Fact-finding is an important activity in system investigation. In this stage, the functioning of the system is to be understood by the system analyst to design the proposed system. Various methods are used for this and these are known as fact-finding techniques. The analyst needs to fully understand the current system.
The analyst needs data about the requirements and demands of the project undertaken and the techniques employed to gather this data are known as fact-finding techniques.
Tools, such as data and process models, document facts, and conclusions are drawn from facts. If facts are not collected, tools can¿½t be used effectively and efficiently.
After gathering needed information of the system the analyst should record them in a proper way which is known as fact-recoding methods.
What are the facts to be collected
Any information System can be examined in terms of four building blocks:
¿½ Data: The raw material used to create useful info.
¿½ Processes: The activities that carry out the mission.
¿½ Interfaces: How the system interacts with people.
¿½ Geography: Where data is stored, processes & interfaces happen.
Fact-finding skills must be learned and practiced. Systems analysts need an organized method of collecting facts. They especially need to develop a detective mentality to be able to discern relevant facts.
When do perform fact-finding
¿½ System Analysis Phase.
? Study Phase.
? Definition Phase.
? Selection Phase.
¿½ Post Implementation Review.
Various kinds of techniques are used and the most popular among them are,
2. On-Site Observation.
Interview is a very important data gathering technique. Analysts can use interviews to collect information about the current system form the potential users. Here the analysts discover the areas of misunderstanding, unrealistic exception and descriptions of activities and problems along with resistance to the new proposed system.
Goal of interview
¿½ Find facts, verify facts, and clarify facts.
¿½ Generate enthusiasm.
¿½ Get end user involved.
¿½ Identify requirements.
¿½ Set the stage for the interview.
¿½ Establish rapport; put the interviewee at ease.
¿½ Phrase questions clearly and succinctly.
¿½ Be a good listener; avoid arguments.
¿½ Evaluate the outcome of the interview.
The interviews are of two types namely,
Structured interviews are those where the interviewee is asked a standard set of questions in a particular order. All interviewees are asked the same set of questions.
The questions are further divided in two kinds of formats for conducting this type of interview.
¿½ Open-response format
e.g. “Why are you dissatisfied with the current scheduling method?”
¿½ Closed-response format
e.g.. “Are you satisfied with the current scheduling methods?”
“Do you think that the manual scheduling procedure be changed with some automated procedure?”
The unstructured interviews are undertaken in a question-and-answer format. This is of a much more flexible nature than the structured interview and can be very rightly used to gather general information about the system.
Here the respondents are free to answer in their own words. In this way their views are not restricted. So the interviewer gets a bigger area to further explore the issues pertaining to a problem.
¿½ Can motivate the interviewee to respond freely.
¿½ More feedback can be probed.
¿½ Can adapt or reword questions for each individual.
¿½ Extra information from body movement and facial expressions.
¿½ Time consuming.
¿½ Requires good communication skills.
¿½ Requires good interviewing skills.
¿½ May be impractical due to location constraints.
¿½ The interviewee may not answer/give appointment.
2. On-Site Observation
On-site observations are one of the most effective tools with the analyst where the analyst personally goes to the site and discovers the functioning of the system. As an observer, the analyst can gain first hand knowledge of the activities, operations, processes of the system on-site, hence here the role of an analyst is of an information seeker.
This information is very meaningful as it is unbiased and has been directly taken by the analyst. This exposure also sheds some light on the actual happenings of the system as compared to what has already been documented, thus the analyst gets closer to the system. This technique is also time-consuming and the analyst should not jump to conclusions or draw inferences from small samples of observation rather the analyst should be more patient in gathering the information. This method is however less effective for learning about people’s perceptions, feelings and motivations.
Mainly observation categorized into two,
Formal observation ¿½ Observation a person by him being noticed.
Informal observation ¿½ Observing a person without him being noticed.
¿½ Obtain permission from appropriate supervisors or managers.
¿½ Prepare special forms to record data.
¿½ Determine who, what, where, why, when and how of the observation.
¿½ Takes notes immediately or after the observation.
¿½ Review the observation notes with appropriate individuals.
¿½ Also observe during low, normal, and peak periods of operations.
¿½ Don¿½t interrupt the individuals work.
¿½ Don¿½t focus on trivial activities.
¿½ Don¿½t make assumptions.
¿½ Observation of people at work provides first hand experience of the way that the current system operates.
¿½ Data are collected in real time and can have a high level of validity if care is taken in how the technique is used.
¿½ Observation can be used to verify information from other sources or to look for exceptions to the standard procedure.
¿½ Baseline data about the performance of the existing system and of users can be collected.
¿½ The act of observation alters the behavior.
¿½ The act of made may not involve the difficulty and volume normally experienced during that time period.
¿½ Some task may not always be performed in the manner in which they are observed.
¿½ People may not let u see what you want to see.
Third fact finding technique is to thoroughly investigate the application and problems. The analyst has to read computer journals, reference books, internet white papers and case-studies for investigation. The Analyst can visit other companies or departments which have addressed similar problems.
¿½ Can save time if solution already exists.
¿½ Investigator can see how others have solved similar problems or met similar requirements.
¿½ Keeps investigator up to date with current developments.
¿½ Requires access to appropriate sources of information.
¿½ May ultimately not help in solving problem because problem is not documented elsewhere.
Questionnaires are another way of information gathering where the potential users of the system are given questionnaires to be filled up and returned to the analyst.
Questionnaires are useful when the analyst need to gather information from a large number of people. It is not possible to interview each individual. Also if the time is very short, in that case also questionnaires are useful. If the anonymity of the respondent is guaranteed by the analyst then the respondent answers the questionnaires very honestly and critically.
Just like the interviews and on the same lines questionnaires are of two types.
Open-Response Based Questionnaires
The objective of open-response questionnaire is to gather information and data about the essential and critical design features of the system. The open-ended question requires no response direction or specific response.
This form is also used to learn about the feelings, opinions, and experiences of the respondents. This information helps in the making the system effective because the analyst can offer subsequent modifications as per the knowledge gained.
What additional reports would you require from the System? —————————————————————— —————————————————————— ——————————————————————————————————————–
Closed-Response Based Questionnaires
The objective of closed-response questionnaire is to collect the factual information of the system. It gives an insight in how the people dealing with the system behave and how comfortable are they with it. In this case the respondents have to choose from a set of given responses. Thus the respondent can express their liking for the most favorable one from the possible alternatives.
The closed questions can be of various types and the most common ones are listed below.
1. Yes/No Question
Do you print reports from the existing System? (please circle the appropriate answer)
2. Multiple Choice Questions
How many new surgery appointments do you obtain in a year? (please tick one box only)
3. Scaled Questions
How satisfied are you with the response time of the patients¿½ records update? (please circle one options)
¿½ Can be answered quickly.
¿½ An economical way of gathering data from a large number of people.
¿½ If the questionnaire is well designed, then the results can be analysed easily, possibly by computer.
¿½ Good questionnaires are difficult to construct.
¿½ There is no automatic mechanism for follow up or probing more deeply, although it is possible to follow up with an interview by telephone or in person if necessary.
¿½ Postal questionnaires suffer from low response rates.
Interview is the most suitable fact-finding technique of gathering information for Victoria Hospital System. Because there are small numbers of people are working, hence result can be produced in a short period of time, easy to evaluate the result, more feedback can be a probed and new ides may arise.
Fact-recording methods and standards
The fact recording is a reverence for facts and knowing how to look for them. You do not go into data collection with a predetermined opinion of the design of the final procedure. You let the facts tell you what shape the procedure should take. But, you must be able to find facts and know how to record them. This is done by breaking down the procedure into steps and listing them in proper sequence, without leaving things out. The analyst keeps his or her attention on the subject being charted, follows its flow, step by step, and is not distracted by other subjects that could easily lead off onto tangents. The analyst becomes immersed in the data collection, one flow at a time.
Record what is actually happening, not what should happen or could happen. When later you have them neatly organized and present them for study the facts will assert their authority as they tell their story.
A Software Standard is a standard, common format of a document, file, or data transfer accepted and used by one or more software developers while working on one or more than one software programs. Software standards enable interoperability between different programs created by different developers.
Software standards consist of certain terms, concepts, data formats, document styles and techniques agreed upon by software creators so that their software can understand the files and data created by a different software program. To be considered a standard, a certain protocol needs to accepted and incorporated by a group of developers who contribute to the definition and maintenance of the standard.
Developers prefer using standards for software development because of the efficiencies it provides for code development and wider user acceptance and use of the resulting application.
The followings are computer and paper based fact-recording methods and standard documentation techniques, which are being used in software development.
¿½ Data flow diagrams
¿½ Context diagrams
¿½ Flow charts
¿½ Decision tables
¿½ Grid charts
Data flow diagrams
¿½ Graphically describe the flow of data within an organisation
¿½ Composed of four basic elements represented by standard symbols:
Basic data flow diagram
¿½ Show major data flows into and out of a system
¿½ Describe each subsystem as a process showing interrelationship of those subsystems and their relationship to main system
¿½ Depict logical flow of data in summary form
¿½ The starting point for studying any system
¿½ Depict the system at its highest level
¿½ Referred to as level zero data flow diagrams
¿½ Document physical flows determined after logical data flows have been documented using data flow diagrams
Flow chart symbols
Advantages and disadvantages of flow charts
¿½ Enable any system to be represented in easily understandable manner
¿½ Overall picture of system easily seen
¿½ Highlight relationship among different parts of the system
¿½ Creation can be time-consuming
¿½ Numerous symbols can be confusing
¿½ Process may not be completely representable using symbols
There are three types of flow chart, namely
1. System flow charts
¿½ Show the relationship between input, processing and output including data, documents and storage
¿½ Represent the relationship between various processes
2. Document flow charts
¿½ Emphasise the flow of documents between various people, groups and departments of an organisation.
3. Program flow charts
¿½ Show the detailed steps of a computer program
¿½ Show the logic and processing steps used to develop a computer program
¿½ List the decision logic of a program flow chart in tabular form
¿½ Constructed with two main columns and two rows:
? First row is further divided into a number of rows of conditions
? Second row is further divided into a number of rows of actions
The decision table tells us the following
¿½ if stock is not available and floor stock is not being sold, collect 10% advance
¿½ if stock is available but delivery is not within three days, collect 10% advance
¿½ if stock is available and delivery within three days, collect full value of sale
¿½ if stock is not available but floor stock is being sold within three days, collect full value of sale
¿½ if stock is not available but floor stock is being sold after three days, collect 10% advance
A grid chart is a type of chart that shows the interaction of two data points at the grid intersection of their respective axes.
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