Mark, a senior manager of one reputed Pharmaceutical company was meeting with Alice, a new manager of the Information Systems Development Department. “We need to create a new information system for controlling chemicals,” Mark began. – It must track all the chemical containers that are already available in the warehouse and laboratories. Perhaps, then chemists will be able to get chemicals from somebody down the hall instead of purchasing new containers. It will save the company a lot of money. In addition, Health and Safety Department should submit government reports on usage and location of chemicals with much less effort than it does now. “
I see why this project is important, Mark, “Alice said. “But before I commit myself to sketch out the project development schedule, we will need to elicit some requirements for the system.”
Mark was taken aback: “What do you mean? I just gave you my requirements,
“In fact, you described the concept and some business-objectives of the project. “, Alice explained. – The high-level business requirements do not provide enough information to understand what system to build and how much time and the energy will be spent on such work. I want the analyst to chat with several users and understand what they expect from the system. Then we’ll determine which functionality will satisfy both your business goals and users’ needs at the same time. Perhaps you do not even need a new system to save money. “
Mark had never encountered such behavior from an information system specialist.
“Chemists are busy people,” he protested, “they hardly have time to explain all the details before you start writing the program.” Can’t your people themselves determine the ultimate goal and figure out what to create? “
Alice answered. “If we begin to make our best guesses at what users expect from the system, no good will come of it. We are software developers, not chemists. We really do know what exactly specialists want from the chemical controlling information system. I know from my own experience that if you spend time studying the problem prior to programming no one will be satisfactory with the results. “
“We do not have time for this,” insisted Mark. “I told you my requirements.” Now, please, start creating the system. Keep me informed about the progress of the work. “
Such dialogues occur regularly during software development. Customers who want a new information system often do not understand the importance of gaining input directly from future users of the system and other stakeholders. Marketing specialists who developed a great product concept, believe that they adequately represent the interests of prospective buyers. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for opinion of people that will actually use the software. According to some modern concepts of software development, such as Extreme Programming, a client, even donkey deep in own business, must work closely with the development teams. As one book on extreme programming says, “the success of a project depends on the concerted actions of the client and programmers”.
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