preliminary needs analysis before calling a programmer will save you
There are two kinds of needs analysis that will save your company money: a
preliminary needs analysis you can perform, and the one your programmer
will perform. Many companies want to bypass this process and jump right
into the project, which they think will save them money. “Why didn’t we
think of this before?” is the phrase heard most often when a company
refuses to do a needs analysis and the project is behind schedule or going
in a direction that is confusing to the company and programmer alike.
Beginning The Process
statement is one of the most important steps in the process. It will guide
you through the rest of the process and keep your project on track.
A mission statement is a short description of what you want to accomplish
with the database.
examples might be:
“The Employee database will keep track of employee information.”
“The Inventory database will keep track of our companies parts inventory.”
At this point you may say to yourself, “The mission statement does not
really say all I want the database to do.” The mission statement is only
intended to help you focus on the primary objective of your database
have your mission statement, assemble the people who will be affected by
the database. You will want one representative from the following areas:
(The People who will be using the database, i.e. data entry personnel).
Sources (Other departments where your database might utilize already
existing data, i.e. Human Resources, Shipping and Receiving).
Now that you
have a Mission statement and have chosen the employees who will
participate in the process, choose the Discussion Leader. During meetings,
the discussion leader is responsible for keeping the focus on the Mission
statement and documenting discussion elements.
If there is already a database application in place that does not fit your
needs then the discussion should focus on:
points of the database.
of the database.
information does the database reporting now provide, should provide and
the usefulness of that information?
bad points about the way reports are laid out. Is there too much or too
little information on the reports?
If this will
be a new database then the discussion should focus on:
willingness of all departments to share existing and new data.
department will be responsible for the database?
information does each department want the database to provide?
changes in the company might affect the information needs?
single user or multiple users access the database?
Screen shots or sketches of how reports might look.
Discussion Leader or the appointed secretary should document discussion
elements from meetings. If you are the final decision maker on the
project, review each element and note your Likes and Dislikes. Meet
separately with each meeting participant and review your comments. At the
end of the meetings you will have a good idea of your information needs
and each departments participation level.
outcome should produce the following results:
Contact for the project.
Contact for each department involved in the project.
Information needs of each department.
of existing data sources.
database might affect other departments.
user or multiple users access to the database.
shots or sketches of how reports might look.
preliminary needs analysis completed will facilitate the analysis your
programmers must perform for themselves. The programmer’s analysis will be
much more detailed than the initial one you performed, but at least the
programmer will have a good starting point.