New information systems are not built in a vacuum. Systems analysts cannot hope to design and build an information system that meets the needs of an organization without first determining what those needs are. In order to collect requirements for a new information system, systems analysts must employee various data collection methods. These data collection methods include interviews, questionnaires, document examination, observation, and sampling.
Interviews should be conducted with a sample of employees representing all levels of the company. Managers and employees tend to have different requirements for information systems. Interviews work best when the number of individuals involved is relatively small. When large numbers of employees need to be contacted, systems analysts will receive better results by using a questionnaire (Senn, 2004). Questionnaires can be sent electronically, and have the benefit of reaching the most people with the lowest cost. Although questionnaires often only return a tightly controlled set of answers, the benefit of reaching a large research pool is immeasurable.
Document examination is the process of sifting through existing records to determine how the company currently does business. This process can highlight areas that are potentially error prone so that the new information system can focus on eradicating those errors. Observation is a similar process except that it focuses on the flow of business processes rather than the documents generated by those processes. Finally, sampling is the frequent, scheduled collection of data from users or processes. Sampling allows systems analysts to examine ongoing processes and understand how the new information system can make those processes more efficient (Senn, 2004).
Unfortunately, even the best designed information system will require its users to be trained in its operation. A training program should be developed to assist employees in the conversion to the new system. Human resource departments are often well versed in the development of training programs. Systems analysts should work with the human resource department to develop a training that is appropriate for the organization and delivers the necessary content. Training development is a five-step process that includes needs analysis, instructional design, validation, implementation, and evaluation (Dessler, 2008). Systems analysts can provide vital feedback throughout this process. Before the training goes live, systems analysts should validate the information contained in the training. Additionally, a small group of employees should take the training and provide feedback on its effectiveness. Once the training is approved, it should be implemented so that the new information system can go into full production as soon as possible.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Senn, J. A. (2004). Information technology: Principles, practices, opportunities (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.