Visualizing perspectives, realizing expectations and engaging everyone with software – 5 things every BA needs to know about interactive prototyping
Interactive, high-fidelity prototypes are a powerful medium for Business Analysts to test assets and interactions – the things that make a software look and feel real – before bringing in the dev team. But with many IT Business Analysts still only using low-fidelity wireframes, a straightforward approach to presenting ideas, the potential of interactive prototypes is often underrated.
However, interactive prototypes can be a credit to BAs looking to communicate a complex requirement to internal teams and external stakeholders, as they offer a visual approach to requirements definition and management and aligning everyone involved in the software’s creation. So, BAs, don’t pass the buck on high fidelity! Read our post for 5 insights into why BAs should be working with interactive prototypes.
1. Capture and manage requirements visually
A substantial portion of the Business Analyst’s role lies in eliciting, confirming and prioritizing business requirements prior to project kickoff. Defining requirements correctly is crucial in the software development life cycle, in order to set realistic expectations with clients and encourage stakeholder sign-off. Without visual resources in the requirements definition process, business objectives and goals are often misunderstood, resulting in delivery delays, stakeholder dissatisfaction and wasted resources.
Interactive prototyping allows BAs to iterate through potential requirements quickly and dynamically. In fact, as BAs dive deeper into requirements definition, interactive prototypes become more and more tangible. They can use them to produce a list of requirements and organize them – filter, customize, add and delete – as the project evolves. This will help to reduce the number of missed requirements.
So BAs, consider including an interactive prototype in the finalization stage of your JAD session to help you capture and validate requirements that address real user problems and propose solutions.
2. Engage stakeholders with real-time requirements validation
Stakeholder validation of business requirements should happen early on and often in the software development life cycle. Luckily, interactive prototyping helps to make requirements validation more visual and engaging for stakeholders.
By capturing requirements visually with an interactive prototype, BAs can demonstrate to clients what is due to happen in each screen and UI element directly within the prototype and reduce the need for hefty spec docs that don’t always show the big picture. They can produce the end-to-end flows of business rules and conditions necessary for the stakeholders to understand how the user journey will pan out – the more intuitive and interactive the better.
Stakeholders can then validate business requirements in real-time from a user-centric perspective with functional prototypes. With a series of click-through prototypes, stakeholders can walk through the requirements step-by-step contextually, taking in the entire user story.
3. Translate business requirements for tech team
Making sure that the technical team understands the business requirements is another job for the BA. Quantifying the needs laid out by stakeholders into technical requirements requires focus, understanding and visual aids – enter interactive prototypes.
Static, low-fidelity prototypes are a good way of communicating ideas quickly and cheaply. They help BAs tell a narrative of what the user and stakeholders expect from the finished software. This is a good starting point, but making sure that everyone – devs and designers included – understands the requirements requires something a little more potent.
High-fidelity prototypes are a great way to keep all teams on the same page regarding requirements, functionality, application process flow, and the UI aspect of the software or application you’re building.
The development team needs to know exactly how the business team has envisioned the look and feel of the software. Once the BA and stakeholders have defined the project scope and uncovered the business requirements with their prototype, and they can recycle the prototype and use it to translate business requirements to the technical team. Stakeholders happy, tech team informed. Tick!
4. Gather early feedback from end users with UX cognitive tests
“Running usability tests on an interactive prototype can avoid the kind of 11th hour headaches that make software designers’ and developers’ blood run cold: last-minute reworks, buggy launches and worse, loss of stakeholder confidence and funds.” Cassandra Naji
BAs know that successful software is ultimately contingent on the user being able to engage with it – without engagement, revenue and branding will suffer. The key to creating engaging software is to test and validate the proposed ideas. Testing outcomes with the users who will eventually interact with the software is a major project success factor. However, it’s a task often neglected by BAs. Luckily, the process is made much easier with interactive prototypes.
Prototyping affords a rare opportunity to test potential solutions with real users, elicit discussion and draw on real feedback – essentially confirming the conceptual maturity of the proposed solution before additional efforts and resources are applied. UX cognitive and usability testing can be performed on interactive prototypes because they so closely mirror the working application.
Become a manager of change
Including an interactive prototype in preliminary user testing phases, such as in the UAT session, will help BAs to understand any proposed changes in real-time, communicate the changes effectively both to the business and tech teams, and ultimately ensure that value is delivered. Some prototyping platforms, such as Justinmind, are actually integrated with online testing tools for a streamlined workflow.
5. Align your business with your teams and users through collaborative prototyping
Being the project middleman, BAs are often expected to bridge the gap between vague client ideas and specific business objectives – all of this while keeping the project afloat and validating business requirements, ouch!
But with an interactive prototype, BAs can be the link that brings different teams, stakeholders and users together to collaborate and make product decisions.
Interactive prototyping helps BAs to centralize teams and external parties around a single prototype. Have multiple users working on the same prototyping simultaneously and pool insights from everyone involved – internal and otherwise. Then, make sure any feedback is securely captured and traced so that it can be interpreted and actioned at the right moment.
Justinmind’s teamwork features encourage collaborative prototyping, with assets synchronization capabilities and version control to ensure that nothing is forgotten or lost. And with Justinmind Enterprise, you can integrate your business requirements and entire team’s tasks with the live prototyping project!
Get in touch with our team to learn more about Justinmind Enterprise and discover the smartest way to manage business analysis tasks.