Information Requirement Determination

An information requirement is a description of an organisation’s information needs to fulfil its responsibilities and to support users in performing tasks relating to those responsibilities and to facilitate timely decision- making.

The Information requirement can be defined as the statement of the Information that is very detailed in the nature. In the Information requirement, it is very important to identify the who, what, where, when, why and how.

Information requirement determination (IRD) according to IBM (2005) is the most critical phase of information system development.

“If an information requirement is stated improperly to begin with, then everything else that follows will be incorrect (Bryce Law).”  Alberts 2003 suggests that defining information requirements is perhaps the most critical aspect of systems development, yet it is the Achilles’ heel of most developers today and an area where they typically spend the least amount of time. Consequently, considerable effort and money is lost developing an elegant system for the wrong problem and, as such, developers spend in inordinate amount of time re-writing systems until they get it right.

The process of identifying and meeting information requirements means linking the information user to the appropriate information and/or information service. Through understanding of the factors affecting the task performance of the user, his/her information requirements will be properly understood (Kriel, 2009).

How does one go about identifying an information requirement?  The following serves as a brief summary:

  • Scope?
    • Quick and dirty (walk in request); Reference Interview.
    • Enterprise & system wide; Information Requirement Determination.
  • When?
    • As a research project.
    • As part of the definition phase of an IT project.
    • As an ad hoc requirement.
  • Who?
    • Executed by information professionals.
    • Supported by business representatives.
    • For general or specific information clients.
  • Purpose?
    • To determine who needs what information, in what format, when, for what purpose, extracted from where, using what rules, etc
    • To build the link between a client needing information and the technology environment.
    • To ensure that the usable information is made available in right format, to the right user, on time.
    • To ensure repeatability due to the identification of business rules.
  • How?
    • Formulate the business information problem. A business information problem is like the foundation of a building. The type and design of the building is dependent upon the foundation.  If it is well formulated you can expect a good investigation to follow.
    • Identify the champion and stakeholders.
    • Proposed and decide on options for action. Possible options to address the business information problem are:
    • a content analysis,
    • an information survey, or
    • an interview.
    • Define the information requirement, describe the business rules linked to the requirement and present the deliverable, for example as a report, a research report or a bulletin.
    • Present the information requirement, obtain approval from the client and then hand over to the technical team who will gather the information and present it to the requirement setter.


The Role of Information Management and Information Requirements in a Rapidly Developing Cyber World.

Paper by: Dr CJH (Johan) Coetzee

For: MICSSA 2014

Date: 27 January 2014