C H A P T E R
Information Gathering: Interactive Methods
Once you have mastered the material in this chapter you will be able to: 1. Recognize the value of interactive methods for information gathering. 2. Construct interview questions to elicit human information requirements. 3. Structure interviews in a way that is meaningful to users. 4. Understand the concept of JAD and when to use it. 5. Write effective questions to survey users about their work. 6. Design and administer effective questionnaires.
PA RT I I Information Requirements Analysis
There are three key interactive methods that you can use to elicit human information requirements from organizational members.These three methods are interviewing, joint application design (JAD), and surveying people through questionnaires. Although different in their implementation, these methods have a great deal in common, too. The basis of their shared properties is talking with and listening to people in the organization to understand their interactions with technology through a series of carefully composed questions. Each of the three interactive methods for information gathering possesses its own established process for you to follow in interacting with users. If followed, these systematic approaches will help ensure proper design and implementation of interviews, JAD workshops, and questionnaires, as well as support insightful analysis of the resulting data. Unobtrusive methods (sampling, investigation, and observing a decision maker’s behavior and physical environment) that do not require the same degree of interactivity between analysts and users will be covered in an upcoming chapter. By using interactive methods with unobtrusive methods you will achieve a more complete portrait of the organization’s information requirements.
Before you interview someone else, you must in effect interview yourself. You need to know your biases and how they will affect your perceptions. Your education, intellect, upbringing, emotions, and ethical framework all serve as powerful filters for what you will be hearing in your interviews. You need to think through the interview thoroughly before you go. Visualize why you are going, what you will ask, and what will make it a successful interview in your eyes. You must anticipate how to make the interview fulfilling for the individual you interview, as well. An information-gathering interview is a directed conversation with a specific purpose that uses a question-and-answer format. In the interview you want to get the opinions of the interviewee and his or her feelings about the current state of the system, organizational and personal goals, and informal procedures for interacting with information technologies.
PART II • INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS ANALYSIS
Above all, seek the opinions of the person you are interviewing. Opinions may be more important and more revealing than facts. For example, imagine asking the owner of a traditional store who has recently added an online store how many customer refunds she typically gives for Web transactions each week. She replies, “About 20 to 25 a week.” When you monitor the transactions and discover that the average is only 10.5 per week, you might conclude that the owner is overstating the facts and the problem. Imagine instead that you ask the owner what her major concerns are and that she replies, “In my opinion, customer returns of goods purchased over the Web are way too high.” By seeking opinions rather than facts, you discover a key problem that the owner wants addressed. In addition to opinions, you should try to capture the feelings of the interviewee. Remember that the interviewee knows the organization better than you do. You can understand the organization’s culture more fully by listening to the feelings of the respondent. Goals are important information that can be gleaned from interviewing. Facts that you obtain from hard...
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