Recently I was involved in a discussion with a client surrounding how to best justify solution requirements for a Portal. He began discussing how his development team believed they must use RUP but he felt it was to focused on application design…he felt something was missing, the context, requirements and the value (priority) didn’t stand out.


I mentioned that RUP is a great methodology which I and many others use if there is time and money to do so. I also confirmed with him that RUP alone isn’t the answer. I mentioned a book written by JoAnn T. Hackos, Janice C. Redish entitled “User and Task Analysis for Interface Design”. The book provides an excellent methodology for designing complex systems. Essentially, the the process is to identity user goals and then to identify tasks required to achieve goals and the context in which the tasks are carried out.


For example, a sales person has several goals, close deals, visit clients, get proposals done etc. Their typically day might start out with phone calls in the car (Context: Car), a visit to clients (Context: Clients office), a visit to the office to check the status on proposals (Context: Office) and check email and then to return home to review some documentation (Context: Home office).


So what do you do with the information? The information is used to design the system and more specifically, provide decision support – justification. Essentially, it helps you become a SME for the particular area(s) your designing the content strategy for. You will understand how they work, where they work, who they work with, applications they use, documents they use and productivity roadblocks they experience.


For Example, If you were to design a Portal to assist Sales with Proposals and collaboration, you would have to provide access from mobile locations (Car, client office) and you would have to setup the person with home access. The solution must also provide access to SAP (CRM, Pipeline, Inventory), Email and Calendar, technical and sales support discussion board, and a Proposal Library. You might want to also add productivity software such as Office.


Sounds simple? Yes, it can be very simple to use once you have access to the actual users and not surrogates / representatives. That’s another blog…