SAD-Stratergies For Determining Information Requirements

There are three general approaches for getting information regarding the users requirements. They are
  •  Asking
  •  Getting information from the existing information system
  •  Prototyping.

This strategy obtains information from users by simply asking them about the requirements. It assumes a stable system where users are well informed and can overcome biases in defining their problem. There are three key asking methods.

1. Questions: Questions may be open-ended or closed. An open-ended question allows the respondent to formulate a response. It is used when feelings or opinions are important. A closed question requests one answer from a specific set of responses. It is used when factual responses are known.

2. Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a technique used for generating new ideas and obtaining general information requirements. This method is appropriate for getting non conventional solutions to problems. A guided approach to brainstroming asks each participant to define ideal solutions and then select the best one. It works well for users who have sound system knowledge but have the difficulty of accepting new ideas.

3.Group consensus:
This method asks participants for their expectations regarding specific variables. Each participant fills out a questionnaire. The results are summarized and given to participants along with a follow-up questionnaire. Participants are invited to change their responses. The results are again summarized and given back to the participants. This debate by questionnaire continues until participants responses have converged enough. This method is advantageous than brainstorming because the participants are not subjected to psychological pressure.


There are two methods in extracting information from an already existing system

1. Data Analysis approach
  •  Determining information from an existing application is called the data analysis approach.
  •  It simply asks the user what information is currently received and what other information is required.
  •  It depends on the user for getting accurate information.
  •  The analyst examines all reports, discusses each piece of information with the user, and determines unfulfilled information needs by interviewing the user.
  •  The analyst is primarily involved in improving the existing flow of data to the user.
  •  The data analysis method is ideal for making structured decisions, although it requires that users articulate their information requirements.
  •   A major drawback is a lack of established rules for obtaining and validating information needs that are not linked to organizational objectives.
2.  Decision Analysis
  •  This method breaks down a problem into parts, which allows the user to focus separately on the critical issues.
  •  It also determines policy and organizational objectives relevant to complete each major decision.
  •  The analyst and the user then refine the decision process and the information requirements for a final statement of information requirements.
  •  In this method information needs are clearly linked to decision and organizational objectives.
  •  It is useful for unstructured decisions and information tailored to the user’s decision-making style.
  •  The major drawback is that information requirements may change when the user is promoted or replaced
The third strategy for determining user information requirements is used when the user cannot establish information needs accurately before the information system is built. The reason could be the lack of an existing model on which to decide requirements or a difficulty in visualizing candidate system. In this case the user need to consider real life systems from which adjustments can be made. This iterative approach first set up the initial requirements and builds a system to meet these requirements. As users gain experience, they request additional requirements or modifications and the process continues. Prototyping is suitable for environments where it is difficult to formulate a concrete model for defining information requirements. Prototyping strategy is appropriate for determining high uncertainty information requirement. 
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