Fact Finding

There are many occasions during these stages when it is critical that the database developer detains the necessary facts to construct the required database system. The necessary facts include the terminology used inside the enterprise; problems encountered using the current system, chances sought from the new system, necessary constraints on the data and users of the new system, and a prioritized set of requirements for the new system. These facts are captured using fact-finding techniques which you are going to learn in this chapter.

What is Fact-finding in DBMS?

The formal process of using techniques such as interviews and questionnaires to collect facts about systems, requirements, and preferences is termed as fact-finding. In this chapter, it will be discussed when a database developer might use fact-finding techniques, and what types of facts should be captured. We present an overview of how these facts are used to generate the main types of documentation used throughout the database system development life cycle.

When Are Fact-Finding Techniques Used?

Many situations arise for fact-finding during the database system development life cycle. However, fact-finding is particularly vital to the early stages of the life cycle which includes the database planning, system definition and requirements gathering and in analysis stages. It is during these early stages where the database developer captures the necessary facts essential to build the required database. Fact-finding is also used in case of database design and the later stages of the lifecycle but to a lesser extent. It is to be noted that, it is important to make a rough estimation of how much time and effort is required to be spent on fact-finding for a database project.

What Facts Collect?

Throughout the database system development life cycle, the database developer needs to confine the facts about the current and future system. This is also true for the data captured and the citations produced at each stage. For example, problems come across during database design may necessitate additional data capture on the requirements for the new system.

Fact-Finding Techniques

A database developer normally uses several fact-finding techniques during a single database project. There are five commonly used fact-finding techniques:

  • Examining documentation
  • Interviewing
  • Observing the enterprise in action
  • Research
  • Questionnaires

Let us discuss in brief each of them:

  1. Examining documentation can be helpful when you try to gain some insight as to how the requirement for a database arose. You may also find that documentation can help to acquire information on the part of the enterprise associated with the problem. If the problem relates to the current system, there should have to be documents associated with that system. By examining documents, forms, reports, and files associated with the current system, you can quickly gain some thoughtful concepts out of the system.
  2. Interviewing is the most frequently used, and usually most useful, fact-finding procedure used. We can interview to collect information from person face-to-face. There can be several objectives for using interviewing such as finding out facts, verifying those facts, clarifying these released facts, generating enthusiasm, getting the end-user involved, identifying requirements, and gathering ideas and opinions. However, using the interviewing practice must require proper communication skills for dealing effectively with people who have different values, priorities, opinions, motivations, and personalities.
  3. Observing the enterprise in action: Observing the enterprise in action: Observation is one of the most successful fact-finding techniques carried out for understanding a system. Using this technique, it is achievable to either participate in or observe a person perform activities to learn about the system.
  4. Research: A useful fact-finding technique is to research the application or the problem that you are dealing with and want to put within a database. Computer trade journals, reference books, and the Internet are good sources of information which can make available of huge quantity of information on how others have solved similar problems/issues plus whether or not any software packages exist to resolve or even partially solve your current problem.
  5. Questionnaires: Another fabulous fact-finding method is to conduct surveys through questionnaires. Questionnaires are special-purpose documents that allow facts to be gathered from a large number of people while upholding some control over their responses. When dealing with a large number of listeners or audience, no other fact-finding technique can tabulate the same facts so efficiently. There are two types of questions that can be asked in a questionnaire namely free-format and fixed-format. Free-format questions offer the respondent greater freedom inputting answers. Fixed-format questions require specific responses from individuals, and for the given question, the respondent must choose from the available answers.

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