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How to get info from client?

I'm assigned to a project, where I should spend 6 weeks with a client to do a feasibility study of a system, offer several alternatives, map out business needs, determine development cost of a proposed system, etc.

Based on that they calculate ROI, etc. The system is about supporting debt factoring operations. Based on the result he go to his board, and they decide if it's OK or not.

The problem is that the contact person is one of the high level guy of the company (he is quite smart in his area), however after talking to him once, I see that he has only a foggy idea. I also think he won't have enough time to map out a system.

Basically I'm looking for recommendation how would you do a process / study like this. What do you think is doable in 6 weeks? And most importantly how can I make sure he is happy with the result of the study.

na
Thursday, September 18, 2003

I always found the single biggest, most important thing is getting along with them personally.

Results, alone, don't matter so much.  Customers won't spot a long solution from a short solution (as any 'consultant' will take advantage of ;-) ) nor a robust one from a unnecessarily complex one etc etc.

And I know this flies in the face of 'good advice' ;-D

i like i
Thursday, September 18, 2003

A friend of mine works at a firm where they always bring the peopel who will use the system in for a datamodelling seminar. He would get a room with a whiteboard and a bunch of sticky notes. Explain data modelling to the users briefly. Then have them state all words and concepts related to what the system is supposed to deal with.
He would then write all those words on postit notes and stick them on the whiteboard and build the model from there, guiding the users into making a solid model.

Might want to try something along those lines? I guess the point is, that the accounting staff will know more about how to model an accounting system then the avrage coder. They just need someone to channel thir knowlege into a functional format.

Eric DeBois
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Eric,

That sounds pretty interesting.  It would be really interesting to have an opportunity like that.  Instead of classifying your users as lusers, you make them modelers instead.  Interesting concept.

Christopher

christopher baus
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Yes, apparently it works like a charm. The seminars take something like 4 hours, but it takes some practice and some of those... whatcha call em... people skills.

Eric DeBois
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Yea those pesky people skills again.  I've got to get me some of those...

christopher baus
Thursday, September 18, 2003

na, no offence, but if you need to ask other people how to do this job, you shouldn't be doing it.

analyst
Thursday, September 18, 2003

You really should talk to a programmer and get some Programming Advice. Don't listen to the advice on this board. See a programmer.

JM
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Other thing I like about turning lusers into modelers is they will do your work for you.  Brilliant.  I love it. 

christopher baus
Thursday, September 18, 2003

there are some misunderstanging here. this stage won't be about data modelling, and we won't discuss what data the user needs in details, what exact functions they want, etc.

it's more like discovering their business, check which process can be improved, involve their client as well, and mainly try to ask the guy to clarify his foggy dreams.

na
Friday, September 19, 2003

re analyst:

do not support your baby to try to walk, if he can't do that he won't be able to do that ever.

na
Friday, September 19, 2003

there are some misunderstanging here. this stage won't be about data modelling, and we won't discuss what data the user needs in details, what exact functions they want, etc. /quote

I understand that. It was just an example. What I meant was that a seminar could be a good approach to figuring out what needs to be done.
Have people form groups and brainstorm about which tasks in their workflow that could be improved and how -and then have a meeting where they can all have their say about what they expect etc.
Do not underestimate this way of doing things.


To JM >> why are you here then if the advice on this board sucks? And the guy is a programmer. What he is asking about isnt how to code, but how to figure what a client wants.

Eric DeBois
Friday, September 19, 2003

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