Intoduction to Methodology

by jalal mjadli

As I wrote in the last article, to resolve a problem we call our knowledge and experience, we exploit their in the perfect way to achieve our goal. But to do this we need a road map, this map is our working methodology. In this article, I try to introduce the concept.

In general, when we want to do something, we have to determinate it, we should have a motivation and know when we want to do it,  and finally we look for the How.
This is the concept in its most simple presentation. For an engineer who has to give a professional solution, this concept must be unified for two reasons:

  1. To express their ideas in a scientific and rational way
  2. To be able to communicate these ideas to other engineers and all other interesting people without any conflict and ambiguity

So he has to identify, understand, interpret the problem constraints to produce a successful solution.

And to do this, he has to find responses to next questions:

  • What ? »»» what we want to do, we have to determinate clearly our Goal, and the functionalities must be implemented by our solution (Specifications and Constraints)
  • Why ?»»» we have to determinate the motivation behind this solution
  • When ?»»» we have to determinate a date to achieve this Goal (Dead Line)
  • How ?»»» we have to propose a way to implement the solution, and the response on this question describes our working methodology, and it is the most important one (Methodology)

Those questions are asked in a global level and in the detailed levels:

  • In the global level, they permit to mark the big lines of our work.
  • In the detailed levels, they help us to find a good implementation of our solutions.

I my opinion, the must important step is : to determinate the need and analyze it.
The analysis phase is a crucial phase that must be done correctly and  with the minimum possible error, because if we go forward in time, the error detection and its correction become more expensive…and we lost.
I ‘ll be focused on this step given its importance and its impact on the project.

Of course, in this phase engineer can construct a theoretical model that can be a mathematical one (and definitive in many times), but he has to implement it and do a series of test to validate the solution. If the analysis phase is done well, and although he faces failure in the validation tests, the cost of correction will be minimized. Because he has simply compare the result obtained during test phase with that provided in the analysis, then he close the gap by rethinking the proposed implementation, in the majority of cases the error is detected here (in the Implementation part), but sometimes we are obliged to recheck the Analysis, and in  rare cases we are obliged to re-think the Specifications in the limits to have the same results and functionalities in the end.

So the general approach can be presented as follows:

To make a good analysis of the problem and its solution, many methods exist. Their common philosophy is Divide and Conquer.
I cite here two methods that I will detail later :

  1. The SADT method : or the Structured Analysis and Design Technique, it permits to analyze a system by dividing it to elementary functions to describe the technical solution to implement. It is useful to define user’s need for an  IT development, and also to describe the industrial processes and  procedures.
  2. The FAST method : or the Function Analysis System technique, by using this method the engineer can transform the product services functions to technical functions. The method proposes an interrogative approach to find solution by finding responses to the famous questions «What?When?and How?»

This article was a brief introduction to the working methodology. In the next articles, I’ll give more details about The SADT and the FAST methods.

 

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© All rights are reserved to the author. Any use of this article is permitted in the context of teaching and non-profit activity.

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