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Improved Service Responsibility Table of Users' Requirements for E-Service Systems


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In recent years, UML has been criticized by several researchers and practitioners for its complexity and lack of comprehension. This has caused difficulties in using UML to analyse e-service system. As a result of this Service Responsibility Tables (SRT) was proposed as a tool for analyzing e-service systems. The use of business terminologies in SRT that can be easily understood by business professionals can encourage user involvement in requirement analysis. In this paper we used SRT to analyse Graduate Studies Management System as a case study to access the usefulness of SRT to business professionals. However, the present SRT provide only two approaches to transform the SRT to use-case and class diagrams. Therefore, we propose some improvements for transforming the SRTs to activity diagram and sequence diagram respectively. Based on the evaluations by users, we found that the SRT can improve user participation in requirements determination process.
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2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Improved Service Responsibility Table of Users’ Requirements for
E-Service Systems
Ibrahim Anka Salihu1, a*, Ali Selamat2,b
Abstract. In recent years, UML has been criticized by several researchers and practitioners for its
complexity and lack of comprehension. This has caused difficulties in using UML to analyse e-
service system. As a result of this Service Responsibility Tables (SRT) was proposed as a tool for
analyzing e-service systems. The use of business terminologies in SRT that can be easily understood
by business professionals can encourage user involvement in requirement analysis. In this paper we
used SRT to analyse Graduate Studies Management System as a case study to access the usefulness
of SRT to business professionals. However, the present SRT provide only two approaches to
transform the SRT to use-case and class diagrams. Therefore, we propose some improvements for
transforming the SRTs to activity diagram and sequence diagram respectively. Based on the
evaluations by users, we found that the SRT can improve user participation in requirements
determination process.
Keywords: System analysis, E-Service systems, Requirements elicitation, Requirements
documentation, Service Responsibility Tables (SRT), Unified Modeling Language (UML).
1 Introduction
The popularity of internet and the spread of other electronic technologies have transformed
businesses through the appearance of e-service phenomenon. This has led to increasing demands in
the development of e-service system. E-service system is an information system that is used in
organizations and businesses in order to improve their performance in service delivery within and
outside the organization. E-service has been defined as acts or performances that are delivered
through electronic devices and networks to help people complete tasks, solve problems, or conduct
transactions [1]. E-service has been used as an important tool in the process of capturing business
knowledge and experience with respect to flow of information within and outside the organizations
and it can be the determining factors of the success of businesses [23, 3]. Despite the growing
demand in their development and usage, several failures have been recorded in e-service systems [4,
5] such as failure of the Health Information system in U.K., South Africa, China and some public
sector IS in Thailand [6, 7]. It has been observed that one of the leading cause of system failures are
failures from requirements determination [8]. This has made the development of e-service system to
be more challenging [1].
Corresponding author
Ibrahim Anka Salihu*
1,2 Software Engineering Research Group (SERG), Faculty of Computing,
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Requirements determination (RD) is the processes of gathering, determining, extracting, or
exposing software requirements [9]. It is usually done in the early stage of system analysis and
design by the system analyst. The task involves eliciting and representing users’ requirements in
various representation models, using various format or notations provided by Unified Modeling
Language (UML). The generated requirements models need to be reviewed and validated by the
stakeholders to ensure the success of system implementation [8, 10, 11, 12].
In spite of the general emphasis and wide spread agreement on user involvement in systems
analysis phase, the level and quality of user involvement is inadequate due to various issues, such as
difficulties in identifying requirements and lack of comprehension of UML by business
professionals [13]. The intended users of the system have difficulty in identifying and describing the
capabilities of the proposed system and the actual features they want [13]. Secondly, the industry
standard modeling tools such as UML are used to represent requirements which the users have to
revise. This creates difficulties for the business professionals (managers and users) in understanding
the requirements presented informal notations of UML [14]. Therefore, users can not contribute
positively to the requirements gathering process. Several approaches were proposed for improving
users requirements documentation as a solution to the problems in UML, such as in [8, 27].
Another recent approach is Service Responsibility Tables (SRT). Service Responsibility Tables
(SRT) represents users’ requirements in service vocabulary that will clearly show the business
processes replacing the use of jargons as in UML. This will encourage participation of stakeholders
and enable them to negotiate and validate their requirements with the system analyst. However,
there is a limitation with the existing SRT due to lack of approach to transform it to other UML
diagrams (activity and sequence) for further analysis. The existing SRT has only defined two
heuristics to transform it to use case and class diagrams. However, several models are used to
represent different requirements in systems analysis stage such as activity, sequence, state chart etc.
Therefore, in this paper we proposed an improve SRT with a heuristic approach to guide the
transformation to activity and sequence diagrams.
This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 is a review of UML problems in analyzing e-
service systems. Section 3 presents the methodology and a case study on application of SRT to
analyze e-service systems. In section 4 we proposed a heuristic approach to transform the SRTs to
activity and sequence diagrams which is our main contribution. Section 5 presents discussion and
2 Related Works
There are several problems affecting requirements determination for information systems such
as; 1) the constrain of humans as information processors and problem solvers, 2) the variety and
complexity of information requirements, 3) the complex pattern of interaction among users and
analyst, 4) the unwillingness of users to provide requirements [9, 15]. Furthermore, others problems
are believed to be communication obstacles among users and between users and analyst [16]. These
obstacles in communication are attributed to inconsistency in frame of reference among
stakeholders in system analysis and design [1]. Such frame of reference is leveled by Orlikowski
and Gash [17] as technological frames that are vital to understanding the variety and complexity of
user’s needs. We can therefore deduce that communication problems greatly affect user’s
involvement in requirements analysis. The related works discussed the problems of using Unified
modeling Language (UML) in analyzing the e-service systems. It also discussed how the light
weight analysis tool SRT could improve the documentation of requirements for e-service systems.
2.1 The problems of using UML to analyse e-service systems
Since its adoption by the Object Management Group (OMG) 1997, UML has been widely
accepted as a modeling standard for object oriented software development and has been diversely
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
used to analyse different kind of systems [8, 18]. UML is a language with rigorous syntax and
grammar [1, 2, 10, 19] that makes it difficult for business professional and novice developers to
understand. The difficulties lead to inadequate user involvement in requirement determination
process. UML notations are often shown in number of ways that can easily confuse a novice analyst
[20]. Siau and Loo [21] identifies two categories of problems in UML which are the inherent and
peripheral problems that cause difficulties in the learning process by the novice analyst.
UML lacks comprehension by business professionals and even with UML knowledge, usually
important business requirements are missing when taken out of business context and expressed in
visual notation [22]. A case study by Glinz [14] has revealed several deficiencies of UML as a
requirement specification language. A survey of UML usage by practitioners has shown that the
usage of UML by practitioner is lower than expected due to the following problems. The complexity
of UML leads to the difficulties in learning UML diagrams for both IT professionals and clients.
Furthermore, it brings communication difficulties between users and analyst. The problems of UML
pose challenges to user involvements and contribution in the various stages of information
requirements determination [1].
UML uses notation to represent business process, and when business process are taken out of
business context and represented in diagrams or notations, some of the important business processes
could be lost and business professionals may not understand them [1, 22, 24]. According to Tan,
Alter et al. [1] UML emphasizes on the use of technical artifacts and the diagrams that are used for
modeling requirements have deficiencies in representing the requirements accurately, especially the
non-functional requirements. In conclusion, UML lacks clearly defined syntax and semantics [19,
25] which can affect its comprehension [10]. The inconsistencies in the designs of UML can lead to
inaccuracy in the design [26] and inaccuracy in representing information [24]. These problems of
UML affect the user involvements, identification and specification of users’ requirements for the e-
service systems.
2.2 Service Responsibility Tables
To address the long standing problem of inadequate user involvement and inadequate
business/IT alignment, there is the need to give greater attention to service concept and metaphors
[25]. There is the need for light weight techniques or tools for business professionals that will help
them understand business situation and potential implication of any proposed change to the system
[13]. Discussing users’ requirements in service vocabulary that will clearly show the business
processes will improve users’ participation in system analysis. Moreover, to better understand
service systems we need to focus on the activities and responsibilities of both service providers and
service customers. This is because “the value of service is often co-produced jointly by the service
provider and the service buyer” [25]. In view of this, the work system approach (which was
developed to help business professionals understand, evaluate, and analyze systems in
organizations) was extended to incorporate the unique characteristics of service [19, 28] which led
to the development the tool called service value chain framework [19].
Service responsibility tables is a light weight analysis tool developed based on the concept of
service value chain framework. it is designed to accommodate the activities and responsibilities of
both service providers and customers based on the broad observation that service tends to be co-
produced by service producers and service consumers [25]. It has two columns swim-lane adapted
from service value chain framework, one for service producer and the other for services customer.
The flexible format of SRTs allows easy re-user of the columns to generate additional columns for
any topic that might be important as the analysis proceeds [1].
3 Methodology
Improving the documentation of requirements for e-service systems depend on the quality of user
involvement in requirement analysis and the tool used in the process. However, the tool used posed
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
challenges to user involvement. Service Responsibility Tables was developed to bridge the gap
between IT professionals and business professionals. An empirical investigation of usability of SRT
in analyzing e-service systems was conducted by using it to analysis Graduate Studies Management
System (GSMS) as a case study. GSMS is a university system that allows prospective applicants to
apply for admission in the university, the application will be processed by the School of Graduate
Studies and notify the applicant of status of their application. The system also keeps record of
students’ academic records, financial and study status. This research focuses mainly on the graduate
admission process.
The stakeholders of GSMS are spread across many departments of the school. This comprises of
users from School of Postgraduate Studies (SPS), International Student Centre (ISC), faculties,
bursary and Center of Information and Communication Technology (CICT). Intake unit in SPS is
mainly responsible for managing admission process in the school which is part of the functions of
GSMS. Therefore, staffs of the unit ware used for the requirements determination process. Recent
researches indicates that applying work system approach (e.g. work system frame work and work
system snapshot) is helpful to non-technical individuals and will be useful for understanding and
summarizing systems in organizations [16, 17]. We used work system snapshot in the initial stage
of analysis to eliminate the lack of clarity and confusion in using only SRT. The proposed method
involves four steps that will be undertaken by analyst and stakeholders. They are; identify
stakeholders, create work system snapshot (WSS), create SRT from WSS and design UML
3.1 Application of SRT
The four steps discussed in previous section are conducted in sequence. After identifying
stakeholders of the system, they jointly create a WSS of GSMS as shown in table 1.
Table 1: Work system snapshot for Graduate Studies Management System (GSMS)
Products and Services
Assistant Registrar
Intake clerk
Offer letter
Rejection letter
Processes and Activities
SPS Maintain courses information
Applicant create account
Applicant login using account id
Applicant submit application
Intake clerk checks applications
Intake clerk notify applicant receive of
Intake clerk informs applicant of
incomplete application
Assistant Registrar checks applicant’s
qualification and University’s recognition
Assistant Registrar send Phd. applications
and Masters by research to faculties
Courses offered in the
Entry requirements
Notification letter
List of applications
List of Institutions
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Intake clerk
Applicants’ email
Applicant’s information
Applicant’s credentials
Decision on application
Research proposal
Supervisor information
Offer letter/rejection letter
Notification letter
Response letter
The process and activities in work system snapshot in table 1 are used to create the SRT by
distinguishing activities and responsibilities of both provider and customer placing them in the
designated columns in SRT as shown in table 2. The column for information in table 1 can be used
to create additional column for information used or generated in column four of the SRT.
Table 2: Service Responsibility Table for Graduate Studies Management System (GSMS)
Provider Activities and
Activities and
Information used
or generated
Triggers and
Maintain courses
Applicant identifies
course of interest
Courses title, entry
mode, duration
Need for students
Create account
email address
Need to apply
login with account
use email and
Need to apply
Intake clerk checks
Submit application
course of study,
Request for
Intake clerk notify
applicant of received of
Receive notice for
received of
Notification letter
Receive of
Intake clerk informs
applicant of incomplete
Receive notice of
To complete
Asst. Registrar checks
applicant’s credentials and
University’s recognition
name of
location, country
Verify University
Asst. Registrar send Phd
applications and Masters
by research to faculties
Use application
and research
proposal, email
To request
research proposal
Asst. Registrar receives
confirmation from faculty
Retrieve name of
supervisor, email
Name of
Admission committee
decides on applications
decision on
Intake clerk update
applications' status
Decision on
applications status
Intake clerk send
notification to applicants
Receive notification
Applicant’s email
Notify applicant,
notification letter
Intake clerk receives
response from applicants
Send response form
Use response form
response letter
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Inform faculties names of
successful candidates
List of approved
applications, email
to notify faculties,
list of applicants
4. Transforming SRT to UML diagrams
Service Responsibility Table is introduced as a light weight analysis tool to be used by business
professionals to supplement UML in analyzing systems. It is intended that SRT will be converted to
UML diagrams for further analysis by systems analyst and designers. Tan et al. [13] proposed two
set of heuristics to be used in transforming SRTs to use case and class diagrams. In this study we
have proposed two a additional heuristics to guide the transformation of SRTs to activity diagram
and sequence diagram as in next sections.
4.1 Transforming SRT to activity diagram
Systems analyst design activity diagrams as a means of building business process models. They
are used to model the behavior in a business process independent of objects. Activity diagrams are
workflow diagrams with notations that address the modeling of parallel, concurrent activities and
complex decision processes usually from different use cases. Using the columns for provider and
customer activities in SRT in table 1, we can create activity diagram based on the following
heuristics: a. Identify activities from provider and customer columns b. Identify relationship and
branching flow between the various activities c. Link the activities showing the order of execution
d. Draw the diagram.
Following these heuristics, the SRT shown in Table 1 can be used to generate activity diagram.
The steps below are followed in the transformation:
i. The activities and responsibilities in the first two columns in the SRT in table 1 are as follows:
a. Customer activities; check courses, login or create account for new users, submit
application, receive acknowledgement and receive offer letter of rejection letter.
b. Provider activities; check applications, notify applicant if documents in complete, verify
applicant’s qualification and University, cancel application, confirm admission for
thought course or send application to faculties for phd/research work, send notification,
receive acceptance and update applicant status. These activities make the candidates for
activity diagram. The diagram is drawn in a twin lane to show customer activity and
provider activity
ii. Identify and show parallel, concurrent activities and complex decision processes among the
activities. Create account and notify applicant of incomplete documents are conditional
activities, verify applicants’ qualification and university are concurrent activities and cancel
application, confirm admission for thought course or send applications to faculties are
decision activities.
iii. Link the activities as identified showing all the relationship.
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Customer Activity Provider Activity
Check course
Receive offer
Send acceptance
applicant to
Msc tought
Send Phd
& Msc
research to
Send offer
Update student
sd Admission
Applicant Ass.Registrar Institution:InstitutionList
ApplReceived() [CourseConfirm]LookupIns
() NotifyFacultyofSuccessfulApplicants(applicantsInfo)
Intake clerk
Figure 5: Activity diagram from SRT Figure 6: Sequence diagram from SRT
4.2 Transforming SRT to sequence diagram
Sequence diagrams are used to show objects that participate in a use case and the exchange of
messages between them over time. It is defined as a dynamic model that shows the explicit
sequence of messages that are passed between objects in a defined interaction. By extending the
SRT to contain a fourth column named triggers and communication we can use the fourth column to
generate a sequence diagram by using the following heuristics: a. Use all the columns of SRT to
identify actors and object that interact with each other and select the ones to participate in the
diagram b. Identify messages and the pattern of message exchange between actors and objects and c.
Link the messages with actors and objects showing the sequence (message send and message reply).
Following the heuristics above, the SRT shown in (Table 1) is used to generate sequence
diagram. The steps for the transformation are identified below:
i. The actors identified from the SRT are; applicant, Ass. Registrar and intake clerk while the
objects are institutions and faculties.
ii. The message exchange between actors and objects are; a. Submit application b. Application
received c.Verify institution d. Request confirmation of admission e. Request confirmed f.
Decide on application g. Issue notification letter h. Response letter i. List of successful
5. Discussion and Conclusion
Service Responsibility Table can be a useful tool for improving users participations in
requirements elicitation/documentation process. The existing SRT provided only two approaches to
transform the generated SRTs to use-case and class diagrams. However, these two diagrams do not
provide all the necessary details required for implementing a system. Therefore, in this paper we
proposed two heuristics for transforming SRTs to activity and sequence diagrams which are other
important diagrams in system analysis and design.
We have applied SRT to analyse GSMS an e-service system in UTM. The proposed heuristics
were applied to transform the SRTs to UML that can be later used by professionals in developing a
system. Based on the users’ perception SRT can be very useful to business professionals in
2nd National Research and Innovation Conference (NRICon2016) at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
analyzing a system and the transformation approach could benefit the users in transforming SRTs to
activity and sequence diagram without the need of a professional.
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Heavyweight systems analysis approaches such as the use of Unified Modeling Language (UML) are inappropriate for business professionals who nonetheless need to participate actively in systems analysis and design processes to ensure that the system requirements reflect their needs. This paper proposes the use of a lightweight analysis approach based on Service Responsibility Tables (SRTs) to serve as a front-end to UML diagrams. Business professionals (with or without the help of IT professionals) can use this lightweight approach to specify at least part of system requirements. Subsequently, IT professionals can perform heavyweight analysis for the design and implementation of hardware and software. This work-in-progress paper presents heuristics for transforming two types of SRTs into the two primary UML diagrams. The research is on-going, and a plan for future research is presented.
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Service systems produce all services of significance and scope, yet the concept of a service system is not well articulated in the service literature. This paper presents three interrelated frameworks as a first attempt to define the fundamentals of service systems. These frameworks identify basic building blocks and organize important attributes and change processes that apply across all service systems. Although relevant regardless of whether a service system uses information technology, the frameworks are also potentially useful in visualizing the realities of moving toward automated service architectures. This paper uses two examples, one largely manual and one highly automated, to illustrate the potential usefulness of the three frameworks, which can be applied together to describe, analyze, and study how service systems are created, how they operate, and how they evolve through a combination of planned and unplanned change.
Conference Paper
Context: The Unified Modeling Language (UML), with its 14 different diagram types, is the de-facto standard modeling language for object-oriented modeling and documentation. Since the various UML diagrams describe different aspects of one, and only one, software under development, they are not independent but strongly depend on each other in many ways. In other words, the UML diagrams describing a software product must be consistent. Inconsistencies between these diagrams may be a source of faults in software systems. It is therefore paramount that these inconsistencies be detected, analyzed and hopefully fixed. Objective: The aim of this article is to deliver a comprehensive summary of UML consistency rules as they are described in the literature to date to obtain an extensive and detailed overview of the current research in this area. Method: We performed a Systematic Mapping Study by following well-known guidelines. We selected 95 primary studies from a search with seven search engines performed in December 2012. Results: Different results are worth mentioning. First it appears that researchers tend to discuss very similar consistency rules, over and over again. Most rules are horizontal (98.10%) and syntactic (88.21%). The most used diagrams are the class diagram (71.58%), the sequence diagram (47.37%) and the state machine diagram (42.11%). Conclusion: The fact that many rules are duplicated in primary studies confirms the need for a well-accepted list of consistency rules. This paper is a first step in this direction. Results indicate that much more work is needed to develop consistency rules for all 14 UML diagrams, in all dimensions of consistency (e.g., semantic and syntactic on the one hand, horizontal, vertical and evolution on the other hand).
Service quality is increasingly recognised as an important aspect of electronic commerce (e-commerce). Because the online comparison of the technical features of products is essentially costless, feasible, and easier than comparisons of products through traditional channels, service quality is the key determinant for successful e-commerce. A conceptual model of the determinants of e-service quality is proposed and discussed. Given the exploratory nature of this research, focus groups are used to investigate e-service quality dimensions. It is proposed that e-service quality has incubative and active dimensions for increasing hit rates, stickiness, and customer retention. The incubative dimension consists of: ease of use, appearance, linkage, structure and layout, and content. The active dimension consists of reliability, efficiency, support, communication, security, and incentives. The importance and implications of each determinant are presented.