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Chapter 9 User Needs Analysis and Assessment. Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 2 Basic strategies to perform user needs analysis and assessment Major.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 9 User Needs Analysis and Assessment. Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 2 Basic strategies to perform user needs analysis and assessment Major."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 9 User Needs Analysis and Assessment

2 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 2 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 Learning Objectives

3 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 3 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 Overview of User Needs Analysis and Assessment

4 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 4 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)

5 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 5 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

6 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 6 User Needs Analysis Steps and Tasks

7 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 7 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 Step One: Understand the Personal or Organizational Goals

8 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 8 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 Step Two: Understand the Decision Criteria and Constraints

9 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 9 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 Step Three: Define the Problem Clearly

10 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 10 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? Step Four: Identify the Roles of Stakeholders

11 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 11 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 continued Step Five: Identify Sources of Information

12 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 12 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? Step Six: Develop an Understanding of the Existing System

13 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 13 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 continued Step Seven: Investigate Alternatives to the Existing System

14 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 14 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 Step Seven: Investigate Alternatives to the Existing System (continued)

15 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 15 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 Step Seven: Where to Find Alternatives to the Existing System (continued)

16 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 16 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? Step Eight: Develop a Model of the Proposed System

17 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 17 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

18 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 18 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 Step 8 Tips

19 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 19 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 Step Nine: Make a Build-versus-Buy Decision

20 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 20 Step Nine: Advantages of Build versus Buy (continued)

21 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 21 Project charter Cost-benefit analysis Data collection instruments Charts and diagrams Prototyping software Other tools Needs Analysis and Assessment Tools

22 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 22 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 Project Charter

23 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 23 Example of a Project Charter

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

25 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 25 continued Cost-Benefit Analysis Factors

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

27 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 27 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 Input Forms

28 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 28 Example of an Input Form

29 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 29 Output forms are documents that contain the results of a business process Examples Grocery store sales receipt Paycheck stub Grade report Output Forms

30 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 30 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

31 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 31 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 Operating or Problem Logs

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

33 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 33 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 Interviews versus Questionnaires

34 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 34 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 Open-ended Questions

35 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 35 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 Forced-choice Questions

36 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 36 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 Strategies for Question Design

37 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 37 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 Direct Observation

38 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 38 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

39 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 39 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 Flowchart

40 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 40 Example of Flowchart

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

42 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 42 Example of I-P-O Chart

43 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 43 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 Prototyping Software

44 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 44 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) Other Needs Assessment Tools

45 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 45 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 Chapter Summary

46 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 46 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

47 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 47 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


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