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Types

After defining the purpose and setting the attributes of your prototype, you are ready to pick the right prototyping tool! In prototyping of processes and services we distinguish between prototyping of functional characteristics ("What happens?") and qualitative characteristics of a process / service ("How does it happen?"). A functional prototype helps you to display the sequence of steps of a process or service, roles, locations, coherences and the logic behind it. Examples are:

  • Process model
  • Flow chart
  • Sequence diagram
  • Service / process blueprint

A qualitative process / service prototype helps you to display the quality (look & feel) of each single step or a sequence of steps. Examples are:

  • Storyboard
  • Metaphoric model
  • Realistic visualization / 3D renderings
  • Visual storytelling video / screencast
  • Process / service simulation

Q & A

  • When shall I use physical prototypes and when virtual prototypes? Often it makes sense to let a team set up a LEGO® model of the process. This is the easiest and fastest way to come up with an easily changeable model which includes roles of persons, subjects and locations. Later, the model may be transferred into a digital model which is more clean and easier to communicate. In outward communication it also looks a bit more professional.
  • Why shall I invest time in 3D prototypes at all? Especially the first steps in process prototyping are characterised by a lot of adjustments and changes. This is easily done with representative objects which can be manually combined and respositioned instantly. Too, the effect that we can touch, feel and modify often enables a better understanding.

Tools

We use the following tools to build process / service prototypes in Business Design projects:

ToolComment
Role PlayAs easy as it is, sometimes playing a process through with others is sufficient to quickly analyze simple processes or to better communicate an service idea.
Symbolic magnetsA magnet board with symbolic magnets combined with white board markers helps to quickly draft a process / service.
LEGO® Serious PlayA special edition of LEGO with a selection of bricks and elements which are suitable for process / service prototyping.
Sweet Home 3DEasy setting up of buildings and interiors with nice libraries of useful shapes. Easy and fast to work with.
BlenderPositioning and rendering of settings. Drafts from Sweet Home 3D can easily be importet and rendered.
FreeCADIn case the process / service prototype needs to show individually designed products, these can be designed in FreeCAD and then easily be imported into the setting in Blender.
Powerpoint / KeynoteGood for quick 2D sketches and flow charts. Suitable for first drafts which may still be very abstract.
VideoScribeSoftware to create professional video animations
SimplefilmA small company producing short movies to display complex context in an easy and entertaining way. Interesting for developing storyboards.

Examples

LEGO® Serious Play - Functional prototype



Rendering - Qualitative prototype

Having started with a LEGO model or going directly to a rather realistic process visualization we can use a combination of Sweet Home 3D (good libraries for shapes such as furniture and people) and Blender (surface textures, custom objects and lighting). Existing CAD models can easily be included.

Above, a process of customised furniture ordering and manufacturing can be visualized in only very few steps. A customer scans the location where a customised piece of furniture is needed and customizes the furniture by a VR software. The order is taken in real time, the components of, in this case a shelf, are manufactured and packaged to be sent to the customer.

This type of virtual visualization allows quick adjustments while providing a clear picture.


Magnet board



[Foto einer Prozessdarstellung mit Magneten und farbigen Markern]







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