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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why do IT people make forms and procedures an after thought?

After forty plus years in the business I'm still amazed at how many IT people think forms and procedures are unimportant.

Go to a meeting and talk to analysts and as soon as the subject comes up their eyes glaze over as if it is too childish to discuss. When we tell them we design forms and write procedures they generally aren't the slightest bit interested.

Sometimes I come across someone who understands as I did recently at a meeting at IBM, but that is rare indeed.

Yet how many systems have you come across that don't do what they are supposed to do because the data collection part of the system doesn't work properly. Most systems start and often finish with forms. They often need forms during the process as well. The trouble is that IT people tend to think that because it is on a computer screen, the form is no longer a form. Yet the same general principles apply as for paper forms. Even worse are the forms often created by web designers who think that they are different again. There are some technical differences due to the way people use the screens over paper entry, but these are only minor compared to issues such as getting the language and data entry sequence right.

I often tell such people that if they don't think forms analysis is a big subject then why does it take a 500 page text book to tell people how to do it?

You'd think that after nearly 50 years of business computing and having systems fail over and over again, that they'd learn some lessons.

When will they ever learn that if they want their computer system to work properly for the end users, then they should get the forms and procedures right FIRST—before they start writing code?

When will they ever learn that forms analysis and procedures analysis are specialised professions?

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