Interviews • Most used Technique • But should not be the only one • Can be used for: • Learn What the present system does • What stakeholders need • Can be • Structured • Unstructured (Informal)
Process: Interviewing Stakeholders • Prepare detailed questions • Meet with individuals or groups of users • Interview as many stakeholders as possible • Obtain and discuss answers to the questions • To obtain REAL requirements, focus on the problem, not solution! • Document the answers • Follow up as needed in future meetings or interviews • Multiple sessions frequently needed
Planning and Preparation • Set goals and objectives for the interview • Acquire background knowledge of the subject matter to conduct an effective interview • About the domain (vocabulary, problems...), but also about the interviewee (work tasks, attitude...) • Prepare questions in advance, by subject • Provide questions to the interviewee(s) ahead of time? • Organize the environment for conducting an effective interview • Determine how the elicitation notes will be taken (manually, audio, video, by whom…)
The Interview Session • Make the interviewee comfortable and confident • Arrive on TIME !! • Be polite and respectful! • Adjust to the interviewee • You have your goals – be persistent but flexible • Interview several people at once to create synergy (?) • Try to detect political aspects as they may influence the said and the unsaid • Interviewing multiple people at once may complicate things!
Relationship Models • Relationship model to aim for: • Master/Apprentice: • Analyst plays the role of the “apprentice” who wants to learn a craft from the “master” (the interviewee). • Relationship models to avoid • Novice/Expert • Interviewee/Interviewer • Host/Guest • Analyst should be able to enforce relationship model
Structured Interview • What to ask • Objective questions with precise target • One question should be related to the other • How to ask • Ask whom • Usually 1 to 1 • Can be 1 to n or n to 1 • Requires some knowledge about the problem to formulate the questions • Tape it ?
Pros • Assure you will organize thoughts and activities • Targets specific things • Easier to summarize it later • Pushes stakeholder to be systematic “on the target” • Facilitates to remove “distortion” from interviewees subjectively
Cons • Requires more time • You need to have extensive (or at least good) knowledge of the business • May lead you to not explore things you should • May looks like stakeholders are been “pushed against the wall”
Non-Structured Interview • More flexible • But still with a pre-defined guideline of questions • Informal • But always keep control • Mostly used during exploratory phases • Sometimes interesting to be used later also to solve conflicts or to further explore alternatives
Pros • Good when you are new to the business • Can be used to explore ideas and doubts • Usually the stakeholders feel better and may disclose more information • Helps to see the “big picture”
Cons • What you get may not be relevant to your system • Hard to summarize findings • Do not favor to obtain specific knowledge • Not everybody can do it well – Interviewing skills highly desirable • Might lead you to repeat questions in the future (It can be quite annoying to be answering the same thing over and over)
The Interview Process Prepare Carry out Follow up
Interviews • Follow Up – Essential • After the interview write down what you understood • Send it to the user(s) involved and ask for a feedback (Have I got it right?) • Ask if the user(s) want to add anything
Some tips • Start the interview with some small talk. Try to set people at easy • Easy questions always come first • Personal information • Organization/Sector structure • Even if it is an structured interview probe for details when needed. But be careful not to get lost • If the time allows, towards the end use open-ended questions. • Is there anything else you think we should know about ?
Common Interview Mistakes  • Trying to convince stakeholders that YOU are smart – wrong place to do that! • Instead take every opportunity to show you think the stakeholder is smart • E.g.: I don’t think so.I think you have anElevator ThroughputProblem, not a Speed Problem. My elevators are too slow!
Common Interview Mistakes  • Trying to convince stakeholders that YOU are smart – wrong place to do that! • Instead take every opportunity to show you think the stakeholder is smart • E.g.: My elevators are too slow! I see. Tell me why you feel that they are too slow.
Common Interview Mistakes  • Trying to convince stakeholders that YOU are smart – wrong place to do that! • Instead take every opportunity to show you think the stakeholder is smart • E.g.: My elevators are too slow! I see. Tell me why you feel that they are too slow. People are complaining about the lines. What improvement are you looking for?
Common Interview Mistakes  • Trying to convince stakeholders that YOU are smart – wrong place to do that! • Instead take every opportunity to show you think the stakeholder is smart • E.g.: My elevators are too slow! I see. Tell me why you feel that they are too slow. People are complaining about the lines. What improvement are you looking for? How about installing some mirrors by the elevators? No complaints about the wait times!
Interviews – Startup Questions  • Context-free questions to narrow the scope a bit (Weinberg) • Identify customers, goals, and benefits • Who is (really) behind the request for the system? • Who will use the system? Willingly? • Are there several types of users? • What is the potential economic benefit from a successful solution? • Is a (pre-existing) solution available from another source?
Interviews – Startup Questions  • When do you need it by? • Can you prioritize your needs? • What are your constraints? • Time • Budget • Resources (human or otherwise) • Expected milestones (deliverables and dates)?
Interviews – Startup Questions  • Try to characterize the problem and its solution • What would be a “good” solution to the problem? • What problems is the system trying to address? • In what environment will the system be used?
Interviews – Calibration and Tracking Questions • Are you the right person to answer these questions? • Are your answers “official”? If not, whose are? • Are these questions relevant to the problem as you see it? • Are there too many questions? Is this the correct level of detail? • Is there anyone else I should talk to? • Is there anything else I should be asking you? Have you told me everything you know about the problem? • Do you have any questions?
Interviews – Questions that Cannot Be Asked Directly • Ask INDIRECTLY! • Are you opposed to the system? • Are you trying to obstruct/delay the system? • Are you trying to create a more important role for yourself? • Do you feel threatened by the proposed system? • Are you trying to protect your job? • Is your job threatened by the new system? • Is anyone else's?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Functionalrequirements (Don’t ask with these words) • What will the system do? • When will the system do it? • Are there several modes of operations? • What kinds of computations or data transformations must be performed? What are the appropriate reactions to possible stimuli? • For both input and output, what should be the format of the data? • Must any data be retained for any period of time?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Design Constraints – Hardly to be used on the first interview • Physical environment • Where is the equipment to be located? • Is there one location or several? • Are there any environmental restrictions, such as temperature, humidity, or magnetic interference? • Are there any constraints on the size of the system? • Are there any constraints on power, heating, or air conditioning?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Design Constraints • Technical Environment & Interfaces • Are there constraints on the programming language because of existing software components? • Is input coming from one or more other systems? • Is output going to one or more other systems? • Is there a prescribed way in which input/output need to be formatted? • Is there a prescribed way for storing data? • Is there a prescribed medium that the data must use? • Standards • Are there any standards relevant to the system?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Performance • Are there constraints on execution speed, response time, or throughput? • What efficiency measure will apply to resource usage and response time? • How much data will flow through the system? • How often will data be received or sent? • Usability and Human Factors • What kind of training will be required for each type of user? • How easy should it be for a user to understand and use the system? • How difficult should it be for a user to misuse the system?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Security • Must access to the system or information be controlled? • Should each user’s data be isolated from data of other users? • Should user programs be isolated from other programs and from the operating system? • Should precautions be taken against theft or vandalism?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Reliability and Availability • Must the system detect and isolate faults? • What is the prescribed mean time between failures? • Is there a maximum time allowed for restarting the system after failure? • How often will the system be backed up? • Must backup copies be stored at a different location? • Should precautions be taken against fire or water damage?
Interviews – Specific Questions  • Maintainability • Will maintenance merely correct errors, or will it also include improving the system? • When and in what ways might the system be changed in the future? • How easy should it be to add features to the system? • How easy should it be to port the system from one platform (computer, operating system) to another? • Precision and Accuracy • How accurate must data calculations be? • To what degree of precision must calculations be made?
Interviews – Summary • Advantages • Can help gauge people’s real feelings, needs, etc.; direct contact with stakeholders • Can validate right away • Flexibility: can direct discussion so that the right information is obtained • Disadvantages • Needs skills • May be hard to make sense of the result and compare with other stakeholders • Expensive, time consuming • Challenges • Unanswerable questions • Tacit Knowledge • Removal from context • Biases caused by interviewer’s attitude • Subjectivity
Reading / Document Analysis • Books • Summary per chapter • Highlight the most important parts • Use a key-word index • Vocabulary • Company reports • Organization Charts • Policy Manuals • Job Description • Documentation of existing systems
Reading • Macrosystem Documents (A more careful reading) • Underline repeated words • Synonymies • Take note of unknown terms • Search for relationships among terms • Vocabulary • Try to understand and document the structure of the documents
Reading • Macro system Documents • Understand the structure of the documents • How they relate/point to each other
Reading • Reading Similar Documents: • Identify structures • Relate structures • vocabulary
Document Reading • + • Easy access to different sources of information • Volume of information • Helps you to prepare to use other techniques • - • Information can be very dispersed • Considerable amount of work is required to identify relevant facts • Written documents are often “late” • Process change – Document don’t
Questionnaires • What should one ask ? • Asks for some knowledge about the problem • Therefore you should have a minimum understanding about the problem • similar to the structured interview
Questionnaires Types • qualitative • Allows the one answering to further considerations • Makes a later analysis more difficult • Control questions – We can stimulate conflicts in order to verify the consistency of what is being told • quantitative • grading ( Yes, No/ Good, medium, bad/ 0,1,2,3,4) • Question has to be well formed to allow a good distribution of the answers • Open-ended
5 – Do you think that it is important to allow recording more than two channels at the same time? (PVR development ) Number of Answers Yes No Examples • Quantitative
8 – How easily can you retrieve information from Patient’s Medical Records ? Number of Answers Not easy at all Kind of easily easily Examples
Examples • Qualitative How do you see your background regarding the development of quality software? What do you think would be necessary to improve your performance? What knowledges would like to get? Why ? • Objective: verify the opinion regarding training policy • Why ?: A mature organization has to have well defined training policies. • Control question.
Quantitative questions Questionnaires Qualitative questions [Systems Analysis and Design in a Changing World, 6th Edition]
Quantitative questions Questionnaires Open-ended questions Qualitative questions [Systems Analysis and Design in a Changing World, 6th Edition]
Questionnaires • + • Standard questions • Statistical treatment possible • Can reach a large number of people • Can reach people virtually anywhere in the world • - • Answers are constrained • Few or no interaction/participation • Number of questionnaires returned can be disappointing • Difficult to design • Avoiding ambiguities • What questions should I ask? • How should I phrase them?
Group Elicitation / Meetings • An extension of an interview or • Direct and Intense participation • Short and intense periods • Focus • Focus Groups, Brainstorming, Requirements Workshops,or Joint Application Design (JAD) • Advantages • Good at gaining a consensus view and/or highlighting areas of conflict • Disadvantages • Can be dominated by individuals • Politics can play a role; mind the boss/subordinate dynamics • Need trained facilitator
Types of Meetings • Brainstorm • JAD • Requirements Workshop • Uses facilitators • Previous planning
Brainstorming • To invent new way of doing things or when much is unknown • When there are few or too many ideas • Early on in a project particularly when: • Terrain is uncertain • There is little expertise for the type of applications • Innovation is important (e.g., novel system) • Two main activities: • The Storm: Generating as many ideas as possible (quantity, not quality) – wild is good! • The Calm: Filtering out of ideas (combine, clarify, prioritize, improve…) to keep the best one(s) – may require some voting strategy • Roles: scribe, moderator (may also provoke), participants
Brainstorming – Objectives • Hear ideas from everyone, especially unconventional ideas • Keep the tone informal and non-judgemental • Keep the number of participants “reasonable“ – if too many, consider a “playoff “-type filtering and invite back the most creative to multiple sessions • Encourage creativity • Choose good, provocative project name • Choose good, provocative problem statement • Get a room without distractions, but with good acoustics, whiteboards, coloured pens, provide coffee/donuts/pizza • Provide appropriate props/mock-ups
Brainstorming – Roles • Scribe • Write down all ideas (may also contribute) • May ask clarifying questions during first phase but without criticizing • Moderator/Leader • Cannot be the scribe • Two schools of thought: traffic cop or agent provocateur • Traffic cop – enforces “rules of order”, but does not throw his/her weight around otherwise • Agent provocateur – traffic cop plus more of a leadership role, comes prepared with wild ideas and throws them out as discussion wanes • May also explicitly look for variations and combinations of other suggestions