Towards a better understanding of system analysts’ tacit knowledge: A mixed method approach

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to elicit tacit knowledge exhibited in expert information system (IS) professionals in a form that can be shared with others; and to develop categorical framework suggesting key content areas of tacit knowledge in the requirements analysis domain.

Design/methodology/approach: Requirements analysis is selected as the main focus of this study due to the importance of this phase to the success of IS development and the nature of requirements analysis tasks requiring extensive amount of tacit knowledge. The authors used the "storytelling" approach, a semi-structured interview technique for knowledge elicitation.

Findings: The study resulted in 132 knowledge items using a qualitative method and categorized them into 14 categories using cluster analysis. The study found that experienced, successful analysts see systems analysis in behavioral, managerial, and political terms and focus heavily on interpersonal, project management, and organizational issues.

Research limitations/implications: The limitations in the research sample, or in the recollection capability of the research subjects could compromise the comprehensiveness of the tacit knowledge in the requirements analysis domain; however, the elicited knowledge at least represents important dimensions one might reasonably find in this domain.

Originality/value: Very little research has attempted to capture this tacit dimension of system analysts' knowledge. Thus, capturing and transferring the tacit knowledge from experts should help in the evolution of novice to expert system analysts thereby improving both their effectiveness and the quality of the information systems developed.