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Runninghead:INFORMATION REQUIREDDETERMINATION STRATEGY 1
Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited
Information Required Determination Strategy
Date: November 19th, 2013
James (Andy) Bohl, Brooke Johnson, Molly Loden, and Yang Wang
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 2
Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited
Information Required Determination Strategy
Our consulting company has been contracted by Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited
(MCMDU) to support the analysis, design, and implementation for an information support
system for the company. We believe that a three part strategy that combines artifact analysis,
observation, and interviewing, is the best approach to establishing the optimal information
requirement determination of a new system for MCMDU. This is based on information provided
to us by the company’s owner, Diane Draper. We will use analysis of artifacts to look at past
procedures and analyze how things have gone in the past. We will then use observation to
examine how the company is currently run and how employees within the company perform
current tasks and procedures. Lastly, we will use the interview process to examine different
branches of the company to establish what employees, as well as retailers, think needs to be
corrected, expanded, or added when implementing a new system.
We believe that part one of our three-part strategy should be analyzing MCMDU’s
artifacts. Artifacts are recorded documents that pertain to or are used by companies or
organizations. As stated in Modern Systems Analysis and Design (Hoffer, George, &Valacich,
2014), “organizational mission statements, business plans, organization charts, business policy
manuals, job descriptions, internal and external correspondence, and reports from prior
organizational studies can all provide valuable insight” when trying to determine system
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 3
Analysis of documentation can tell a manager a lot about the performance of the currently
implemented system, as well as what information should be considered in the new system. The
textbook, Modern Systems Analysis and Design, provides the following uses of analysis of
Provides problems with an existing system
Provides organizational direction that can help guide newly created information systems
Provides value for the organizations or individuals that helped determine those priorities
for various capabilities desired by users
Provides opportunities to meet newly created goals for the system
Provides new rules for processing data and the principles by which the organization will
be expected to operate within the parameters of the newly created information system
(Hoffer, George, &Valacich, 2014, p.161).
While reviewing phase 1 of the business case of MCMDU, the document states that Ms.
Draper has identified the need for a new information system to handle the current inventory
management system “… more efficiently in order to deal with the overall maintenance of
information access for both support of ongoing company operations in decision-making”
(Business Case on Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited, n.p.). It is important to note that
MCMDU has undergone radical changes in its sales channels. Those channels have changed
from a focus on selling to brick-and-mortar retailers and wholesalers to now focusing on
generating sales primarily from e-commerce retailers. Over 80% of its sales volume is now
generated by e-commerce.
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 4
We will analyze MCMDU’s nine Microsoft excel workbooks that provide inventory
information, as well as the proprietary templates of the individual e-commerce retailers to gain
an understanding of what needs to be provided to e-commerce retailers by MCMDU in order to
have a more universally appealing template for all e-commerce retailers. The goal of this step
will be to determine what information is required to simplify the process of inventory
management and sales fulfillment for MCMDU. Our suggestion to analyze artifacts is not a one-
stop-shop solution for a decision strategy; rather the use of analysis will complement the use of
interviews and observations.
The second part of our three-part strategy is observation. By this, we mean directly
observing system users. Individuals are not always considered to be reliable informants, even
though they think they are reliable and what they are saying is the truth. People, in many
instances, do not seem to have an accurate and complete appreciation for what they do for a
living or how they do it. Infrequent events, past issues that have developed, and areas of
considerable passion are all areas that individuals seem to struggle with most. Since individuals
cannot be fully trusted in many instances to relay a reliable interpretation of their own actions,
analysts (or observers) are hired to listen to what people say and how they perform whatever it is
they do in order to determine how individuals operate in daily situations. A downfall for
observers though, is that if they are not careful they can cause people to change their normal
behavior thus, often making the information obtained biased (Zhu).
Observation can be defined as “the process of recognizing and noticing people, objects
and occurrences to obtain information” (Thakur, n.p.). This approach is used most appropriately
when an analyst needs to find out how documents are handled, process are performed, and
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 5
whether or not the specific steps that are supposed to be being followed are actually being
followed (Thakur). The method of observation also provides the analyst the opportunity to know
and understand the individual by understanding why they do what they do. At times, the
scenario is completely different once the individual has been understood rather than going off a
presumed judgment or prior information that could be biased (Thakur).
Based on the information provided in Phase 1 on MCMDU, we believe the observation
method would be extremely useful in determining and solving MCMDU’s issues. First, we
would begin by traveling to some of the company’s locations and observing how they are
currently performing their inventory management process. We would also observe some of the
employees as well as the business to determine what would be most efficient for the business.
We would also have to take into account that the implementation changes would have to allow
the project to still be finished by May 1, 2014 as the method of observation would. Ms. Diana
Draper (owner of MCMDU) complains that the system they are currently using is slow and
tedious and requests something much faster and less time-consuming (Business Case on Mid-
Century Modern De'cor Unlimited).
We would use observation since the company performs many different functions. The
company also associates with many different employees and outside sources, and, therefore, it is
important to know how the current processes take place so that they can be improved. We would
also want to determine what documentation is needed for the business to determine how to make
the documents and or process more useful and efficient for the business. Ms. Draper has so
many responsibilities that she may be missing something suspicious taking place within the
business. Observation would be useful in that it would allow an analyst to observe something
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 6
taking place that others may not recognize (Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor
Observation when managed and performed correctly can be very beneficial. It allows the
observer to see the body language and communication of the subject. It shows the daily
occurrences and actions performed on an unbiased basis for the most part. The subject is
involved at all times whether he or she realizes it. Observation (or interviews) can be performed
in public or in private depending on the need. The subject may or may not know that he or she is
being observed which can allow the subject to reveal some valuable information. The individual
observing also has the advantage over the subject in that the subject has to go and be placed into
any surrounding or scenario the individual observing wants. Therefore, the subject can be easily
manipulated, want to confess, or want to tell all he or she knows in those type scenarios. Thus,
observation is key in almost every scenario (Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor
The table below (TABLE 6-4) provides some information on observation:
Information Richness High (many channels)
Time Required Can be extensive
Expense Can be high
Chance for : Follow-Up and Probing Good: probing and clarification questions can
be asked during or after observation
Confidentiality Observer is known to interviewer; observee
may change behavior when observed
Involvement of Subject Interviewees may or may not be involved and
committed depending on whether they know
if they are being observed
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 7
Potential Audience Limited numbers and limited time (snapshot)
*Table obtained from source: (Hoffer, George, & Valacich, 2014, p.164)
The third part of our three-part strategy is interviews. Along with observation and the analysis of
company artifacts, we believe that the use of interviews would also beneficial. According to the
textbook Modern Systems Analysis and Design (2014), “interviewing is one of the primary ways
analysts gather information about an information systems project” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich,
p.154). The book goes on to state that “early in a project, an analyst may spend a large amount
of time interviewing people about their work, the information they use to do it, and the types of
information processing that might supplement their work” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, p.154).
Stakeholders are also interviewed to understand different aspects of the organization such as
policies expectations and direction of the organization.
The interview approach will be particularly important for the process of determining
system requirements for MCMDU. During interviews we will gather pertinent information,
presented by Modern Systems Analysis and Design (2014) as “facts, opinions, and speculation”
as well as observe “body language, emotions, and other signs of what people want and how they
assess current systems” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, p.155). Interviews will provide us with
knowledge and understanding of the company that can only be gathered by talking to the
employees directly, which is important to truly understanding the needs of the company.
It is important that we approach the interview process appropriately. We must phrase
questions correctly, listen carefully, and seek diverse perspectives from those we interview.
With that being said it is important to have a thorough understanding of MCMDU. With the
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 8
appropriate technique, interviewing will be beneficial in gathering pertinent information.
Interviewing should be in depth and ask the right people the correct questions. When concerning
MCMDU, many different interviews should be conducted, including interviews with the
company’s inventory management staff, the marketing/sales staff, and the manufacturing staff, as
well as the e-commerce retailers that MCMDU do business with. Interviewing these groups of
people will be necessary to gather sufficient information.
The Interview Process
The information that follows is the interview guidelines and questions that our team will use
when working with MCMDU:
The first step in the interview process will be to prepare the interviewee(s). This step will be
performed no matter who the interviewee is. In this step we will schedule an appointment time
and place for the interview, supply the interviewee with information on point of the interview
and provide priming questions for the interviewee.
After we have prepared the interviewee(s), we will proceed on to the actual interviews. The
interviews will differ based on the interviewee(s). The following information provided is
interviews we intend to conduct based on who is being interviewed at the time:
MCMDU’s inventory management staff:
MCMDU’s inventory management staff will be vital during the interview process. There are
many topics that need to be addressed when interview the inventory management staff including
their thoughts on a new inventory system, ad-hoc inventory reports, and inventory information
for e-commerce retailers. The following questions plan to be addressed:
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 9
1) What would you say is the best thing about the current system that is used by the
inventory management staff?
2) How do you think the system could be different to better and make more sufficient the
work that is done by the inventory management staff?
3) How does the current process of adding inventory information to current Microsoft Excel
2010 workbooks (by way of the marketing/sales staff and manufacturing staff, as well as
Vice President of Operations and the Vice President of Sales) work for your staff? What
changes, if any, do you believe need to be made to the process?
4) Explain the process Ad-hoc inventory reports. How does your staff go about completing
these reports? What steps are required of you?
5) How does your staff maintain the templates for inventory information from e-commerce
retailer customers? Is this management easy or complicated? If complicated, how would
you suggest simplifying?
MCMDU’s Marketing and Sales Department and Manufacturing staff:
We will also interview MCMDU’s marketing and sales department, as well as the manufacturing
staff. These two groups will be important to gain information concerning a new inventory
system as well as information concerning recurring inventory reports. The following questions
will be addressed:
1) What do you like or dislike about the current system being used to transmit basic
information on new products to be added to inventory management on paper form that is
taken to the inventory management office?
2) What process is used to gather necessary signatures for these forms and how much time
does it take to get forms approved?
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 10
3) How do you use the reoccurring inventory report? Does the report contain sufficient
information? Is monthly a sufficient recurring date or should reports be done within
smaller or larger time frames?
The last group to be interviewed will be the e-commerce retailers. E-commerce has grown to
make us 80% of MCMDU’s business. These retailers are important to the future success of the
company and should be considered when developing a new system. The following questions
will be asked:
1) How would you describe the overall process of doing business with MCMDU?
2) What changes do you think MCMDU can make in order to more sufficiently do business
within the e-commerce sector?
3) What are your company’s inventory information requirements for doing business with
a. Follow-up (if necessary) What is necessary to doing business with MCMDU that
is not provided by MCMDU?
b. Follow-up (if necessary) What is provided in your own proprietary templates to
support the provision of information on MCMDU’s items purchased for resale
that MCMDU does not provide? How can MCMDU adjust this issue?
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 11
The following is a generic interview outline to be used throughout the interview process:
Location/Medium: Appointment Date:
Agenda: Approximate Time: 30- 35 minutes
Introduction 1 minute
Background on Project 2 minutes
Overview of Interview 1 minute
Questions 10-15 minutes
Summary of major points 3 minutes
Questions from Interviewee 5 minutes
Closing 1 minute
*outline based on information provided in figure 6-2, Modern Systems Analysis and Design
(2014) (p. 156)
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 12
Our consulting firm believes that a three-part strategy is best when determining the
required information needed to create an information support system for the company Mid-
Century Modern Décor Unlimited. Based on the information provided by the owner, Ms.
Draper, we have concluded that approaching the company from three different angles—artifact
analysis, observation, and interviews—will be provide significant and pertinent information
needed to create the system.
INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 13
Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor Unlimited. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2013,
Hoffer, J. A., George, J. F., & Valacich, J. S. (2014). Modern Systems Analysis and Design (7th
ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.
Retrieved September 21, 2013
Thakur, D. (n.d.). Different Strategies for the Requirements Determination. Retrieved September
21, 2013, from eComputerNotes: http://ecomputernotes.com/mis/system-
Zhu, Z. (n.d.). Requirements Determination and Requirements Structuring. Retrieved September
21, 2013, from umsl.edu: http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/6840_f03_papers/zhu/
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