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The IUP Journal of Information Technology
Information Gathering Methods and Tools: A Comparative Study
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There is an immense need to aid the system analyst in the use of appropriate techniques/tools for specific situations under certain conditions during Requirements Elicitation (RE). RE techniques, also known as information gathering methods/tools, are methods used by analysts to determine the needs of customers and users. Techniques that provide safety, utility, usability, learnability etc. for stakeholders result in their cooperation, commitment and sincerity. This leads to important requirements being discovered and subsequent project success. This paper has assessed the most commonly used RE techniques/tools, including interview, Joint Application Development (JAD), questionnaire, observation, document analysis, prototyping, introspection, user scenario, card sorting and laddering with emphasis on stakeholders’ perception rather than the work to be done or the Information Technology (IT) that is involved. The result shows each technique has its strengths and weaknesses when evaluated against stakeholders’ perception of safety, utility, usability and learnability. These factors form a guide that could help analysts to determine the appropriate RE techniques/tools for a given project.

 
 

System development is a crucial task, especially understanding the requirements for the system to be developed (Tariq et al., 2015). Much of business or technical requirements are not documented anywhere—it resides in the minds of stakeholders, in feedback that has yet to be obtained from end users, and from a study of flowcharts and surveys that have yet to be created (Masters, 2010). The process of understanding stakeholders’ needs of a system is called Requirements Elicitation (RE) (Al Mrayat

et al., 2013). RE is also called information gathering (Abbasi et al., 2015). This process is one of the important phases in system development and relies on the use of appropriate techniques/tools, which are the means by which system analysts determine the problems, opportunities and needs of the customers (Khan et al., 2014; and Nisar et al., 2015). Whenever the analyst lacks the knowledge of the different RE techniques/tools and characteristics for improved stakeholders’ participation, the activity related to requirements will fail (Anwar and Razali, 2012). This failure may result in the system being delivered late, unreliable, costlier than the original estimation and not meeting user’s expectation (Mulla and Girase, 2012a and 2012b).

As the selection of suitable RE technique/tool is a challenging task, a number of researchers have proposed several selection guidelines to aid the system analyst during RE. However, the limitation of these studies is that they do not provide guidance as presented in this paper. This study provides a detailed review of commonly used RE techniques/tools, including interviews, questionnaires, observation, Joint Application Development (JAD), document analysis, prototyping, introspection, user scenario, card sorting and laddering with emphasis on stakeholders’ perception on safety, utility, usability and learnability rather than the work to be done or the information technology (IT) that is involved.

 
 

Information Technology Journal, Software engineering, Requirements Elicitation (RE), Stakeholders, System analyst, Information gathering method, System development.