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Information-Gathering Techniques And Design Methods

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Riordan Manufacturing HR System: Architecting and implementing a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art Information System

Patrick Odoi

University of Phoenix

BSA/375 Fundamentals of Business Systems Development

Don Driscoll

Riordan Manufacturing HR System: Architecting and implementing a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art Information System


Interaction with Managers and Users

Before beginning a preliminary investigation, a memo or an e-mail message would be sent out to managers and employees to know about the investigation and explain my role as a systems analyst. I would meet with key managers, users, and IT staff to describe the project, explain my responsibilities, answer questions, and invite comments. This starts an important dialog with users that will continue throughout the entire development process.

When interacting with users, I would highlight the point that this investigation is not about a problem that Riordan Manufacturing has, but rather the additional capability that the company would like to have. This would help employees to not focus on desirable new features and enhancements rather than on current system limitations. Instead of focusing on difficulties, I would question users about additional capability they would like to have. Using this approach, I hope to highlight ways to improve the user’s job, get a better understanding of operations, and build better, more positive relationships with users.


A. Analyze Organization charts.

This would give me a fair understanding of how the department functions and identify individuals I might want to interview, keeping in mind that organization charts show formal reporting relationships but not the informal alignment of a group, which also is important.

B. Conduct Interviews

The primary method of obtaining information during the preliminary investigation is the interview. The interviewing process would consist of these seven steps for each interview:

1. Determine the people to interview.

2. Establish objectives for the interview.

3. Develop interview questions.

4. Prepare for the interview.

5. Conduct the interview.

6. Document the interview.

7. Evaluate the interview.

C. Document Review

Although interviews are an extremely important method of obtaining information, I would very much like to investigate the current system documentation. Document review can present a better understanding of how the current system is supposed to work. Due to the fact that most of the HR processes of Riordan are done manually, it is expected that these documentations may not be up to date. Forms can change or be discontinued, and documented procedures often are modified or eliminated.

Copies of actual forms and operating documents currently in use would be obtained, in addition to document samples during interviews with the people who perform these procedures. The documentation might not be up-to-date, so I would use follow-up interviews to check with users to confirm that I am receiving accurate and complete information.

D. Observation

The observation of current operating procedures is another fact-finding technique. Seeing the system in action gives additional perspective and a better understanding of system procedures. Personal observation also enables the verification of statements made in interviews and determine whether procedures really operate as they are described.

E. Questionnaires and Surveys

A questionnaire, also called a survey, is a document containing a number of standard questions that can be sent to many individuals.

Questionnaires can be used to obtain information about a wide range of topics, including workloads, reports received, volumes of transactions handled, job duties, difficulties, and opinions of how the job could be performed better or more efficiently.

F. Research

Research is another important fact-finding technique. The systems analyst would use the Internet, IT magazines, and books to obtain background information, technical material, and news about industry trends and developments. In addition, discussions with other IT professionals would be very helpful in helping to solve this business problem.

G. Documentation

Keeping accurate records of interviews, facts, ideas, and observations is essential to successful systems development. Every data and information collected through the process of information-gathering would be recorded and stored. This is because as information about the current HR system and the general project at hand is being collected, the importance of a single item can be overlooked and complex system details can be forgotten. The systems analyst would:

• Record information as soon it is obtained.

• Use the simplest recording method possible.

• Record findings in such a way that they can be understood by someone else.

• Organize documentation so related material is located easily.


The scope of the project is to architect and implement a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art information system technology that will integrate all the human resources processes at the different Riordan manufacturing plants into one unified process at the company’s headquarters in San Jose, California. The current HR system, which was installed in 1992, is simply a part of a financial systems package which keeps track of employees’ hire dates, personal tax exemptions, pay rate, seniority dates, organizational information, vacation hours and personal information. Due to the lack of an automated HR system, any changes to these forms of employee information are submitted in writing by that


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