you use a Prototype?
Agile methods are a hot topic in commercial information technology and are commonly used to describe any type of technology development with the goal of delivering software into the hands of users as soon as possible. The first point is that this is not a new concept that has emerged in recent years due to the speed of technology development. As far back as the 1970s new software development techniques were developed to replace thewaterfall method because it had long lag times between the system request and the delivery of the final product. Agile focus is on business value, adaptability, high customer involvement, and the frequent delivery of production quality software delivering solutions that are faster, cheaper and more responsive to user needs than traditional methods.
Agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning and it is argued that Agile software development has nothing to do with prototyping. At the end of each cycle an agile project creates NOT a prototype, but a production ready application which provides real business value.
Rapid feedback means getting something in front of the user as quickly as possible. This means that prototypes that can be quickly put together have great value in terms of soliciting user feedback. User interface prototyping is still feasible in Agile development, prototyping can be used effectively to communicate design, get early user feedback, and reduce development effort. If you can find an effective solution to quickly developing a prototype, then it should be an important component of your project whether it follows an Agile methodology or not.