An investigation of information systems prototyping
This thesis is concerned with the use of prototyping during the
development of information systems. Prototyping is a process which
involves early practical demonstration of relevant parts of the desired
system. This is carried out with a view to improving both the quality and
timeliness of the target system. The quality of an information system is
largely determined by its adequacy as a tool for human users. Prototyping
serves to enhance the communication between developers and users, and
through this to increase the suitability of the resulting information
An investigation into the traditional phase oriented approach to systems
development reveals that in certain circumstances it can result in
incorrect or at best disappointing systems. The prototyping approach is
examined as a possible alternative. Particular attention is paid to its use
with respect to typical characteristics of information systems. This is
followed by an investigation into all aspects of prototyping.
One aspect, that of the construction of prototypes, is dealt with separately
and includes an examination of a variety of tools and techniques. Three
of these approaches form part of an experiment in building prototypes.
Each method is used to build prototypes of the same system. This
provides the opportunity to compare approaches in terms of time, cost,
and ease of maintenance, with the existing system.
Prototyping is used during the development of a genuine system in a
commercial environment. Special consideration is given to both the
organisation and the control of prototyping. This project is closely
monitored and documented in detail. In conclusion, recommendations
are made concerning the use of prototyping during information systems
development. Further research areas are also highlighted.