Reflections On Early Requirements Gathering Themes From Analyst-Client Conversations Cathy Urquhart University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Outline of presentation Communication as the basis for early requirements gathering. Case study design. Themes from the case studies. Conclusions Communication as the basis for early requirements gathering The determination of requirements is founded on human communication which takes place in a social context. Language is the basis for communication, and is the expression of interactive procedures working amongst various social, contextual and epistemological factors. Candlin 1984 The Case Studies Six cases of early requirements gathering from public sector agencies in Tasmania, Australia. Several data sources. initial paragraph. individual interviews. videotaped interaction and review Analysis using grounded theory techniques, topics, and themes. Themes Conceptual. Issues To Be Discussed, Scope Of System, Problem Identification, Processes Associated With System, Information Input To System, Information Output From System, Links In Information. Social. Professional Relationships, Mutual Understanding. Themes Environmental. Organisational Context, Future Action and Solutions. Individual. Personal Disclosures, Analyst Understanding Of Processes, Notetaking, Use Of Props. Problem Identification Consists of „labelling‟ the problem at a general level, to be distinguished from „problem setting‟ where the problem characterised in terms that aid its solution. Schön 1983 In the majority of cases, analysts framed the problem in terms of information, the clients in terms of processes. Problem Identification - Client Client: Now, there‟s something I just thought of, a little bit of a problem..it‟s measuring backlog. Would it be possible, if somebody had ten applications in their in tray.. Some had been there for a day, some had been there for three days, some had been there for ten days. Can we have a system which adds all those numbers up? To give a measurement of who‟s furthest behind? Analyst: We can Problem Identification - Analyst Analyst: ..what information do you want to get out of this system? Do you have to do reports and things like that? Client: Yes. So we need to have (flipping through notepad) ..I‟m just thinking about which reports you want to get started with. Analyst: Well, it depends on what you want to get out of the system.. Links In Information Identified by analysts at organisation wide and key level. Can be seen as a particular systems analysis strategy which aids problem solution. Can also be likened to Schön‟s (1983) notion of an „on-the-spot-experiment‟. Consistent with analysts‟ information focus. Links in Information Analyst: “OK, so when you put in the summary information you put in, you put in the number, ..does each number..apply to each application?” Client: “yes it does” Analyst: “so you sort of have another code number or something for each applicant that gets put into the database?” Client: “It‟s not, its not a reference to the stu(dent), the moment it can‟t be referenced to any individual student..” Notetaking A subject which receives scant treatment and contradictory advice from systems analysis textbooks. Hoffer, George and Valacich (1999) Whitten, Bentley and Barlow (1994) Jordan and Machesky (1990) Powers, Cheney and Crow (1990) Martin (1994), Kendall and Kendall (1995). Remarks made by analysts show the value of „reflection-in-action‟ (Schön 1983) Notetaking „I just need to say something, and I‟ve been laughing to myself about this, its actually quite interesting the interaction between us, here I am madly scribing. I‟m not actually looking at my client through most of the interview and I‟ve never really thought about it before, but..all they are doing is just looking at my head and every now and then then I pop up..‟ Conclusions Themes as presented here are derived from situations of uniqueness, from which practitioners may construct theories and methods of their own. (Schön 1983) The situations themselves can be seen as varying the themes and provide a jumping off point for discussion of further situations and extension of themes. Value of themes is in making the implicit issues explicit.
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