I earned a new college degree last year, it’s an associate’s degree, but as I gleefully like to point out, the public university system must take them on a one-for-one basis, so I am about halfway done with earning a postbac in Computer Science over at PSU.  All debt free, thanks to my grant-writing abilities.  One of the courses I ended up taking was in Systems Analysis. Which is essentially project management. Since I had to post to every discussion forum in order to get class participation, I thought I’d post those discussion questions below. The questions for the discussion posts are in blue and my answers are in black.  So without further ado, here is the first in a long series of posts related to systems analysis discussion questions I had to write for this class and all the other classes.


1.     In Poor Richard’s Almanac, Benjamin Franklin penned the familiar lines: “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, for the want of a battle the kingdom was lost – and for all the want of a horseshoe nail.” Looking at the outcome in hindsight, could project management concepts have avoided the loss of the kingdom? Explain your answers. Respond in at least 250 words.

It’s funny, I always think of The Nail, the Elseworlds Superman comic book. It covers what would happen if Superman never joined the scene. Anyway, the big lesson I’d take away from this would be to understand your team and what everyone contributes. And be aware with the process and what you are doing. Don’t cut corners and stick to best practices.

Yes, project management concepts would help with this. I think the object-oriented process would have helped well. When I toured the Toyota factory in Shizuoka, Japan, every car maker was given a small pan or cup with exactly the number of screws and parts it needed to install or work on that section of the car. And each lineman was empowered to stop the assembly line if they found anything to be amiss.  It’s a system that works well.

Empower your employees to be the best they can be and to make the decisions that need to be made and you might just surprise yourself.

2.     A group meeting sometimes is suggested as a useful compromise between interviews and questionnaires. In such a group meeting, one systems analyst meets with and asks questions of a number of users at one time. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such a group meeting. Respond in at least 250 words.

Yes, project. Group meetings? Group interviews are horrible and quite quickly turn into a game of “stump the chump”. I’ve never had a group interview that wasn’t just a cattle call whose true purpose would be find a warm body.  But I suppose it could be a difference in this context. I know that individual interviews and questionnaires are a lengthy, time-consuming process, but most people find it very difficult to truly speak their minds about something, no matter how passionate they are about the subject. Important and valuable insights could be lost or minimized.

The important thing to remember is that in group settings, group dynamics are in play. Most people are not leaders, most people are not willing to make noise.

So in short, I support the idea of group meetings with the caveat that the other methods are better, but group meetings are a more effective use of time. I have been in product focus groups where the group setting did work marvelously well; it inspired new realms of thought about the nature of tablets and styli (which I can’t reveal thanks to an NDA).


I’m John Grillo and I approve of these questions and answers.