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Fact Finding Techniques

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1 Fact Finding Techniques
IS8080 Dr. Mario Guimaraes Today’s lecture will discuss Database Plannings, some guidelines on how to select a DBMS, selec CASE (Computer Assisted Software Engineering) and Fact Finding in order to do a good Conceptual Design

2 Fact Finding Formal process of using techniques such as interviews and questionnaires to collect facts about systems, requirements, and preferences. This is the first step we must do before designing a Database, Database Application or any Software Application Next we will analyze Fact Finding. When creating a Database or Developing a New software the first phase (even before Conceptual or Logical Design) is to do fact finding (or also called requirements analysis). There are many different techniques to find out what the user needs: interviews, questionnaires, document gathering, etc. We will discuss them in the next slides.

3 Fact-Finding Techniques
Database developer normally uses several fact-finding techniques during a single database project including: examining documentation, interviewing, Group interview, JAD observing organization in operation, research, questionnaires. Which method above is the most commonly used ? Although companies usually use a combination of two or more methods from the list above, interviewing is the most popular.

4 Documents Documents refer to gathering existing forms, reports and other documents that the company currently uses to operate the business that we are trying to automate. These documents may be manually generated or from an existing Information Systems that we are trying to improve. The idea behind Documents is that by knowing the Input and the Output, one can figure out the process.

5 Most commonly used, and normally most useful, fact-finding technique.
Interviews Most commonly used, and normally most useful, fact-finding technique. Enables collection of information from individuals face-to-face. Objectives include finding out facts, verifying facts, clarifying facts, generating enthusiasm, getting end-user involved, identifying requirements, and gathering ideas and opinions. Interviews, like I said in a previous slide, is the most popular. It is very flexible and enables the interviewer to adapt as needed. The face-to-face provides insights that otherwise it wouldn’t be possible. The interviewer can alter the nature of the interview as they feel necessary.

6 Interview: Advantage/Disadvantage
Here is a summary of the adv/disadv. of interview. Of course, the success of the interview also depends on how prepared the interviewer is.

7 Structured – Close ended questions Unstructured – Open ended questions
Types of Interviews Structured – Close ended questions Unstructured – Open ended questions

8 Selecting Interviewees: who to interview
Phases in an Interview Selecting Interviewees: who to interview Designing Interview Questions: open ended, closed ended questions, etc. Preparing for the Interview Conducting the Interview Post-Interview Follow-up It is important that we know who to interview. Frequently, to satisfy both technical and political problems, we need to interview the person who is formally in charge as well as the person who really knows/does the work. In designing interview questions it is important that we find the right balance between open ended such as “What do you think needs improvement in the current system” and closed ended questions such as “Is the maximum discount that a customer can have 5 or 10% ? In the next slides we will also look at Preparing, Conducting and Post-Interview

9 Preparing for an Interview
Prepare General Interview Plan List of Question Anticipated Answers and Follow-Ups Confirm Areas of Knowledge Set Priorities in Case of Time Shortage Prepare the Interviewee Schedule Inform of Reason for Interview Inform of Areas of Discussion Before going to interview a client, the interviewer should develop a list of questions as well as follow-up questions for antecipated answers. Such as, if the user responds with X to question Y, I will follow up with question Z . It is important that the inteviewee is informed why they are being interviewed as well as the areas of discussion. This will allow the inverviewee to feel more comfortable and not only be more collaborative with the interview, but have a better feeling of the project.

10 Conducting an Interview
Appear professional and unbiased Record all information Check on organizational policy regarding tape recording Be sure you understand all issues and terms Separate facts from opinions Give interviewee time to ask questions Be sure to thank the interviewee End on time Tips: Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Pay Attention, Summarize Key Points, Be Succinct, Be Honest, Watch Body Language The interviewer should ask unbiased questions such as “Do you think that the current system serves its purpose well” instead of “Why do you think the system is no good”. Tape recording may be an interesting option. However, one must check if it doesn’t go against the company’s policy as well as ask if the interviewee doesn’t mind. One should also be political about taping. Should say that there time is very important and taping would reduce the number of questions that you may ask later INSTEAD of saying that you are taping to make sure they don’t change there mind. Separate facts from opinions. A frequent opinion of the intervewee is that he/she is overloaded with work. It is important that the interviewer shows the interviewee self-confidence. If the interviewer shows signs of fear or lack of enthusiasm, the interviewee will feel the same

11 Prepare Interview Notes Prepare Interview Report
Post Interview Prepare Interview Notes Prepare Interview Report Look for Gaps and New Questions It is important to write down a summary of the interview ASAP. If one takes too long to do so, one might forget important parts of the interview.

12 Effective technique for understanding system.
Observation Effective technique for understanding system. Possible to participate in, or watch, a person perform activities to learn about system. Useful when validity of data collected is in question or when complexity of certain aspects of system prevents clear explanation by end-users. Example: studying how a student learns through VERBAL PROTOCOLS. For complex tasks, an interesting technique may be observing the professional perform their regular activities and observe some intrinsic characteristics that can’t be observed otherwise. In certain scenarios, one may want to apply VERBAL PROTOCOLS. In Verbal Protocols, one tries to go inside the mind of somebody that is performing a certain task. To do this, we must encourage them to think aloud. There is literature on how to best do this.

13 Adv./Dis. Of Observation
A main problem with Verbal Protocols is that people react different when they are being observed. Therefore it is crucial that you explain to the person being observed that they are not the subject of the evaluation. They are just being observed in order to improve the process. Nevertheless, my experience is that some people will still not believe you, while some people will. It is preferred that more spontaneous individuals are chosen for observation. Also, you must check on the laws, IRB, and normally it is required that the person who is being observed signs a waiver agreeing to it.

14 Research Research is an interesting option also. Suppose you are going to develop a stock market analysis program or a point of sale program. A quick way to find out about the subject (even before you interview the client) is to download and run software similar to the one you want to design and implement.

15 Two types of questions, namely free-format and fixed-format.
Questionnaires Conduct surveys through questionnaires – special-purpose documents that allow facts to be gathered from a large number of people while maintaining some control over their responses. Two types of questions, namely free-format and fixed-format. Questionnaires allow us to reach a huge number of individuals. When we are referring to questionnaires, we are not referring to questions that can be elaborated for the interview, but questions that are sent alone.

16 Questionnaires Questionnaires lack flexibility and they typically have a very low response rate.

17 one user may get idea from other user. Avoids redundancy in interview
JAD or Group Interview ADVANTAGES one user may get idea from other user. Avoids redundancy in interview Saves interviewer’s time DISADVANTAGE one user hogs conversation hierarchical structure of organization may not allow some users to speak freely. JAD or Group interview may be an interesting option. JAD (Joint Application Development) is a term proposed by IBM and it is basically a structured form of group interview where all stakeholders participate (developers, end-users, managers, etc.). My experience with this is that JAD will apply better depending on what type of organization. We did JAD when I worked for the Brazilian Navy and the higher ranked officers dominated the conversation while the lower ranked officers that were really more familiar with the work to be developed shied away from giving their opinion due to the high level of hierarchical power.

18 End of Lecture End Of Today’s Lecture.

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