A User-Centric Typology of Information System Requirements

A User-Centric Typology of Information System Requirements

Adarsh Satindarlal Kakar (Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/JOEUC.2016010103


Keeping in view the increasing importance of users in shaping and acceptance of Information Systems (IS) products, there is a need for deeper understanding of IS user requirements. However, currently there is a gap in IS literature. Virtually no theory-based Typological Scheme (TS) exists for IS user requirements. And a typology is widely acknowledged as the first step towards understanding a phenomenon (). Using concepts from inter-disciplinary review of research in the areas of requirements engineering, product quality, and customer satisfaction this study explores the possibility of developing a TS suitable to the IS context. The proposed TS scheme, iteratively constructed, through literature review and experimentation demonstrates promise. The requirement types identified in the suggested TS are found to have both theoretical and empirical support and have useful implications for future research as well as practice.
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IS (Information Systems) products are developed with the goal of satisfying user needs and requirements (Alves, 2003). Further, the set of user requirements implemented into the product is a primary determinant of end-user satisfaction (Karlsson and Ryan, 1996), and a measure of value provided by the IS product (Calisir and Calisir, 2004). Yet, currently there is a gap in IS research. Virtually no theory based typological scheme exists for user requirements. A well-constructed typology is widely acknowledged as the first step towards understanding a phenomenon. It is useful for bringing order out of chaos and forms the foundation for both theorizing and empirical research (Bailey, 1994). Typological theories also help connect archetypes to critical outcomes (George and Bennet, 2005).

But to develop a reliable user-centric typology of IS requirements the following questions have to be addressed: Are user requirements a homogenous category or are there multiple types each with their own distinctive characteristics? What are the widely used requirement types used in literature? Are these requirement types intuitive? Are they easily comprehensible to requirement gatherers and developers of IS products? Can these requirement types be easily identified? Are they relevant in the context of developing IS products aligned with user needs? Are they empirically supported? Are they based on a strong theoretical foundation? Do they meet the criteria for a good Typological Scheme (TS)? Do they have explanatory power to explain the hitherto unexplained phenomenon?

Getting answers to these questions was a long iterative process involving a multi-disciplinary review of literature and experimentation. The study began in 2009 with a search in IS literature for a suitable theory based Typological Scheme (TS). Not finding substantial success in IS literature in identifying a typological theory the quest then led to a search in product quality and customer satisfaction literatures resulting in the discovery of a two factor and a three factor theory of product attributes. On further analysis, the three factor theory also known as Kano (Kano, Seraku, Takahashi and Tsuji, 1984) theory of attractive quality seemed most promising.

The acceptance of the theory of attractive quality has increased over the past 25 years (Lofgren and Witell, 2008). Empirical studies have shown its relevance to Information Systems (IS) products (Zhang and von Dran, 2002; Lehtola and Kauppinen, 2006). A pilot study was nevertheless conducted with users of Astrid, a task planning application, to explore the potential of the three factor theory in developing a suitable typology of IS requirements. The results of the pilot were encouraging and led to a search back in literature for theoretical underpinnings of the three factor theory to examine why it works.

It was found that although presented as a theory, and supporting empirical evidence found for its postulations in multiple studies, the theoretical bases for the archetypes in the three factor theory are not expounded. However, in a revisit of IS literature, the ISO 8402-1986 classification, which was earlier overlooked in favor of the three factor theory, and which has limitations compared to the three factor theory, provided valuable insight. Extending the ISO 8402-1986 classification of user requirements, and utilizing the widely accepted Expectancy-Disconfirmation paradigm, a TS was developed that not only had a firm theoretical foundation but demonstrated empirical support as well in a subsequent experimental study.

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