User requirements analysis
A review of supporting methods
Research School in Ergonomics and Human Factors Loughborough University, UK email@example.com
Serco Usability Services, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Understanding user requirements is an integral part of information systems design and is critical to the success of interactive systems. However specifying these requirements is not so simple to achieve. This paper describes general methods to support user requirements analysis that can be adapted to a range of situations. Some brief case studies are described to illustrate how these methods have been applied in practice. user requirements, user-centred design, usability methods
Understanding user requirements is an integral part of information systems design and is critical to the success of interactive systems. It is now widely understood that successful systems and products begin with an understanding of the needs and requirements of the users. As specified in the ISO 13407 standard (ISO, 1999), user-centred design begins with a thorough understanding of the needs and requirements of the users. The benefits can include increased productivity, enhanced quality of work, reductions in support and training costs, and improved user satisfaction. Requirements analysis is not a simple process. Particular problems faced by the analyst are: • addressing complex organisational situations with many stakeholders • users and designers thinking along traditional lines, reflecting the current system and processes, rather than being innovative • users not knowing in advance what they want from the future system (Olphert & Damodaran, 2002)
M. Maguire and N. Bevan
rapid development cycles, reducing the time available for user needs analysis • representing user requirements in an appropriate form. This paper considers how these problems can be addressed by selecting appropriate methods to support the process of user requirements generation and validation. It describes each method briefly and shows how it contributes to the requirements process. The basis for the application of different user requirements methods is a simple process as shown in Figure 1 below encompassing 4 elements:
User needs identification
Envisioning and evaluation
Figure 1: General process for user requirements analysis
The four stages, and methods used to support the stages, are described in the next sections, followed by a summary table highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.
The first step in user requirements analysis is to gather background information about the users and stakeholders and the processes that currently take place. The following methods may be adopted: Stakeholder analysis identifies all the users and stakeholders who may influence or be impacted by the system. This helps ensure that the needs of all those involved are taken into account. If required, the system is tested by them. User groups may include end users, supervisors, installers, and maintainers. Other stakeholders include recipients of output from the system, marketing staff, purchasers and support staff (Taylor, 1990). Stakeholder analysis identifies, for each user and stakeholder group, their main roles, responsibilities and task goals in relation to the system. One of the main issues is how to trade-off the competing needs of different stakeholder groups in the new system (see 4.5 Allocation of function and user cost-benefit analysis).
User requirements analysis
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