Seeking Information

It is always necessary to acquire, assemble, or create some new form of information in a design activity. While there are many possible starting examples, we begin here with the outreach process. In computer software skill and capability the ability to interact with customers distinguishes system analysts from coders and programmers. (System analysts are generally higher-level, better-paid posts.)

1. Make the design serve a real purpose. Find something you need to have or a client whose job is interesting.

Solicit information by email, telephone, or personal visit. Conduct an interview. Write up your notes. Distill them into a project or task description. If the subject of your design meets a real need it is very likely that it will be possible for other clients to find ways to use the new tool you create.

2. Describe the overall job. Your objective is to do something useful to someone. The project description is a written statement that describes how several people will work to do that.

That can mean creating a new product. The project description says just what you're all about doing. Keep the statement short and make it clear. Some people like the acronym kiss to help remember the formula keep it simple (stupid).

3. Delimit steps to accomplishing the project. One can do more with the help of others. Break the project into tasks or parts.

Each part should have a general statement, definite start and finish times (deadlines), and deliverables. Some use the term sow for statement of work or the reverse order, work statement. An equivalent is a task description.

4. Devise a plan.You need to manage your self and the project process.

Establish benchmarks: things that need to be done; and milestones, signals that progress occurs. Some describe this process by the phrase from aviation, plan the flight and fly the plan

Some real world ideas or programs that became general products follow.
Application Product Company Domain
Checkbook-visual-interfaceQuicken Intuit Finance
Management of space images. VICAR JPL Betting
Spreadsheet application programs First One Visicalc Computing
Instant Messaging ICQ Mirabellis Buddy Communications