The specification of information technology systems gives emphasis to functional needs, but most specification methods have difficulty making formal and explicit a variety of non-functional needs; these may be critical if the system is to be acceptable in an organisational environment. Such needs may be on behalf of the whole user organisation, such as requirements for dependability, flexibility, and compatibility. They may also arise from the needs of end-users for systems which are usable and acceptable, that is, which do not threaten privacy, job satisfaction, health, etc. Studies of the IT uptake process often demonstrate that it is these very factors which can prevent implementation or encourage disuse.
The ORDIT project aims to produce a computer-based methodology that will enable design teams to make explicit non-functional requirements for their product or system. The methodology will use concepts at the organisational and work-role levels of description to represent such requirements, and will contain a database of standards, models and knowledge about the characteristics and needs of different classes of computer user. The methodology will also facilitate the testing of proposed technical solutions for matching with organisational requirements, and for their implications within the organisational environment.
As part of its work on enterprise modelling ORDIT has developed a range of educational and training materials to publicise its work and to educate organisations in the potential of enterprise modelling and the benefits it could bring to them. The internationalisation of ORDIT takes the form of a pilot seminar held in a major European capital, which involves the preparation of foreign language materials and presentations, sales and marketing in the target countries, and the provision of facilities with which to stage the seminar.
The construction of this methodology will be by a user-centred, iterative development process. The participants will be organisational theorists and human factors specialists working with system software specialists. Early prototypes of the core of the methodology will be produced and subjected to user testing. The methodology will thereafter undergo several rounds of modification, extension and progressively more rigourous and realistic user testing. This process is to ensure the resultant methodology not only meets the functional needs of design teams, but also meets their non-functional requirements for acceptable and usable tools.
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