Before you start paperbuilding

Before you start PaperBuilding

Before you begin PaperBuilding it is vital to set the scope and objectives of any project, and set it in the context of the organisation’s overall business strategy and its ICT strategy.  We use the Project Brief Questionnaire (PBQ) as the vehicle to do this.

The PBQ is a set of headings we feel it is necessary to consider before launching into any information system development. If you collate the thinking for all the headings you have the basis of a proposal you can put to your charity board - the business case for the project.

Download a copy of Infoworks PBQ here.

For quick reference, here is the list of headings:

Outlook as an example - Please find below a video showing how we can "reverse engineer" an application (we use Microsoft Outlook) to show how a PaperBuild is done, in reverse - i.e. we will be working backwards from the finished system to the PaperBuild that could have been undertaken to design and build it:

PaperBuilding - making it work

  • Iterate - don’t try to finish any element in a single bash. Get all the main documents started, and they’ll feed each other - each rake-through sheds new light and builds the model up. Sessions should be weekly, a maximum of three hours each, spread over a month (or two, max).
  • Include - have representatives of all the stakeholders involved. Give each one a document to keep on top of - no one is allowed to just sit and watch. Once they join in, they will own the project, and will fight for its success.
  • Lead - have a strong chair to keep things moving. Don’t allow people to get bogged down in detail – make a note and give it to them as homework, to sort out later and bring it to next week’s session. Make sure the business need leads the IT and not the other way round.
  • Test - stick it up on the wall and get users, funders, and managers to imagine using it. For example, I want to send a booking confirmation. How? Where is it done in the system? Where is the data held? How does it get there? Success lies in the detail.

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