The Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG) blog lists 10 things you can do now to jump your product management skills.
Skill number 5 is interesting because lately I've been infusing prototypes into several new projects.
5. Develop your prototyping skills. Check out tools like Axure (see www.axure.com) and learn how to use them. Create a prototype for an idea you have. Test this prototype on some target users.
Here's a workflow I designed a couple years ago for creating visual requirements instead of ill-fated paper specs.
How does it work? Use a prototyping tool like Axure, show your stakeholders the high-fidelity prototype, capture the feedback in a Wiki. After you have a visual contract with the customer, give the prototype and final specs to your development team. The benefits? Well, there are many. Reduced rework should be plenty motivation. Innovation and industry-leading products are two more.
Marty Cagan, principal at SVPG, explains in his book, Inspired: How to Create Product Customers Love, the ways a prototype will help your product development team.
Perhaps companies that are developing new products should take a cue from Venture Capital firms. In many cases, VCs won't provide the next round of funding until they see a working prototype. Today, given the low entry costs for prototypes and the financial rewards of innovation, there's every reason for building prototypes and empowering your team with that sage advice — Look before you code.