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Take a close look at MyCWU.  The way it was designed for your use was based on the systems analysis that CWU analysts did.  (But in addition to what you see at the surface as you interface with MyCWU, you can imagine how much of the “iceberg” you don’t see in the CWU Registry, financial aid repository, employee records, etc.  There is a complex information system below the surface, tracking lots of kinds of information: all the way from the changes departments make in academic degree requirements, to advisor-student assignments, to each grade each student gets in each section of each class.)  The CWU systems analysts had to modify their conceptual model of how this information flows as they changed what people at CWU should be able to do in MyCWU.  And they had to represent all of this in models, which could then be turned to code.

Their first task was to record the requirements — what are the capabilities that CWU students, faculty, and staff most need?  An example capability is having a place where the student, the advisor, and the registrar can share accurate information about the student’s progress toward their degree.  It’s impressive to realize all the specific capabilities that must go into this feature of MyCWU.  Another example is a place where students can see the courses that are available in an upcoming quarter, with all the information the students need to make an optimal decision of what to enroll in.  These are considered two features of the system.

How well did the analysts do?  When you try to accomplish things with MyCWU, do you find that there were some missing requirements?  What would you like to be able to do for yourself using MyCWU but can’t, because the capability just isn’t there in the current version of MyCWU?

It’s an information system, not an app.  Don’t think of MyCWU as a simple app that lets you do things as an individual. Think of it as a means of communicating important information across the CWU community.  When you enroll in a course, you are making an information change that immediately becomes viewable to that course’s instructor (hmm, I wonder how many students have signed up?), your advisor (how is this student doing in completing their graduation requirements?), the registrar’s office, financial aid, the department class schedulers. As a systems analyst, you identify aspects of this communication that haven’t been working very well for the users you are in touch with, and you can even get them to think through what would be their idea of the perfect solution.

This week’s assignment

So for this assignment, let’s say you are a CWU systems analyst.  Your job for the moment is to draft a list of functional requirements for the next version of MyCWU.  These are just statements of what the system should let the user do.  You have decided that the first student you are going to interview is a student you know very well, named ___________.  (Insert your own name here!  :^)

  1. During the interview, ask this student (yourself) what feature of MyCWU is most in need of improvement.  Is it the Academic Requirements Report?  Is it Enrollment?  Or is there some new feature that MyCWU requires, something that’s not there yet?  Or is there some combination of features that are sort-of there, but which would be much better if they worked together?  (Like the ability to see your remaining graduation requirements and alongside those to see the courses available in the coming quarter which would satisfy those requirements, with a button to get enrolled in the ones the student chooses.)
  2. Then within that particular important area of improvement, brainstorm with the student what their real, specific needs are.  Make a list of these improved capabilities.  (In real life you would go on to interview different kinds of students, faculty, and staff, to get a more complete list.  One student’s list is enough for this Module 2 assignment.)
  3. After the student can’t think of any more new requirements, prioritize the list.  Which requirements should be given to the software engineers first, to be delivered back for students to use before next quarter?  (Usually doing this will help the student also think of some more requirements to add to the list.  Prioritize those along with the others.)
  4. Turn in a Word document below, with a description of the missing capability and your prioritized list of specific requirements for what the capability should let students do.

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