Chapter Three: The Project Approach
Data gathering methods
Six sources of information contributed to the project design, operation, and evaluation. Each source offered a different kind of information useful for different purposes. Together, these sources provided a comprehensive set of data to support the project activities and results.
Current practice review. In order to better understand the complexities of G2G work, CTG conducted current practice research by posting messages on professional listservs, searching the Web, and conducting telephone interviews with officials around NYS and in other states engaged in similar state-local initiatives. This background research uncovered some interesting limited efforts whose experiences were useful in our design. Some supported G2G information access, but not business processes. Others focused on a single program or program area such as human services. One involved state-supplied tools and standards to help localities develop their own Web services. However, no multi-agency, multi-purpose, business-driven G2G initiative was discovered.
Baseline documents. Field testers were asked to fill out a baseline questionnaire prior to testing the Gateway Prototype. The questionnaire documented their current practices and workload relevant to the business transactions or programmatic areas in the Prototype. This information allowed us to make comparisons between existing practices and workload and the alternatives represented by the Prototype.
Process mapping and joint application development sessions. Prototype Team members worked with CTG and corporate partners to map process models and develop user requirements for the applications within the Gateway Prototype. These working sessions provided a forum for the exchange of information within the Prototype Team and with the developers. In this forum, business process modeling was performed, process and workload questions were raised and answered, problems were discussed and clarified, and issues resolved. These sessions defined the applications and the manner in which they would be tested.
Field test workbooks. Field testers used detailed task-oriented workbooks to guide them through the Prototype testing process. All testers were assigned specific roles depending on their job duties and were asked to perform related tasks and complete questions about those tasks. They were then asked their opinions about the use of the Prototype compared to their current way of working in terms of ease of learning and use, navigation, speed, convenience, security, and other topics.
Discussion group notes. Upon completion of the field test, testers were brought together once again in half-day focus groups to discuss and share their experiences using the Prototype. Interview questions are presented in Appendix D. The questions focused on overall lessons, technology, knowledge and skills, data, policy, costs, and strategy. During the discussion groups, testers not only answered questions as individuals but engaged in discussions about their experiences that shed additional light on the Prototype design and the conditions in which any similar system might be deployed.
Help Desk. During the field test, a help desk was established at CTG. All calls were documented and summarized. This information gave us insight into specific problems that users encountered during the testing phase.