Pine Valley Furniture WebStore: Determining System Requirements



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Pine Valley Furniture WebStore: Determining System Requirements

In the last chapter, you read how Pine Valley Furniture’s management began the WebStore project—to sell furniture products over the Internet. Here we examine the process followed by PVF to determine system requirements and highlight some of the issues and capabilities that you may want to consider when developing your own Internet-based application. To collect system requirements as quickly as possible, Jim Woo and Jackie Judson decided to hold a three-day JAD session. In order to get the most out of these sessions, they invited a broad range of people, including representatives from sales and marketing, operations, and information systems. Additionally, they asked an experienced JAD facilitator, Cheri Morris, to conduct the session. Together with Cheri, Jim and Jackie developed an ambitious and detailed agenda for the session. Their goal was to collect requirements on the following items:

  • System layout and navigation characteristics
  • WebStore and site management system capabilities
  • Customer and inventory information
  • System prototype evolution 

In the remainder of this section, we briefly highlight the outcomes of the JAD session.

System Layout and Navigation Characteristics

As part of the process of preparing for the JAD session, all participants were asked to visit several established retail Web sites, including www.amazon.com, www.landsend.com, www.sony.com, and www.pier1.com. At the JAD session, participants were asked to identify characteristics of these sites that they found

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TABLE 5-6: Desired Layout and Navigation Feature of WebStore

appealing and those they found cumbersome; this allowed participants to identify and discuss those features that they wanted the WebStore to possess. The outcomes of this activity are summarized in Table 5-6.

WebStore and Site Management System Capabilities

After agreeing to the general layout and navigational characteristics of the WebStore, the session then turned its focus to the basic system capabilities. To assist in this process, systems analysts from the information systems department developed a draft skeleton of the WebStore based on the types of screens and capabilities of popular retail Web sites. For example, many retail Web sites have a “shopping cart” feature that allows customers to accumulate multiple items before checking out rather than buying a single item at a time. After some discussion, the participants agreed that the system structure shown in Table 5-7 would form the foundation for the WebStore system.

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TABLE 5-7: System Structure of the WebStore and Site Management Systems

In addition to the WebStore capabilities, members of the sales and marketing department described several reports that would be necessary to manage customer accounts and sales transactions effectively. In addition, the department wants to be able to conduct detailed analyses of site visitors, sales tracking, and so on. Members of the operations department expressed a need to update the product catalog easily. These collective requests and activities were organized into a system design structure called the Site Management system, summarized in Table 5-7. The structures of both the WebStore and Site Management systems will be given to the information systems department as the baseline for further analysis and design activities.

Customer and Inventory Information

The WebStore will be designed to support the furniture purchases of three distinct types of customers:

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  • Corporate customers
  • Home-office customers
  • Student customers

To track the sales to these different types of customers effectively, the system must capture and store distinct information. Table 5-8 summarizes this information for each customer type identified during the JAD session. Orders reflect the range of product information that must be specified to execute a sales transaction. Thus, in addition to capturing the customer information, product and sales data must also be captured and stored; Table 5-8 lists the results of this analysis.

System Prototype Evolution

As a final activity, the JAD participants discussed, along with extensive input from the information systems staff, how the system implementation should evolve. After completing analysis and design activities, they agreed that the system implementation should progress in three main stages so that requirement changes could be more easily identified and implemented. Table 5-9 summarizes these stages and the functionality incorporated at each one. At the conclusion of the JAD session, all the participants felt good about the progress that had been made and about the clear requirements that had been identified. With these requirements in hand, Jim and the information systems staff could begin to turn these lists of requirements into formal analysis and

TABLE 5-8: Customer and Inventory Information for WebStore

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TABLE 5-9 Stages of System Implementation of WebStore

design specifications. To show how information flows through the WebStore, Jim and his staff will produce data-flow diagrams (Chapter 6). To show a conceptual model of the data used within the WebStore, they will generate an entity-relationship diagram (Chapter 7). Both of these analysis documents will become the foundation for detailed system design and implementation. As we saw in Chapter 1, the systems analysis phase of the systems development life cycle includes determining requirements and structuring requirements. Chapter 5 focuses on requirements determination, the gathering of information about current systems, and the need for replacement systems. Chapters 6 and 7 address techniques for structuring the information discovered during requirements determination.

 

 

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