I remember about 10 years ago, my team and I created a very cool prototype of an application which would provide a three dimensional view into a client’s customer data. The client’s customer was one of the largest cell phone providers in Europe and the purpose of the prototype was to demonstrate our client’s proprietary ability to manage the relationships between physical cell phones, cell phone numbers and end users. This management capability would satisfy the need for auditors to track the physical devices; for accounting to track cell phone bills and for the sales managers to track cell phone numbers.

We built the prototype using ASP Classic and MS Access. Here’s the fun part, our client didn’t operate on Microsoft, they were a Java shop. Therefore, we created the prototype using Microsoft but changed the mime type to jsp. The prototype only “looked” like it was coded in jsp.

We created the prototype for 10,000 USD and it was so successful, the client sold two multi-million-dollar contracts. That’s a great prototype.

Since that project’s success, we’ve built a number of prototypes for clients to prove or disprove the feasibility of a particular project. Developers are famous for saying “Sure, we can do that”. But here at fourmangos, we like to say, “let’s prove it”. Here’s a few anecdotal stories on prototypes that worked or, in some cases, didn’t work.

Gift certificates

The client wanted to implement gift certificates into their subscription-based membership platform. The client was using the Kentico content management system and as experts on the platform, our job was to activate the gift certificate system. To those of you who are familiar with Kentico CMS, you are probably aware of the capabilities of the gift certificate system. To those of you who have ever used digital gift certificates before, let me just say that Kentico doesn’t operate at that level. In fact, the gift certificate functionality was not anywhere near what was necessary for this client’s needs. But Kentico is extensible with its API structure and our team set about building a custom gift certificate platform. After three weeks of effort, we were able to display a future gift certificate platform. More importantly, we were able to demonstrate that Kentico was not the ideal platform for this organization.

Online insurance registration platform

Kentico provides a great drag and drop suite of functionality in its web-based versions. This drag and drop, build-a-website functionality was very attractive for one multi-billion-dollar insurance company, so much so that they purchased the platform without ever seeing a prototype. Once the contract was signed, the insurance company needed to demonstrate the functionality of the platform. The fourmangos team was brought on board to build this new prototype and demonstrate its capabilities. The good news was we were successful in doing so. We tied the insurance company’s registration system to individual widgets within the Kentico platform enabling end insurance agencies the ability to build on the fly insurance registration forms. The bad news, however, was that the client wanted to leverage MVC with Kentico 12. At the time, Kentico 12 MVC did not have the capabilities to deliver the on-demand, API-centric drag and drop functionality. Fortunately, we were able to build a solution that worked exactly how it was intended to, but unfortunately, it did not operate with the drag-and-drop functionality desired by the client. Ideally this engagement could have been prototyped using a developer’s license and we could have saved the insurance company more than 100K in investment.

Fitness tracking system capable of connecting to an online CRM platform

Our client wanted to migrate an existing fitness tracking platform to a new, online CRM platform. The client was set to proceed with the contract with the CRM platform and met with us to perform the execution. Before we had them sign the $500,000 contract, we told them to prototype the project. Six weeks later, we had created a suite of APIs and an API management platform that would provide them a seamless integration of their tracking platform to the CRM. The prototype was deemed a success and the fourmangos team moved forward with developing the full project.

International bank needs an online marketing campaign management tool

Our client wanted to use their existing data to prove the feasibility of introducing an online marketing campaign tool into their marketing operations. The software they were lined up to purchase appeared to work out-of-the-box, but the bank wanted proof before they signed the contract. fourmangos was able to customize the marketing platform, shoehorn in the bank’s data and run campaigns within a week. The bank signed the 2.5-million-dollar deal with the software vendor the following week.

Prototypes are a great step in determining if a larger investment is warranted. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to build the prototype, and prove or deny a proof of concept, before the client makes a large investment.

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