Building a Prototype or Pilot


Building a Prototype.  In order to increase the  validity that your design works you can build a prototype or maybe run a pilot operation. The size of the implementation usually has one of the largest impacts on what will work.  Prototypes are typically required only for larger implementations.  Pilots are used for anything smaller.  There is a slight preference for using pilots since their overhead costs and fixed costs are usually much smaller.

The following sections outline the basic steps to building a prototype.  These are from Teare's book.

Step 1 - Review Customer Requirements.  The executive summary is directed at the key decision makers for the project.  It should be no more than two pages.  Make sure to elucidate benefits that you can offer.

  • Synthesize the customer's requirements for performance, security, capacity and scalability into a short list of the customer's major goals.
  • List ideas for demonstrations you can conduct that will please the customer.
  • List any pitfalls or outcomes to avoid because they could cause a negative reaction.

Step 2 - Determine the Size.  Determine how much of the network structure must be built to sufficiently increase the validity of the design's ability to meet the customer's needs.

Investigate services and tools you can use to simplify the task of purchasing, installing and configuring equipment for a prototype.

Step 3 - What is Your Competition Proposing?  Gain an understanding of what your competition plans to propose.  If possible, work with your account manager to find out any relevant information.  If it isn't possible to get any details, make some assumptions based on the types of products and designs your competition usually develops.

Step 4 - Develop a Test Plan.  Draw a topology map of the test environment.  Include major configuration parameters in the map.

List simulation tools, hardware, software you will need for the prototype.  Include cables, modems, WAN connections, Internet access, workstations, servers, design tools, telephone equipment and so on.

List and plan for any other resources you will need and any help you need from other staff.

Develop a list of the tests and demonstrations you will run.  Make sure to explain at least the following.

  • How each test will prove that the design meets the customer's needs.
  • How each test will will demonstrate improvements over a competitor's designs (if possible)

Write a script for each test or demonstration, including a list of the steps to prove the design and a description of how to avoid pitfalls during the test.

Step 5 - Purchase and Configure Equipment.  Purchase and configure the following equipment.

  • Network simulation tools
  • Hardware and software

Step 6 - Practice.  Make sure to practice demonstrations before you execute them in front of the customer.

Step 7 - Conduct Final Tests and Demonstration.  Finally, you need to actually conduct the tests and demonstration.



Building a Pilot.  This next section gives a very quick outline of the steps involved in building a pilot.

Step 1 - Test the Design.  Make sure you test the design and demonstrate that you meet the customer's specifications and response times.

Step 2 - Investigate the Competition.  Learn more about your competition's usual approaches and try to figure out what they will be proposing,

Step 3 - Script a Demonstration.  In your script for the demonstration, make sure you do at least the following.

  • Make sure the tests will prove that the design meets the customer's needs.
  • Make sure the tests demonstrate your strengths and your competitions weaknesses.

Step 4 - Practice.  Make sure to practice your demonstrations before you execute them in front of a customer.

Step 5 - Schedule and Present the Demonstration.  Actually, give the demonstration.