Fact Finding Techniques || Fact-Finding Techniques for Requirements Discovery || Bcis Notes

Fact-Finding Techniques

Fact-finding techniques are a process of collection of data and information based on techniques that contain a sampling of existing documents, research, observation, questionnaires, interviews, prototyping, and joint requirements planning. System analyst uses suitable fact-finding techniques to develop and implement the current existing system. Collecting required facts are very important to apply tools in System Development Life Cycle because tools cannot be used efficiently and effectively without proper extracting from facts.

Fact-finding techniques are used in the early stage of the System Development Life Cycle including the system analysis phase, design, and post-implementation review. Facts included in any information system can be tested based on three steps: data facts used to create useful information, process- functions to perform the objectives, and interface- designs to interact with users.

Seven common fact-finding techniques are:

  • A sampling of existing documentation, forms, and databases
  • Research and Site visits
  • Observation of the work environment
  • Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Prototyping
  • Joint requirements planning

A sampling of existing documentation, forms, and databases:

  • The best way to analyze the existing system is to collect facts from existing documentation rather than from human sources. There are various kinds of documents to collect facts from existing documents. These include e-mails, customer complaints, suggestion box notes, and reports that document the problem area problem performance reviews, samples of completed manual forms and reports, and samples of completed computerized forms and reports various types of flowcharts and diagrams, program documentation, and user training manuals. System analyst uses sampling techniques in order to organize the above documentation. The sampling technique is the process of combing a representative sample of documents, forms, and records.

Research and Site visits:

  • Research and site visits, the second technique, is the process of examining the problems which had previously solved by other sources that can be either human or documents. To solve the requirements of the problem, the analyst visits other organizations that had previously experienced similar problems. In addition, the analyst can also find the information from the database, reference books, case studies, and the Internet.

Advantages of Research and Site visits:

  • It can save time if the problem is already solved. A researcher can know how different people previously solved the same problems. Researchers always know detailed information about the current development system.

Disadvantages of Research and Site visits:

  • Need the authority to access the appropriate source of information. As documentation of the problem is not recorded, there is difficult to solve the problem.

Observation of the work environment:

  • Another fact-finding technique is observation. In this technique, the system analyst participates in the organization, studies the flow of documents, applies the existing system, and interacts with the users. Observation can be a useful technique when the system analyst has a user point of view. A sampling technique called work sampling is useful for observation. By using this technique, system analysts can know how employees spend their days.


  • Questionnaires are also one of the useful fact-finding techniques to collect information from a large number of users. Users fill up the questions which are given by the system analyst and then give the answers back to the system analyst. Questionnaires can save time because the system analyst does not need to interview each of the users and if the time of the interview is short, questionnaires are more useful. To fulfill the requirements of the system objective, a system analyst should have the ability to clearly define the design and frame of questionnaires.

There are two types of questionnaires:

  • Free-format questionnaires
    In free format questionnaires, users are allowed to answer questions freely without an immediate response. The results are also useful in learning about the feelings, opinions, and experiences of the respondents.
  • Fixed-format questionnaires
    The purpose of fixed-format questionnaires is to gather information from the predefined format of questions. Users are allowed to choose the result from the given answers. There are three types of fixed-format questions: multiple-choice questions (Yes or No type), rating questions (Strongly Agree, Agree, No opinion, Disagree, Strongly disagree), ranking questions.


An interview is the most commonly used technique to collect information from the face to face interviews. The purpose of the interview is to find, verify, clarify facts, motivate end-users involved, identify requirements, and gather ideas and opinions. The role of the interview includes the interviewer who is a system analyst and the interviewee who is a system owner or user. The interviewing technique needs good communication skills for interaction between system analysts and users.

There are two types of interviews.

  • Unstructured interviews
    An interview that is conducted with only a general goal or subject in mind and with few, if any, specific questions. The open-ended questions type is used in an unstructured interview that allows the user to answer freely in an appropriate way.
  • Structured interviews
    A structured interview is an interview that contains a predefined set of questions. In a structured interview, close-ended questions type is used to limit answers to specific choices, short and direct responses from the interviewees.


Another fact-finding technique is known as prototyping which collects the requirement facts of the system. Prototyping is sampling a small working model and it is more related to the pre-design of the information system. The implementation of prototyping can be developed in an earlier stage of the system development life cycle when analyzing the facts. The process of prototyping facts in order to specify the users’ requirements is also known as discovery prototyping.

Joint requirements planning:

JRP is the structured group work meeting to identify, analyze problems, and define the requirements of the system. JRP is becoming increasingly common in systems planning and systems analysis to obtain group consensus on problems, objectives, and requirements. JRP can tabulate the facts efficiently in a short time and it can also replace in the place of numerous and separate interviews. JRP contains different participants with each specialized role to perform structured meetings. JRP participants include sponsors, facilitators, users and managers, scribes, and IT staff. The sponsor is an individual in top management, who has full authority to decide who will be participants, the time, and location of the JRP session. The role of a facilitator is to lead the JRP session, motivate participants, solve conflicts and meet the requirements of meeting during the JRP session. Users in the JRP session are responsible for the rules and requirements of a business, prototype, and satisfactory decisions. And Managers are responsible for projects, schedules, and costs, and training requirements. The scribe’s job is to record everything discussed in the meeting. IT staff responsible for models and documentation concerning facts during the discussion.

Advantages of JRP

  • JRP is formed by different individuals with various roles and covers both users and management levels. JRP saves time to develop systems as it is not required one-on-one interviewing of each participant within the organization. When JRP incorporates prototyping as a means for confirming requirements and obtaining design approvals, the benefits of prototyping are realized.

Disadvantages of JRP

  • Extensive training is required for JRP as it is a group form. Active participation of all individuals will result in the solution of JRP sessions.

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