PaperBuilding is a term used increasingly in the not-for-profit sector and press to refer to, “a systematic, comprehensive, and collaboratively drawn-up paper depiction of all aspects of an information system requirement”.
It’s a formulaic, conceptual paper model of the entirety of an information system.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then a PaperBuild replaces a thirty thousand word statement of requirements/specification, and the PaperBuild pictures are so much more tangible than abstract and subjective descriptions.
Paperbuilding uses very simple, very specific pictures, diagrams, and sets of lists to describe the different dimensions of an information system.
Until you’ve tried it you won’t believe how concrete an approach it is, and how empowering it can be for non-technical staff.
PaperBuilding is a vendor-neutral method for working out what you really need from systems for CRM, conference/event booking, publication sales, content management, contact management, membership, e-commerce, etc.
It’s the thing to do at the outset, whether you’re thinking of using a package or developing your own system.
Even if you know exactly what you want, PaperBuilding is a very wise first stage before building because:
a. it will show you whether what you want really stacks up as a coherent system
b. seeing it laid out as a model highlights what you’ve not thought about (there’s always something)
PaperBuilding is good for both web browser based and desktop software.
What it’s not:
It’s not graphic design for a web site. PaperBuilding is not an appropriate vehicle for development of a static web site design – e.g. a few pages about your organisation, with no user interaction. If that’s what you need, better work directly with a visual designer.