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I would like to see this discussion move toward interview techniques. Some
of our greatest challenges for data capture involve human factors.
I document internally written software applications for semiconductor
I make sure that the SME demonstrates the application at my workstation. We
can't talk about how something works in a meeting room without a computer,
and I know the application will work at the SME's computer.
To better control the human factors, I also use Lotus ScreenCam to record
every word the SME says and every movement on the monitor. That way I have a
record of everything the SME does to complete a procedure, and I am watching
and listening instead of frantically drawing pictures and taking notes. With
the application in front of us, the SME can't skip steps.
As the SME is babbling on about how this process hits the server
intermittently (or whatever), my mind is free to keep asking questions like,
"So what is the user trying to accomplish with this procedure?" It keeps
both of us on track.
I go back through the ScreenCam movie, and most of the time, the first draft
of the documentation is a snap.
1. High geek appeal factor. No one has ever objected to being recorded; in
fact, they think it's really cool.
2. Sometimes the SME demonstrates procedures that I do not have the
administrative rights to perform myself. I can usually document these
procedures from the ScreenCam movie, and even take screen shots of what the
SME was doing, without having to get access myself.
I don't have any financial interest in Lotus, and there are several other
software tools that work like ScreenCam. It's just really helped me write
faster and ask better questions at the same time.