2019 EDSIG Proceedings - Abstract Presentation
Incorporating Parallel Design for Group Projects in Information Systems Analysis
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Parallel design is a design concept where multiple designers develop a design prototype individually and at the same time (Nielsen & Faber, 1996). Once initial designs are complete, the designers meet to converge to a single solution. The designers will have diversity in their designs, and designers can choose the best elements from each design to develop a prototype. Prototype design will typically take more than one iteration before a design converges to satisfy all stakeholders. Parallel design can help speed up the design process because each designer works independently for some time with independent solutions. There is a trade-off for the multiple design ideas and increase in speed; however, in that parallel design tends to incur higher costs (Nielsen & Faber, 1996).
Parallel design helps designers in the design thinking process in two ways. Parallel design helps designers in the analysis and synthesis aspects of design. Analysis is where tasks are broken down into smaller tasks that can be analyzed independently and thoughtfully. The tasks are then synthesized into a whole when the concepts are combined. Parallel design also helps generate a multiplicity of ideas through the diverge and converge cycle where many ideas are generated (diverge), and then choices are made (converge). The British Design Council recommends a double diamond approach to the creative process (British Design Council, 2015) where the first iteration is understanding and defining the scope of the problem and the second iteration is developing and delivering a prototype solution.
Parallel design was implemented in a senior level information systems analysis class for the user interface prototyping. The project is a group project where teams of three to four students work on aspects of systems analysis from requirements gathering, user story or use case development, domain modeling, and user interface design. After students gather their requirements through interviews and develop a high-level system vision document, the students develop a user interface individually and then collectively using the parallel design process. This process reduces social loafing in the groups. Since all students are required to develop a user interface, then students tend to be able to contribute more to the solution.
Students were surveyed about the experience. The comments were generally positive. Students said that the process, “helped define what parts of the user interface were necessary and what needs improvement,” and, “It allowed group members to think about the system’s requirements individually, adding different perspectives to the group assignment.” Possible improvements were to provide more iterations of individual work after the prototype was developed and requiring stronger methods to hold group members accountable.
Incorporation of parallel design in group projects for creative tasks may be beneficial to learning outcomes, quality of solutions, and project management. Parallel design may hold group members more accountable because all members completed at least one design before meeting to develop a final solution. The process also helps generate a divergence of ideas that must be converged to generate a final prototype. The use of parallel design helps align course objectives with design thinking concepts.
British Design Council (2015). Innovation by Design. Tech Report https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/report/innovation-design
Nielsen, J., & Faber, J. M. (1996). Improving system usability through parallel design. Computer, 29(2), 29-35.
Sibona, C., (2019). Incorporating Parallel Design for Group Projects in Information Systems Analysis. Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference
, (2019) n.5003, Cleveland, Ohio