Using group support systems and joint application development for requirements specification

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Using group support systems and joint application development for
requirements specification

Liou, Yihwa Irene
,

Chen, Minder
.

Journal of Management Information
Systems
.

Armonk:

Winter 1993
-
1994
.

Vol.

10,

Iss.

3;


pg.

25,

17

pgs


Abstract


The increasing use of integrated computer
-
aided softwa
re engineering (CASE)
environments is shifting the bottleneck of systems development from physical design and
coding to upstream activities, particularly requirements specification. Analysis is
presented of the use of group support systems (GSS) and joint
application development
(JAD) in the context of CASE environments to facilitate the requirements specification
process. Examination is offered of the relevance of GSS, JAD, and CASE to
requirements specification. An integrated framework is proposed that is

augmented by a
domain
-
analysis methodology. Results of a pilot study that evaluated 2 process models
using tools of a GSS, GroupSystems, for requirements specification are discussed.

1. INTRODUCTION

The emphasis of systems development is shifting to the
front end of the systems
development life cycle[12, 20]. One of the major reasons is that errors made in the early
stages of information systems development are costly. Most errors found in the systems
building process can be traced back to incorrect syste
m requirements or misinterpretation
of the correct ones. The cost of correcting erroneous requirements of a system in its
operation stage is at least a hundred times greater than correcting them at the
requirements definition stage[3]. The advent of applic
ation generators and code
generators greatly reduces the programming effort required for building information
systems. The increasing use of integrated computer
-
aided software engineering (CASE)
environments is shifting the "bottleneck" of systems developm
ent from physical design
and coding to upstream activities, particularly requirements specification. Therefore, the
challenge of systems development has become "building the right system by defining the
right one" instead of "building the system right."

Ma
ny people are involved in developing a complicated software project because no one
possesses all the knowledge required. Domain
-
specific knowledge about an application
and its environment as well as technical knowledge about systems development have to
be
incorporated into a cohesive framework to create a good software requirements
specification (SRS)[1]. The elicitation of requirements is a collaborative effort among
managers, users, and system analysts. One of the major factors that causes
misunderstandin
gs in the systems development process is the complexity of the
communication and decision making among members of a project team[5], and
communication breakdowns are most likely to occur when requirements are elicited from
a heterogeneous group.

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Traditiona
lly, the requirements specification process is conducted by systems analysts
through a series of one
-
on
-
one interviews with users and/or managers. However,
difficulties in conducting serial interviews with users/managers individually to identify
system req
uirements include: (1) it is a lengthy and time
-
consuming process; (2) users
and managers may have conflicting definitions and perceptions of a system's problems
and objectives. These conflicts must be resolved by individual members through several
iterati
ons of follow
-
up interviews. Sometimes, as when one person misinterprets
another's statements and assumes that they are in agreement, a conflict may not even be
recognized to exist. (3) The integration of users' views into a coherent set of system
requirem
ents is particularly difficult because of the diversity of users' backgrounds and
differing usage of terminology.

Since the development of information systems has long been recognized as a joint effort
among systems developers, users, and managers, the nee
d to support collaborative
activities during the application development process is evident. Though CASE tools
have been used in various stages during the systems development life cycle to improve
software productivity, there is no direct support in most C
ASE tools for direct
interactions among project team members. However, group support systems (GSS), an
emerging technology designed to facilitate human interactions, may be used separately or
in combination with joint application development (JAD), a facil
itated systems
development methodology, to support collaboration among project team members in the
applications development process. The purpose of this article is to explore ways to
integrate GSS and JAD with CASE tools to improve the effectiveness of req
uirements
specification. Next, we discuss enabling technologies for requirements specification.

2. ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES FOR REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION

Several technologies are available for supporting the requirements specification process.
CASE tools des
igned to support the system development life cycle include analysis,
design, code generation, and documentation. JAD may be considered as a facilitation
method for supporting systems development meetings. GSS address the need for an
electronic meeting envi
ronment that provides support for collaboration in the systems
development process. The current status of these technologies and their relevance to
requirements specification are discussed in this section.

2.1. COMPUTER
-
AIDED SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

Upper CAS
E tools are designed to support systems planning, analysis and logical
design[10]. They are used in the application of various structured techniques including
data modeling using entity relationship diagrams, process modeling using data flow
diagrams, and
structured design using structure charts. Each structured technique
supports the modeling of only one or two aspects of a system, however. Structured texts,
structured graphics, and matrices are the representation formats used in most CASE
products to pres
ent the specification of a target system. Structured graphics are used
extensively to support the graphic notations employed by structured techniques while
structured texts are very useful in listing detailed information about a system. Matrices
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can be use
d very effectively to show binary relationships between two types of entities
used in information systems planning. Additional functions provided by several CASE
tools are requirements traceability, consistency and completeness checking, and project
reposi
tory. It is assumed by CASE vendors that systems analysts are able to elicit
requirements from users in informal formats and then to translate and specify those
requirements using the formal specification languages supported by CASE tools.

Most existing CA
SE environments, however, do not explicitly provide a mechanism to
facilitate software project meetings[10]. They do provide version and configuration
control mechanisms via check
-
in and check
-
out procedures that allow several systems
developers working on

the same project to share information stored in a repository.
However, these mechanisms are only used by systems developers and are designed to
prevent them from directly interacting with each other. Support for requirements
elicitation (particularly in a

group meeting) is a critical functionality missing from
existing CASE research and products[9]. Davy[13, p. 15] stated that "current
implementations of CASE tool technology encourage an individual approach to work,
even if they provide multi
-
user capabili
ty. However, analysts improve the quality of their
work by discussing and reviewing it with colleagues. CASE tools are useful, but they are
no substitute for interactive group discussion. Until more responsive interfaces are
available we will only be able
to make limited use of them."

There is increasing use of JAD
-
like facilitated meetings for building systems using CASE
tools. JAD workshops provide an interactive group discussion mechanism for project
team members to define system requirements. Increasing
ly, CASE tools are used directly
during JAD sessions at the back end to document the information generated during these
sessions. The essentials of JAD are explained in the next section.

2.2. JOINT APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT (JAD)

While the need to support co
llaborative requirements elicitation exists, there are very few
systems development methodologies that directly support group interactions in face
-
to
-
face meetings. Joint application development (JAD), also known as joint application
design, a group
-
orient
ed analysis and design methodology originally developed by
IBM

in 1977, is an exception [2, 6, 34]. This methodology features an intensive structured
workshop where participating end users are assisted by information systems personnel
and guided by an expe
rienced session leader. The leader has previously interviewed
managers and users to define the scope and objectives of the project and determine who
should be participants of a JAD workshop.

A JAD workshop usually lasts for three to five days and consists
of many sessions. It is
usually initiated by an executive sponsor who is the owner of the system project and who
also is responsible for resolving major conflicts, if any, during a JAD session. Typically,
JAD session leaders use overhead projectors to pres
ent information collected during the
JAD preparation phase and use flip charts and magnetic cards to capture informal
requirements generated by the soup. Scribes translate and document the requirements
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captured in the session, using standardized forms. Man
y organizations recently have
started using prototyping tools or CASE tools to support JAD workshops[4, 6, 24].

The success of a JAD workshop relies mainly on the skills of the session leader in
managing processes, applying structured techniques to facilit
ate the group's deriving
requirements, and handling the group's dynamics. Documents generated from the
workshop include screen and report formats, definitions of entities and data elements, a
description of work flows, and specification of systems function
s. JAD not only provides
an environment for more thorough recall of key requirements but also encompasses
perspectives from different functional areas and from users and managers[33].

In summary, the essentials of JAD are (1) a focused workshop facilitated

by JAD leaders
and scribes, (2) users' participation and management's commitment, (3) the development
of shared requirements and design specifications, (4) application of structured procedures
and methods, and (5) an accelerated approach to meeting a spec
ific time frame. Moreover,
JAD provides the following benefits: (1) reduced time and cost in requirements elicitation,
(2) improved communication among project team members, (3) provision of appropriate
channels to resolve conflicts and build consensus, an
d (4) improved quality of workshop
outcomes, such as flow charts, screen designs, and systems specifications.

There are some problems with the traditional JAD, however. First, all JAD participants
may not be equally involved. Only the comments of the most
vocal may be captured.
Second, analysts are limited in their ability to judge group consensus in real time. Third,
the products of the workshop have to be compiled and documented manually which can
be very time
-
consuming. These problems would largely be re
solved by using GSS during
facilitated JAD sessions. First, participation would be encouraged and enhanced with the
anonymity feature of GSS, at the same time the communication bandwidth is expanded
by adding an electronic communication channel to the verb
al communication channel.
Second, evaluation tools such as rating and voting can be used to assess group consensus
in a timely fashion. Third, the discussions and deliverables of the workshop can be
captured by GSS. Compilation and documentation become unn
ecessary.

2.3. GROUP SUPPORT SYSTEMS (GSS)

Group support systems (GSS) are integrated computer and communication systems that
support group work. Other common terms referring to the same concept include, but are
not limited to, groupware, group decision su
pport systems, and collaboration technology.
GSS facilitate communications, coordination, and decision making by structuring the
processes and contents of teamwork. The goals of a GSS are to reduce the process loss
associated with disorganized activity, me
mber dominance, social pressure, inhibition of
expression, and other difficulties commonly encountered in groups and, at the same time,
to increase the efficiency and quality of the end results [14, 28, 31]. Research findings on
the impacts of GSS on group
s have shown that the use of a GSS increases task
-
oriented
communication [16, 31], the quality of decisions, and group members' satisfaction and
confidence[15].

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There is an increasing trend toward using computer and communication systems to
support such gr
oup techniques as brainstorming. Recent developments in CSCW and
GDSS are rooted in earlier efforts to support collaborative work in software development
[14, 18]. GSS have been proven useful in such tasks as idea generation[25, 26], business
planning[15],

crisis management[27], and knowledge acquisition[22, 23]. GSS
technologies make group meetings more productive by supporting rapid access to
information and message exchanges, by providing better group memory management and
feedback, and by facilitating m
ore structured group interaction processes[29]. Groups
supported by GSS technologies are able to use more complex group modeling tools to
create and explore a wider range of alternatives[17]. In addition, using a GSS often
increases participation, reduces
meeting time, and improves the quality of meeting results,
especially when large groups are involved in complicated tasks[14, 15].

Examples of commercialized GSS include Ventana's GroupSystems VTM, Lotus
NotesTM, and VisionQuestTM. GroupSystems VTM provide
s a set of tools to facilitate
electronic meetings, same time/place or different time/place. These tools include
Electronic Brainstorming, Idea Organization, Voting, Group Matrix, GroupOutliner,
Team Graphic, and GroupWriter[19]. Lotus NotesTM is a group c
ommunication product
that allows people to create, assemble, organize, distribute, and access shared information.
Notes is appropriate for the development of document
-
oriented and mail
-
enabled
applications, such as customer tracking and group discussion[30
]. VisionQuestTM
provides tools organized under an executable agenda to facilitate face
-
to
-
face as well as
dispersed group meetings[32]. These tools include Brainwriting, Comment Cards, Rating,
Ranking, and Scoring. Most GSS are designed to provide collabo
ration support to
business teams in communication, coordination, planning, decision making, project
management, and document preparation. In addition, they have been used to elicit
requirements from project team members and acquire knowledge from experts[2
2].

3. USING GSS TO SUPPORT JAD AND CASE

Research results indicating positive outcomes of using GSS for systems development
activities have made it appear that an ideal approach would be to employ the JAD
methodology with appropriate GS S tools to support
requirements elicitation. Therefore,
equal participation may be achieved, group consensus may be assessed in real time, and
semiformal specifications may be generated in group meetings and recorded
electronically [21]. Moreover, results from requirements e
licitation sessions can be
exported and transformed into specific formats supported by existing CASE tools to
speed up the systems development process.

3.1. A FRAMEWORK

The trend toward user involvement in systems development, particularly in requirements
analysis and specification, has been accelerated by the advent of CASE tools and the use
of prototyping in systems building. Requirements elicitation calls for intensive
interactions among system developers and users in face
-
to
-
face meetings in the softwar
e
development process[11]. Systems developers are better able to work closely with users
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in defining system requirements when it is possible to show them CASE tools
-
generated
graphical models that represent the system's functionality and structures.

Tradit
ional serial requirements elicitation techniques such as interviews, questionnaires,
and observations are appropriate only for eliciting individual views and requirements of a
system from users. It is very difficult to apply these techniques to a large
-
sca
le project
due to miscommunications among project members and the amount of time required by
the conflict resolution process. Group techniques can be used to facilitate the
requirements elicitation from groups, however. Structured Brainstorming Systems[20]

which has been implemented in GroupSystemsTM[28], is one example of the use of such
techniques.

An ideal approach may be to employ GSS in JAD sessions to accelerate the requirements
elicitation. Figure 1 depicts an overview of the integration of GSS and J
AD into a CASE
environment. Systems specifications, screen designs, and flow charts generated during
the GSS
-
supported JAD sessions can then be used as inputs to CASE tools for formal
systems specifications, code generation, and documentation.


Many GSS
applications have consistently fallen short of expectations, and conflicting
reports of the usefulness of GSS to facilitate various group activities call attention to the
importance of adopting a methodological approach to using GSS[29]. The success of
GSS

may depend on the nature of the application domains in which they are introduced
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and the methodologies employed in using them. The existence of a methodology for
guiding the use of GSS possibly could have prevented earlier possible misuse and abuse
of GSS
. Based on our experiences in using GSS in knowledge elicitation, systems
analysis and design, and business planning, we have developed a domain analysis
methodology (DAM), which is independent of any specific GSS, to support requirement
elicitation using
GSS, JAD, and CASE tools.

3.2. A DOMAIN ANALYSIS METHODOLOGY

A methodology consists of a predetermined set of tasks grouped into stages and
supported by various techniques, methods, and tools (figure 2). The domain analysis
methodology (DAN is composed of

a set of methods and tools to assist users in analyzing
the domain and to match appropriate group support tools to the processes of various
group activities. In essence, this methodology is designed to make it possible to examine
the problem faced by a gr
oup in such a way that GSS can be used appropriately to
facilitate group meetings. DAM has been developed by incorporating knowledge
engineering and software engineering principles and techniques to support the group
process of information systems analysis

and design. Requirements elicitation can be
viewed as knowledge acquisition activities in which participants contribute individual
understandings of the application domain of an information system. A requirements
engineer should be designated to manage th
e requirements elicitation process using DAM.
The six stages are described below.


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1. SCOPE THE PROJECT. The primary tasks involve defining project scope and
identifying stakeholders. DAM is user
-
driven. The identification of systems problems is
the first

step. In addition, stakeholders (i.e., individuals, organization units, and outside
entities) who have stakes and different aspects of problem domain should be identified.
Requirements engineers should work with several key persons and experts in the doma
in
to define the scope of the project and to determine schedule and allocate resources. The
results of this stage should be: a well
-
defined project scope, a list of stakeholders, a
preliminary description of the problem domain, and a temporary project sche
dule and
resources allocation plan.

2. DETERMINE REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION PROCESS. The procedure for
defining the requirements specification process involves: (1) identifying the requirements
to be acquired and their sources and (2) selecting specificati
on methods for representing
requirements. Requirements engineers should use the concepts, languages, and
terminologies from the application domain as much as possible to specify the
requirements. The outputs of this stage should include a defined requireme
nts
specification process and selected methods to represent specifications.

3. DESIGN A GROUP PROCESS MODEL TO ELICIT REQUIREMENTS. A group
process model designed at this stage would elicit requirements from various users and
experts. Group tasks should be

determined and sequenced. The interactions among
project team members and the underlying group requirements elicitation process should
be determined. Group communications and interactions should be encouraged so that
group synergy and consensus can emerge

in the group requirements elicitation process. A
sequence of group sessions should be designed to elicit and synthesize requirements
acquired from each participant. Selection of participants and definition of capacity in
which each of them will serve at e
ach session should be defined at this point. The desired
patterns of interactions should be specified, including the specific structures of the
messages to be used by participants in information exchange, the mechanism for sharing
information about the sys
tem specified, conflict resolution strategies, the timing and
constraints of interaction, and the media to be used for communication.

4. SELECT AND CONFIGURE A GSS AND CASE TO SUPPORT THE PROCESS
MODEL. A set of group techniques and group support tools to
facilitate appropriate
group interactions in the process model is defined in this stage. CASE tools should also
be chosen and configured to support the selected specification methods and the group
activities. A domain
-
specific group process model that cons
ists of a sequence of group
activities supported by a set of group support tools to facilitate the acquisition of
requirements should now exist. Information used by and generated from tools can also be
specified. Other preparations for the JAD sessions sho
uld be made at this stage.

5. FACILITATE GSS
-
SUPPORTED JAD SESSIONS. The next stage in DAM would be
to conduct group sessions based on the specified group process model. The appropriately
configured GSS would be used to facilitate group interactions, to ca
pture semistructured
requirements from nontechnical users and managers. Group dynamics in the process
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should be monitored so that unexpected individual and group responses can be managed
promptly.

6. CONCLUDE JAD SESSIONS. To conclude JAD sessions, the sem
iformal
requirements acquired from the requirements specification sessions should be converted
into formal user and engineering requirements specifications, using modeling techniques
supported by existing CASE tools. Use of either the existing import/expor
t facilities in
GSS and CASE or customized software bridges should make the conversion process
much easier. Because information captured in CASE tools can be represented in various
formats and analyzed for completeness and consistency, the results could be

fed back to
the participants for the refinement of the requirements. The finalized specifications
should then be evaluated by the requirements engineers, signed off by the participants,
and stored in the CASE repository for use by other downstream activit
ies in the systems
development life cycle.

DAM has been used to customize GSS to support crisis planning[27], group knowledge
acquisition for an expert system[22, 23], and organizational modeling[8]. It has been
proven to be useful. In DAM, GSS are used to

support requirements elicitation in
facilitated group sessions for systems analysis and design. The methodology can improve
the effectiveness of traditional JAD sessions, particularly in information strategy
planning, business area analysis, and conceptua
l systems design.

The session results can be easily converted into CASE Data Interchange Format
(CDIF)[7] or proprietary formats for specific CASE tools in order to import the session
results directly into CASE tools. Therefore, the nature of the scribe's
job in GSS
-
supported sessions is changing from recording information to operating CASE tools and
GSS tools. JAD facilitators always have been in short supply because they need to have
skills in many different disciplines. With the support of GSS, the cogni
tive burden of
JAD facilitators to manage group dynamics is reduced. Facilitators need less knowledge
about requirements specification processes or methods because the methods are
embedded in the reusable GSS
-
supported group requirements specification proc
ess
models. Less skillful and inexperienced JAD facilitators will be able to run GSS
-
supported JAD sessions successfully.

4. AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTEGRATED APPROACH: A PILOT STUDY

Two aspects of the integrated approach were evaluated in a pilot study. One

pertains to
the sequencing of steps proposed in the DAM and the other pertains to the process
models used to conduct requirements elicitation meetings.

4.1. RESEARCH DESIGN

The primary objectives of the study reported here were (1) to validate steps and a
ctions
specified in the domain analysis methodology in a real project, and (2) to assess
comparative task effectiveness, satisfaction with the meeting process, satisfaction with
the GSS, and group cohesiveness of two process models utilizing various group
tools.
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The independent variable studied was the use of different tools in the process model. The
generic process included four major steps: (1) generating and identifying system
functionalities, (2) prioritizing functionalities, (3) verbally discussing the

prioritized list
to gain group consensus, and (4) expanding detail description and specifications on a few
selected important functionalities (figure 3). Two specific process models were
employed. Groups assigned to process model A used the Electronic B
rainstorming tool
while groups assigned to process model B utilized the Idea Organization tool for step 1.
Both groups used the same tools: Voting and the GroupOutliner, for steps 2 and 4,
respectively.


The dependent variables included task effectiveness
, satisfaction with the meeting
process, satisfaction with the GSS, and group cohesiveness. Task effectiveness was
measured by the quality, manner, content, and outcome of the discussion. Satisfaction
with the meeting process was measured by participants'
perceptions of its efficiency,
coordination, satisfaction, and effectiveness. Satisfaction with the GSS was measured by
participants' feelings about using GroupSystemsTM during the meeting. Group
cohesiveness was measured by how well members of the group f
elt they had worked
together. Both pre
-
and postmeeting questionnaires were collected from participants.
Times to complete the requirements specification session appeared to be very similar;
groups assigned to process model A averaged 75 minutes while group
s assigned to
process model B averaged 70 minutes.

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4.2. SUBJECTS

Twenty
-
eight students from a graduate
-
level AI/expert systems class participated in this
study in the spring semester of 1992 at the University of Baltimore. They were randomly
assisted to se
ven groups of which three were assigned to process model A and four were
assigned to process model B. Each participant played a dual role in this project: as a
potential user of the system and as a system developer.

4.3. TASK

The task was to identify funct
ionalities of an expert student advising system. This was
part of a group project assigned to the class to design and develop a prototype system
using an expert system shell. Participants were given three weeks to accomplish the
whole project. The requirem
ents specification session for each group was scheduled to
last two hours, and an additional meeting could be scheduled if necessary. No groups
scheduled another group session.

4.4. SOFTWARE

GroupSystemsTM was used in the requirements specification session
s. Tools employed
in the meetings included Electronic Brainstorming (EBS) (an idea generation tool), Idea
Organization (an idea generation and consolidation tool), Voting (an evaluation tool), and
GroupOutliner (a tool that uses a hierarchical topic tree t
o allow parallel discussion on
multiple topics). Descriptions of the GroupSystemsTM tools could be found in[14, 28].
The GSS laboratory was equipped with nine PC workstations in a U
-
shaped configuration,
a projection system and a large public screen, and a

high
-
speed laser printer.

4.5. PROCEDURES

All 28 students were required to fill out a pretest questionnaire that collected
demographic data and background information. Each group selected a specific time slot
for holding its requirements specification mee
ting. The same facilitator provided
facilitation for all seven groups.

In the beginning of each requirements elicitation meeting the facilitator welcomed the
group and provided them with a brief introduction to the purpose of the meeting,
described how a G
SS works, and discussed what outcomes were expected. Then the
facilitator paused for a minute or two to answer questions. During the idea generation
phase, a question, "What functionalities do you think the expert student advising system
should have?" was
posted. "A" groups brainstormed on this question using EBS and then
the facilitator assisted the group to consolidate ideas by activating the keyword feature to
identify a list of functionalities. "B" groups followed the nominal group technique and
used th
e Idea Organization tool to generate a private list of functionalities and then as a
group went though a round
-
robin discussion submitting one idea at a time to come up
with a recommended list of functionalities for further evaluation.

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Both groups then mov
ed on to prioritize the list of functionalities using the Voting tool
according to the following instruction: "Rank the list of functionalities based on its
importance to you as a user (student)." The voting results were then discussed and
another iteratio
n of discussion and voting could have taken place. However, no groups
went through another round of discussion and voting. Once the prioritized list was
generated and group consensus achieved, the GroupOutliner tool was used to elicit
additional ideas with

regard to each functionality.

The layout of the GroupOutliner tool is similar to a sideways tree diagram with the root
being the expert student advising system, the first
-
level nodes being functionalities, and
the second
-
level nodes of each functionality
being input, process, and output derived
from the functionality. The input node corresponded to "what information should be
collected?" The process node identified the reasoning process and "what expertise is
required?" The output node mainly provided answ
ers to "what outcome is expected?
--
i.e.,
what does the system present to you?" Each member of the group filled out a posttest
questionnaire after the requirements elicitation meeting. Before the group left the GSS
laboratory, a copy of the meeting output w
as handed to each member. Upon completion
of the whole project, each student was asked to fill out another survey indicating how
well the group worked together.

4.6. RESULTS

Demographic data about the subjects are summarized below. All 28 participants, 14
male
and 14 female, were graduate students (24 in the M.S. in MIS program and 4 in the
M.B.A. program). Their age distribution was as follows: 1 older than 50, 1 between 40
and 49, 9 between 30 and 39, and 17 between 20 and 29. Among them, 5 held full
-
time

positions and 3 worked part
-
time. Seven others had work experience but were not
currently employed. The average years of work experience among those with work
experience was 3.6 years. Fourteen had work experience related to the development of
information

systems and 12 were involved in IS projects as systems analysts/designer,
programmer, or project manager. Eleven had experience with a GSS and only one had
experience with developing a rule
-
based expert system.

Differences between the two groups were insi
gnificant in terms of task effectiveness,
satisfaction with the meeting process, satisfaction with the GSS, and group cohesiveness,
and both groups expressed positive feelings about their experience and recognized
benefits of this approach (see Table 1). (
Table 1 omitted) Both process models appeared
to be effective in helping to complete the assigned task within a reasonable amount of
time. It appeared that task effectiveness and satisfaction with the meeting process and
group cohesiveness were highly corr
elated. Satisfaction with the meeting process was
highly correlated with satisfaction with the GSS and group cohesiveness. Task
effectiveness and satisfaction with the GSS also had a positive correlation (see Table 2).
(Table 2 omitted)

4.7. OBSERVATIONS

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T
he use of the DAM assisted in the development of process models undertaken in this
study. It appeared that it was most useful at the conceptual level to define scope, establish
process models, and configure a GSS. In this study, an expert system shell inst
ead of a
traditional CASE tool was used in the system development process. The output generated
in the requirements specification meeting provided a well
-
established foundation for the
groups to move on, which saved a lot of time at the beginning of the sy
stems
development process. The groups not only identified important functionalities of the
system, but also generated additional detailed design and implementation information.

Interviews with some group members revealed that the GSS
-
supported requirements

elicitation meeting contributed to the success of design and implementation of the
application. Several indicated that it would have taken them at least five times as much
effort without the GSS sessions. A GSS such as GroupSystemsTM allows users and
mana
gers to engage actively in the systems development process. They can jointly define,
discuss, evaluate, and refine the systems specifications using the GSS. The systems
analysts can then transform informal specifications into formal and graphical ones usin
g
CASE tools. The analysis function in CASE tools can be applied to the formal
specifications to identify inconsistency and incompleteness. The requirements elicitation
process described in this section can be generalized and then customized for many other

application domains such as new products development and the development of new
social programs.

5. CONCLUSIONS

Many major information systems failures have been caused by inappropriate involvement
of users and managers, resulting in incomplete or inconsi
stent requirements. Therefore,
there is a growing interest in involving users in the systems development process,
particularly in the planning and analysis phases where conceptual data and process
models of an application or an enterprisewide information s
ystem are defined. Businesses
are also interested in understanding their business processes and reengineering these
processes in order to achieve dramatic quality improvement. Business engineering
requires full participation of managers and reengineered bu
siness process models are the
foundations of information systems developed to support them. We have proposed a
framework to integrate GSS, JAD, and CASE to support requirements specification. Such
an approach can reduce the need for a highly skillful JAD s
ession leader, a kind of
specialist who is always in short supply. The framework would also increase users'
participation and satisfaction in the process.

Results of a pilot study have been presented. Further analysis and follow
-
up studies are
underway to
validate the effectiveness of the proposed approach and using empirical
results to refine our framework. We are also planning to build software bridges based on
CASE Data Interchange Format standards to integrate groupware products and CASE
products.

The c
ontribution of this research is twofold. One benefit pertains to our understanding of
activities and processes in requirements specification, how they may be facilitated by a
14

14

GSS, how they may be structured to achieve the most effectiveness and efficiency,

what
process models may be employed, what features of a GSS are most useful, and how GSS
and JAD are integrated into the domain analysis methodology. The other pertains to the
use of GSS for requirements specification in practice and thus to the improveme
nt of
applications development productivity by making requirements specification more
efficient and effective.

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Yihwa Irene Liou is Assistant Professor of MIS at the University of Baltimore. She holds
a B.A. in philosophy from the National Taiwan University, an M.L.S. from the
University of Southern Mississippi
, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the
University of
Arizona

in management information systems. Her current research interests include
design, use, and the impact of group support systems, joint application design, computer
-
aided software engineering, business applic
ations of expert systems, and knowledge
acquisition techniques. Her published work has appeared in Journal of Management
Information Systems, Journal of Organizational Computing, Journal of Information
Technology Management, Information & Management, Knowl
edge Acquisition, Expert
Systems with Applications, and Data Base. She is a member of the AAAI, ACM, IEEE,
TIMS, and DSI.

Minder Chen received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the National Taiwan
University, an M.B.A. from the National Chiao Tung Univ
ersity, and a Ph.D. in
management information systems from the
University of Arizona
. He is currently
Assistant Professor of M
IS at
George Mason University
. His primary research
interests are computer
-
aided software engineering, collaboration technolog
ies, business
17

17

reengineering, and expert systems development. He has published papers in Journal of
Management Information Systems, Data Base, Journal of Organizational Computing,
Expert Systems with Applications, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data
Eng
ineering, Journal of Small Group Research, and IEEE Software. He is the co
-
guest
editor of the March 1992 IEEE Software special issue on integrated CASE, and CASE
minitrack coordinator of Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences for the
last few

years. He is a member of the IEEE, ACM, and TIMS.

Acknowledgment: This study was partially supported by a research grant from the David
D. Lattanze Center for Executive Studies in Information Systems, Loyola College in
Maryland..