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A Guide to Computer User Support - PowerPoint

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					       Chapter 9

User Needs Analysis and
      Assessment
                         Learning Objectives

• Basic strategies to perform user needs analysis
    and assessment
•   Major steps an analyst undertakes to analyze and
    assess a user’s needs
•   Common tools that aid a support specialist in a
    user needs analysis project


Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                  2
     Overview of User Needs Analysis
             and Assessment
• Purpose: determine which computer products or services
    best meet end-user needs
•   Strategy:
    • understand a user’s environment and work situation
    • clarify the problem or objectives
    • investigate alternative solutions
    • decide on a solution to meet the user’s needs
    • decide whether to purchase or build
• Process can be formal or informal
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                         3
              Examples of Typical Needs
                 Assessment Projects
• Select components
    • Choose a computer system
    • Choose a peripheral to add to an existing system
    • Choose an application software package
    • Choose an office network
• Select services
    • Choose a training program
    • Choose an Internet service provider (ISP)
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                       4
                      Three Phases in
                   Needs Analysis Process
•     Preparation Phase
        • Goal is to understand the problem, goals, decision criteria,
           stakeholders and information needed for a project
•     Investigation Phase
        • Goal is to understand the present situation and alternatives to
           it
•     Decision Phase
        • Goal is to develop a model of a proposed system and decide
           whether to build it or buy it




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                       5
                        User Needs Analysis
                          Steps and Tasks




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e            6
          Step One: Understand the
       Personal or Organizational Goals
• What is the environment into which the future system
   will fit?
    • Purposes of the organization
    • For-profit or not-for-profit
    • Plans for growth or expansion
    • Attitude about technology (organizational culture)
    • Budget for computer systems and services
    • Staff expertise

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                         7
            Step Two: Understand the
          Decision Criteria and Constraints
• What criteria will impact the decision?
• Is this project feasible?
• Feasibility investigates the constraints that will impact
   this project
    • Economic feasibility
          • Budget constraints
    • Operational feasibility
          • Impact on other systems and personnel
    • Technological feasibility
          • State of technology
    • Timeline feasibility
          • Time constraints
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                            8
                     Step Three: Define the
                        Problem Clearly
•   What is the real problem that needs to be solved by this project?
•   Ask probing questions
     •   Not all problems are technical
     •   Some problems are organizational
                 •   Personnel
                 •   Workflow
                 •   Training
                 •   Politics
                 •   Management
                 •   Resources
     •   Do not assume that a user has correctly analyzed the problem
•   Observe the user in his or her environment
•   Consider solutions other than obvious ones
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                      9
                    Step Four: Identify the
                     Roles of Stakeholders
• Who will be impacted by this project?
• A stakeholder is a participant in a needs analysis
    project who has a substantial interest in the successful
    outcome of the project
•   Four kinds of stakeholders
    •   Users
    •   Managers
    •   Support analysts
    •   Information Technology or Technical Support Staff
    •   Can vendors be stakeholders in a project? What is their role?



Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                      10
                      Step Five: Identify
                     Sources of Information
• What sources of information are needed to analyze user
   needs?
    • Interviews with end users and managers
    • Surveys or questionnaires sent to end users
    • Procedure manuals that describe the current system
    • Direct observation of the existing situation
    • Forms used for input into the existing system
    • Reports output from the existing system
    • Problem reports or help desk logs
    • Reports and recommendations from consultants or auditors
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                               11
                                                             continued
     Step Six: Develop an Understanding
            of the Existing System
•   How does the existing system work?
•   A model is a narrative and/or graphic diagram that describes the
    current system or situation
    •   A model can aid an analyst’s understanding
    •   A model can be shared with stakeholders to verify understanding
•   Three key questions in Step Six:
    1. Do I understand the existing system well enough to explain its
       operation to others?
    2. Do I understand which features of the existing system users like?
    3. Do I under what users think is wrong with existing system?


Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                         12
    Step Seven: Investigate Alternatives
           to the Existing System
•   How can the existing system or situation be fixed?
• Add resources
    •   Technical: additional equipment
    •   Organizational: additional personnel, budget, time, priority
• Change resources
    •   Reinstall or reconfigure software
    •   Provide different user training
• Upgrades
    •   Improve processing speed, storage capacity, compatibility
    •   Offer new features that address identified problems

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                         13
                                                                       continued
 Step Seven: Investigate Alternatives
  to the Existing System (continued)
• New hardware
    • Resolve capacity constraints
    • Run software efficiently
    • Operate new software
• New software
    • Packaged, off-the-shelf software
    • Custom-developed software
    • New software that can be modified

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e        14
 Step Seven: Where to Find Alternatives
    to the Existing System (continued)
• Sources of products and solutions that address specific
   organizational needs
    • Trade publications
    • Options other organizations use successfully in similar
        situations
    •   Advertisements in trade periodicals
    •   Internet searches




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                              15
  Step Eight: Develop a Model of the
           Proposed System
• What features would a new system or solution offer?
• Build a model of the proposed system or solution
    • Includes pros and cons of each alternative considered
    • Answer the questions:
       –Why is proposed solution an improvement to the existing
           one?
          –Why is this the best available alternative?


Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                16
     Step Eight: Develop a Model of the
        Proposed System (continued)
• Kinds of solutions
   • An optimal solution is the best one
   • A satisficing solution is one that solves the problem, but is not
       necessarily the best solution
• A cost-benefit analysis is a comparison between
  a solution’s expenses and its payoffs to an
  organization
   • Useful tool to
         • Analyze a solution
         • Compare solutions
  Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                     17
                                     Step 8 Tips

• A cost-benefit analysis is not an exact science with right
    or wrong answers
•   For a small project, even an informal cost-benefit
    analysis is useful
•   Users’ needs should drive the specifications for a new
    system
•   Software specifications are usually more important than
    hardware specifications, and should be developed first

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                            18
                   Step Nine: Make a
               Build-versus-Buy Decision
• Should the new system or solution be built or
    purchased?
• Build-versus-buy decision
     • a decision to build a new system internally or purchase one off
         the shelf
     •   applies primarily to software (but can also apply to hardware,
         software, or complete systems)
• Turnkey system is an integrated packaged solution that
    provides hardware, software, and support from a single
    vendor
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                    19
            Step Nine: Advantages of
           Build versus Buy (continued)




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e        20
                         Needs Analysis
                      and Assessment Tools
• Project charter
• Cost-benefit analysis
• Data collection instruments
• Charts and diagrams
• Prototyping software
• Other tools


Guide to Computer User Support, 3e           21
                                Project Charter
• A project charter is a short narrative statement that
   describes the objectives, scope, methods, participants,
   deliverables, and timeline
    • A deliverable is the end result of a needs analysis project
          • Analysis of alternatives
          • Feasibility report
          • Recommendation
          • Build versus buy decision
• High level overview of a project
• Promotes a common understanding among all
   stakeholders

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                  22
            Example of a Project Charter




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e         23
                       Cost-benefit Analysis
• Weighs the benefits of each alternative solution
    against the costs of each alternative
•   Kinds of benefits
     • Tangible: benefits that are relatively easy to quantify
           • Example: increased worker productivity (output divide by
              input)
     • Intangible benefit is an expected result from a
         computer acquisition that is difficult to quantify
           • Example: increased worker morale

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                      24
          Cost-Benefit Analysis Factors




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e            25
                                          continued
             Data Collection Instruments

• Input forms
• Output forms
• Procedure documentation
• Operating or problem logs
• Interviews with users
• User questionnaires
• Direct observation
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e         26
                                     Input Forms

• Input form is a paper document or display screen image
   used to collect information about a business transaction
    • Also called a source document
• Examples
    • Payroll timecards
    • Problem log
    • Membership application
    • Expense account record

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                            27
                Example of an Input Form




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e         28
                                     Output Forms

• Output forms are documents that contain the results of
    a business process
•   Examples
    • Grocery store sales receipt
    • Paycheck stub
    • Grade report



Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                         29
                Procedure Documentation

• Procedure documentation is written instructions about
    how to perform a business transaction or handle a
    routine business process
•   Often used to train a new worker or answer frequently
    asked questions about transaction processing problems
•   Examples
    • Manual on how to process orders in a copy shop
    • Operations manual in a bank or credit union

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                          30
              Operating or Problem Logs

• A log is a list of events or activities recorded in
   the sequence the events occur
    • Routine, periodic event information
    • Unusual events, errors, problems, complaints
• Examples
    • Log of inventory shortages in Shipping and Receiving
    • Log of problems encountered with a new software package

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                              31
          Interviews and Questionnaires

• Used to collect relevant information from users
    • About the work they do
    • How an existing or proposed computer system might affect
        their work
• Require care to design so that they:
    • Extract information that is clear and unambiguous
    • Elicit information needed by an analyst
• Example
    •   Survey on user satisfaction with computer support services

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                   32
      Interviews versus Questionnaires

• Interview Advantage
          –Interviewer can probe to learn details of issues that are of
             special interest
• Interview Disadvantage
          –Takes more time than a questionnaire
• Questionnaire Advantage
          –Ability to survey a larger group at a lower cost
• Questionnaire Disadvantage
          –Difficult to phrase unambiguous questions
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                        33
                     Open-ended Questions

• An open-ended question is one where the respondents
    answer using their own words instead of predetermined
    responses
•   Advantage
    • Responses are not forced into predefined categories
• Challenges
    • Require care to design questions
    • Take longer to complete
    • More difficult to tabulate results
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                          34
                  Forced-choice Questions

• In a forced-choice question, respondents must choose
    from predetermined response categories
•   Advantage
     • Faster to administer (check boxes)
     • Easier to tabulate results
• Challenges
     • Difficult to frame questions to match each user’s personal
        experiences and frame-of-reference
•   Also called closed-choice or fixed-choice

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                  35
          Strategies for Question Design

• Use a team to design questions
• Field test on small sample of users
• A focus group is a small representative group of
   selected users
    • An alternative to surveying a large number of users
    • Interaction among users may generate ideas that would not
        occur in one-on-one interviews or questionnaires




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                36
                           Direct Observation
• Direct observation involves watching users work
    • Powerful method of data collection
          • when other forms of data collection aren’t possible
          • to supplement other forms of data collection
•   Plan sufficient time
•   Take notes on:
    •   What users do
    •   Sequence of tasks
    •   Tools and strategies they use
    •   With whom they interact
    •   Where they store information

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                37
                        Charts and Diagrams
• Used to show:
    • Flow of information in an organization
    • Relationships between workers
    • Parts of an information system
    • Workflow among employees
• Often easier to read and understand than lengthy,
    technical narrative
•   Common types of charts used in needs analysis
    • Flowcharts
    • I-P-O charts
Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                    38
                                     Flowchart

• A flowchart is a schematic diagram that use symbols to
   represent the parts of a system or the steps in a
   procedure
    • Rectangular boxes:    Departments in a company, nodes on a
        network, processing steps a worker performs
    •   Diamonds: Decision points or questions
    •   Lines: Relationship of parts or a sequence of processing steps




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                   39
                      Example of Flowchart




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e           40
                                     I-P-O Chart

• An I-P-O Chart is a diagram that represents Input,
    Processing, and Output steps required to perform a task
•   Answers three fundamental questions about a procedure
    • Input: Where do I get the information with which to work?
    • Processing: What do I do to transform the information?
    • Output: What do I do with the information when processing is
        completed?




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                               41
                   Example of I-P-O Chart




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e          42
                       Prototyping Software
• Prototype is a working model a support analyst builds
    to let users evaluate how the finished product of an
    analysis project will actually work
•   Advantage
     • Easy, quick, cost-effective compared with finished product
     • Easy to make changes
•   Limitation
     • Usually operates slowly or has limited capacity for data
       storage
•   Example
     •   Use of Microsoft Access to design a data entry form for help desk
         problem incidents

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                           43
         Other Needs Assessment Tools
• Benchmarks (see Chapter 8)
• Weighted point comparisons (see Chapter 8)
• Project management software helps project leaders
   organize the tasks in a large project, set priorities,
   establish project costs, and schedule resources.
    • Appropriate for large-scale needs assessment and development
        projects that will involve a number of users, analysts, and
        steps
    •   (see Chapter 7)




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                                    44
                            Chapter Summary

• A needs assessment project is a sequence of steps
   designed to obtain relevant information from end
   users and help them make an informed decision
   about computer purchases or processing
   procedures




Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                45
         Chapter Summary (continued)
Major steps in needs analysis and assessment process
• Preparation phase
    1: Understand the user’s goals
    2: Understand the decision criteria and constraints
    3: Define the problem clearly
    4: Identify the roles of stakeholders
    5: Identify sources of information
•   Investigation phase
    6: Develop an understanding of the existing situation
    7: Investigate alternatives to the existing situation
•   Decision phase
    8: Develop a model of the proposed solution
    9: Make a build-versus-buy decision

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                          46
          Chapter Summary (continued)
• User support analysts use a variety of tools as
   information acquisition and decision aids in a needs
   analysis project
    •   Input forms
    •   Output forms
    •   Procedure documentation
    •   Operating or problem logs
    •   Interviews with users
    •   User questionnaires
    •   Focus groups
    •   Direct observation
    •   Benchmarks
    •   Weighted Point Evaluations
    •   Project Management Software

Guide to Computer User Support, 3e                        47

				
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