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Effective Fact-finding Methods for Gathering Information

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 2300 words Published: 22nd Jul 2021

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Requirement analysis can be said to identify investigation, documenting and analysing requirements of the system. The first investigation step of the need of a system is a major activity of problem analysis. This is the role of a system analyst to determine the actual requirement of a system. Sometimes, system analyst may make mistake in discovering the requirements and in trying to analyse a problem. As a result, they may come up with the wrong solution in designing and implementation of a solution. And the solution will not be able to solve the real problem and even cause a new problem in later system analysis process. Therefore, this paper looks at one of the effective methods (fact-finding) for system analyst to help them in gathering information.

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Definition of Fact-finding Techniques

Fact finding is process of collection of data and information based on techniques which contain sampling of existing documents, research, observation, questionnaires, interviews, prototyping and joint requirements planning. System analyst uses suitable fact-finding techniques to develop and implement the current existing system. Collecting required facts are very important to apply tools in System Development Life Cycle because tools cannot be used efficiently and effectively without proper extracting from facts. Fact-finding techniques are used in the early stage of System Development Life Cycle including system analysis phase, design and post implementation review. Facts included in any information system can be tested based on three steps: data- facts used to create useful information, process- functions to perform the objectives and interface- designs to interact with users.

Fact-finding techniques

There are seven common fact-finding techniques

  1. Sampling of existing documentation, forms and databases
  2. Research and Site visits
  3. Observation of the work environment
  4. Questionnaires
  5. Interviews
  6. Prototyping
  7. Joint requirements planning

Sampling of existing documentation, forms and databases

The best way to analyse the existing system is to collect facts from existing documentation rather than from human sources.

There are various kinds of documents to collect facts from existing documents. These include:

  • e-mails, customer complaints, suggestion box notes and reports that document the problem area
  • problem performance reviews, samples of completed manual forms and reports and samples of completed computerized forms and reports
  • various types of flowcharts and diagrams, program documentation and user training manuals

System analyst uses sampling techniques in order to organize the above documentation. Sampling technique is the process of combing a representative sample of documents, form and records (Bentley, Whitten, 2007). According to these authors there are two commonly used sampling techniques namely randomization and stratification. Randomization is the process of selecting sample data randomly. Stratification is the systematic process to deduct the variance of sampling data. We can have better understanding of the system due to the analysis of existing documents, forms, files related to the current system.

Research and Site visits

Research and site visits, second technique, is the process of examining the problems which had previously solved by other sources that can be either human or documents. To solve the requirements of problem, the analyst visits to other organization that had previously experienced for similar problems. In addition, the analyst can also find the information from database, reference books, case studies and Internet.

Advantages of Research and Site visits

It can save the time if the problem is already solved. Researcher can know how different person previously solved the same problems. Researchers always know the details information about the current development system.

Disadvantages of Research and Site visits

Need authority to access the appropriate source of information. As documentation of problem is not recorded, there is difficult to solve the problem.

Observation of the work environment

Another fact finding technique is observation. In this technique, system analyst participates in the organization, studies the flow of documents, applies the existing system, and interacts with the users. Observation can be a useful technique when the system analyst have user point of view. Sampling technique called work sampling is useful for observation. By using this technique, system analyst can know how employees spend their days.


Questionnaires are also one of useful fact-finding technique to collect information from large number of users. Users fill up the questions which are given by the system analyst and then give the answers back to the system analyst. Questionnaires can save time because system analyst does not need to interview each of users and if the time of interview is short, questionnaires are more useful. To fulfil the requirements of the system objective, system analyst should have the ability to clearly define the design and frame of questionnaires.

There are two types of questionnaires:

1. Free-format questionnaires

In free-format questionnaires, users are allowed to answer questions freely without immediate response. The results are also useful in learning about feelings, opinions, and experiences of the respondents.

2. Fixed-format questionnaires

The purpose of fixed-format questionnaires is to gather information from predefined format of questions. Users are allowed to choose the result from the given answers. There are three types of fixed-format questions: multiple-choice questions (Yes or No type), rating questions (Strongly agree, Agree, No opinion, Disagree, Strongly disagree), ranking questions (numbering according to the preferences).

Advantages of Questionnaires

People can fill the forms and give answers freely to the analyst. This technique is inexpensive. Users are more willing to response real answer as they do not need to give their personal information. Responses can be calculated and analysed quickly.

Disadvantages of Questionnaires

Incomplete answers will be received from users. Analyst cannot observe the body language of user responses. Analyst has no chance to define vague or incomplete responses. Good questionnaires are difficult to prepare.


Interview is the most commonly used technique to collect information from the face-to-face interviews. The purpose of interview is to find, verify, clarify facts, motivate end-users involved, identify requirements and gather ideas and opinions. The role of interview includes interviewer who is system analyst and interviewee who are system owner or user. Interviewing technique needs good communication skills for interaction between system analyst and user.

There are two types of interviews.

1. Unstructured interviews

An interview that is conducted with only a general goal or subject in mind and with few, if any, specific questions (Bentley, Whitten, 2007). Open-ended questions type is used in unstructured interview that allows user to answer freely in an appropriate way.

2. Structured interviews

Structured interview is an interview which contains predefined set of questions. In structured interview, close-ended questions type is used to limit answers to specify choices, short and direct responses from the interviewees.

Advantages of Interviews

By motivating interviewees, they have confident to answer the questions more effectively. System analyst can examine the more feedbacks from the interviewees. System analyst can prepare questions for interviewees to be more suitable or change the questions for every individual. System analyst can know the nonverbal communications of interviewees by perceiving the body movements and facial expression.

Disadvantages of Interviews

Interviewing is time consuming and costly mechanism in fact-finding technique. Moreover, the communication skills of the system analyst affect the success of interview.


Another fact-finding technique is known as prototyping which collects the requirement facts of the system. Prototyping is sampling a small working model and it is more related to pre-design of the information system. The implementation of prototyping can be developed in earlier stage of system development life cycle when analyzing the facts. The process of prototyping facts in order to specify the user’s requirements is also known as discovery prototyping.

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Advantages of Prototyping

Users and developers are able to test and understand the system in advance before final implementation. It also can make and determine development of the system before applying high development costs in the information system. In addition, it is a kind of training mechanism. Prototyping require less time on fact-finding and it is useful in defining the constant and consistent requirements.

Disadvantages of Prototyping

Training of developers is a requirement in prototyping. Sometimes users can misunderstand the performance, reliability and features of prototype as real results. Therefore, users need to train to know that prototype only covers system functionality and it is not a complete system. Development cost and schedule may change in prototyping.

Joint requirements planning

JRP is the structured group work meeting to identify, analyze problems and define the requirements of system. JRP is becoming increasingly common in systems planning and systems analysis to obtain group consensus on problems, objectives and requirements (Bentley and Whitten; 2007). JRP can tabulate the facts efficiently in a short time and it can also replace in the place of numerous and separate interviews. JRP contains different participants with each specialized roles to perform structured meeting. JRP participants include sponsor, facilitator, users and managers, scribes and IT staff. Sponsor is an individual in top management, who has full authority to decide who will be participants, time and location of JRP session. The role of facilitator is to lead JRP session, motivate participants, solve conflicts and meet the requirements of meeting during the JRP session. Users in JRP session are responsible for rules and requirement of business, prototype, and satisfactory decisions. And Managers are responsible for projects, schedules and costs and training requirements. Scribes job is to record everything discussed in the meeting. IT staff responsible for models and documentation concerning with facts during the discussion.

Advantages of JRP

JRP is formed different individuals with various roles and covers both in users and in management levels. JRP saves time to develop systems as it is not required one-on-one interviewing of each participant within the organization. When JRP incorporates prototyping as a means for confirming requirements and obtaining design approvals, the benefits of prototyping are realized (Bentley and Whitten; 2007).

Disadvantages of JRP

Extensive training is required for JRP as it is a group form. Active participation of all individuals will results the solution of JRP sessions.

Using Questionnaires in Usage of Automated Teller Machine

In our paper we applied Questionnaires technique for problems that are found in Usage of Automated Teller Machine. The following questionnaire is designed for usage of Bank Automatic Teller Machine. We planned two parts for our questionnaire: first part is collecting the demographic characteristics of users and second part is collecting the user feed backs according to our questions.

Section A

1. Gender: Male Female

2. Age: 15-20 21-40 41-50 Above

3. Occupation: Student Civil Servant Business Others

4. Types of account: Savings Current Others

Section B

Questions for Usage of Automatic Teller Machine

1 Do you use Automatic Teller Machine for your banking Transaction?

2 Can you operate ATM with ease?

3 Did Automatic Teller Machine enable you perform transaction for 24 hours?

4 Can you access Automatic Teller Machine at any location?

5 Are you aware of settlement of utility bills through ATM?

6 Are you aware of making fund transfer through ATM?

7 Are you comfortable with ATM Usage for Banking Transaction?

8 Is Automatic Teller Machine transaction charges Affordable?

9 Is Automatic Teller Machine Network reliable?

10 Did your Automatic Teller Machine card ever get trap during Transaction?

11 Did ATM ever debit your account without issuing out physical cash?

12 Is your complaint attended to promptly?


In this paper we discussed about the seven fact-finding techniques based on studying our text book and some articles. During our assignment, we become to understand that if the system analyst knows details of fact-finding techniques, they can get knowledge of gathering the required information to develop the current system.


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