Our Evaluation of our Supplier's Demonstration

Overall Impression

The 12-Monkey's demo of our requested program was very professionally done. The script was well reheased and flowed together well. 12-Monkeys demonstrated most of the requested features and security requiements. The level of finish on the program was excellent and the user interface looked easy to use. It would have been of benefit to allow one of our realtor's to try some of the features personally, had time permitted. The screen layout was well done, with the small criticism that it seemed some features were hard to find.

We felt that the interface was very smooth and very easy to use. As consumers, we really liked the ability to see a picture of any particular house which fell within our parameter specifications.

The finished program should more than adequately satisfy the needs of PowerMAX realty. Our relationship with 12-Monkeys software has been excellent. They have actively sought our opinions throughout the entire development process. 12-Monkeys have gone out of their way to fulfill our needs and requirements. PowerMAX realty would like to take this opportunity to thank 12-Monkeys for their terrific software and would be happy to recommend them to anyone.

How The Project Satisfied Our Original Requirements

After viewing the Supplier Group 10's demo, we were very pleased with the result. The system that was presented in the demo certainly satisfied most of our original requirements. Our original requirements had three components - the data requirements, the access levels, and the look and feel. All the data that we had originally wanted were there. The access levels were, for the most part, well implemented. It had the 3 modes (Buyer mode, Realtor mode, Adminstrator mode) of access that we were looking for. However, there were problems with the security of data within the Realtor mode. The look and feel of the system were pretty much what we had wanted. It had the map of the city, the 3"x3" picture of the house, and the organization of information we had asked for. However, there were a few functions which were not implemented in the interface which would have made the system much more satisfactory.

As above, we were disappointed with the system's lack of security on the data within the Realtor mode. We had stated in our requirements that the listing realtor and the adminstrator are the only ones permitted to modify the information on a house or property. The system implemented by our supplier group allowed the modification of information by other realtors. We feel that this is a serious problem that should have been taken more seriously by the supplier.

Some of the functions that would have improved the look and feel of the system were: 1) "Next" and "Previous" buttons to browse through the houses 2) multiple pictures of the same house 3) ability in Buyer mode to search by reference number. We had stated clearly that we wanted the "Next" and "Previous" buttons to search thru the houses in our Informal Specification of Requirements. We felt this was an important feature because it allows the user (especially the buyers) to easily browse thru the houses and look at the pictures and info rather than having to point the mouse onto the line containing the house and double clicking as was shown in the demo. We also felt it would be nice to have more than one picture of the house ie. the backyard. As well, we also wanted the user in Buyer mode to be able to search by reference number. This is important function because a buyer might need to look at the information on a particular property again. For example, if a buyer is interested in a particular house and is wondering if it is still on sale, he/she can just search for it by reference number rather than querying it. We realize the supplier elected not to allow the buyer to search by reference # because it would require the use of a keyboard and that it was the supplier's intention to have the buyer only use the mouse to interact with the system. However, we feel that having a keyboard in the Buyer's system can only be for the better. First of all, if would allow more computer-illiterate users to use the system more efficiently by typing in the info rather than using the drop down menus. Also it wil allow user to enter data that might not be specified under the pulldown menus.

Another aspect of the system we were unhappy with was the incoherentness of the system. We wanted a system that would allow the user to switch between the three modes. For example, if a buyer was viewing a house with a realtor, the realtor can log onto Realtor mode at that same terminal to access info necessary to help the buyer. The realtor should not have to bring the buyer into his office or log out of the Buyer mode before being able to access Realtor mode. We had asked for this feature in our reply to the supplier's Functional Spec and Management Plan.

Despite all these subtractions from our original requirements, the supplier group did provide us with many features which we did not specify. For example, the implementation of the Help system, especially the dynamic help, were great. The system also allowed deleting of a listing and deleting of a realtor which were not specified by us.

Evaluation of Customer/Supplier Interaction and the Design Process

We believe the Design process ascribed to in the project section of this course, although set up in a logical manner in an attempt to facilitate a smooth transition from a general product specification to an actual supplier demo, was a hindrance rather than a catalyst for customer/supplier interaction.

Too much time was spent by the Supplier Group in writing 80, 60, and 40 page documents and not enough time was spent interacting with the Customer Group and evaluating what exactly the requirements were as the project began to be developed.

With the pressures placed upon the Supplier Group as the process requirements demanded larger and more verbose descriptions of the process, interface, design and user manual, less time was spent conversing with the customer group in order to achieve an understanding of their concerns and requirements.

Instead of encouraging understanding, cooperation, and clarification of the design, the documentation required by the process facilitated discourse amongst the customer and supplier groups. Long, verbose documents, which were read only by a few in the customer group, were of little help in providing an understanding of how the customer were attempting to facilitate our requirements. The rebuttals required by the customer groups to the supplier design often fell on deaf ears. Case in point: our Overall Design Document evaluation and User Manual evaluation both referred to the need for the customer be able to access a house listing by reference number while they are in customer mode. At the demo, this requirement was never met and when asked about it we were told that WE had requested that it not be included!

Necessary Design Process Modifications

Reduced Document Length.

Simply by reducing the required length of a design document more time can be spent in actually making changes to actual design. This would be more encouraging from the customer's point of view as well. More people would be willing to read a 40 page document than an 80 page one.

Scheduled Customer/ Supplier Meetings.

Although earlier in the project there was one lab scheduled for interaction between the supplier and customer groups, we felt this was insufficient and was too early in the process to help aid design. If there were regularly scheduled meetings, where attendance was mandatory and minutes were taken, there would be less confusion about the requirements and the supplier would not be confused about our needs. More importantly, a rapport would develop between the two groups and this would facilitate cooperation and understanding instead of looking through some document.

User Manual and the demo.

Many modifications were made between the posting of the user manual and the actual demo. If the user manual was posted days instead of a month before the actual demo, the customer would be more clued into what to expect from the system before the demo took place.

Final note

By encouraging dialog between the supplier and customer groups, a greater understanding of the requirements would be achieved by the supplier and the customer would feel more involved in the design process, instead of being demoted to critiquing some document posted on the internet. More emphasis on customer/supplier group cooperation in the design of the system and decreasing the regularity and length of documentation required would greatly aid in production of a system that meets the needs of the customer.