2. Investigation methods
Methods available to the analyst include
- Questionnaires given to a large number of users
- Formal interviews with selected key personnel
- Observing a sample of users as they go about their daily tasks with the current system
- Analysing existing documents to understand what data is created and how it is then manipulated by the system.
The analyst needs to have a plan of how the information is to be gathered. This needs to be presented to management so they can agree or sign off the process. This is because carrying out the information gathering phase is likely to cause disruption to staff which may not be acceptable at critical times of the month.
For example, imagine that payroll is run on the last Tuesday of the month so the accounting staff are extremely busy on that day. They are unlikely to be able to spend an hour or two providing information on that day.
It is likely there will be limits as to what the analyst is able to carry out in the time available.
These limits include:
- Having the right people available in time. For instance some may be out of the country or assigned to other projects where they cannot commit to the time needed
- Correctly identifying all the people who need to be involved. At this stage the analyst does not actually know the system so they may not have identified the right people to include.
- Limits on what information is permitted, for instance the analyst may not be allowed to see confidential customer or employee records.
Given these practical issues, the analyst will proceed with the project. The next few pages describe the methods used.
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