Prototype development (alpha)

Date adopted: 
August 16, 2020
Last update: 
November 3, 2020

We develop prototypes of our services and websites in this stage of development.

Building a prototype is important because it enables you to:

  • find problems with the design of your service;
  • come up with solutions to address the problems;
  • estimate how much it will cost to build from end-to-end;
  • understand what it will take to operate; and
  • identify risks and dependencies that may not have come up in discovery.

What to do in prototype development (alpha)

  • Produce a build schedule if the decision is made to proceed with the beta phase. This should include project dates and other milestones.
  • Select and procure a vendor.
  • Vendor kick-off.
  • Design or code a prototype of the service or website. Start with whiteboard sketches or paper prototypes and progress to a basic working system with limited functionality you can demonstrate to users. These prototypes need to allow a complete end-to-end transaction, no matter how rough they may be. Show how your prototype accommodates different users.
  • Plan user testing. Complete the analysis on the user needs research you've done. Develop a list of external and internal users who will test the service during the this phase. Include those who need assisted digital support. Test on a variety of devices and platforms.
  • Identify accessibility issues and barriers.
  • Measure user needs
  • Change management

How long prototype development takes

Most project teams spend 4 to 6 weeks on prototype development.

Team roles needed for prototype development

Keep your project team consistent through all design and delivery phases. This ensures the successful delivery of your service or website.

Department that owns the service or website

  • Service owner. Responsible for ongoing delivery of the service or website by their department. Will have strategic decision-making authority.
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) from the department. Familiar with the delivery of the existing service or website.
  • Project manager. Responsible for managing the project schedule, scope, and budget.

Some teams may also need:

  • Business analyst. Responsible for analyzing current business process and aiding the service owner when required.


  • Service delivery manager. Responsible for following the standard, leading service maturity assessments and managing project-related contracts.
  • Service design manager. Responsible for leading discovery and ensuring what gets designed is aligned with the overall eServices strategy and user experience.
  • Web architect. Responsible for the technical architecture and implementation of the service.

Moving onto the beta phase

Once eServices has completed or approved the prototype development (alpha) service maturity assessment, you can move on to beta. Make sure that your timelines, scope, and vision align with your budget and team.

Start working on a business case and funding proposal. The department service owner will submit this to their organization’s stakeholders for review and approval.