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IS480 Team wiki: 2010T1 The Green Reapers: Functional Testing

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As a prototype of a possible next-generation agricultural content management system, IntelliCrops is a unique combination of established and cutting-edge technologies and concepts.

That said, IntelliCrops was not developed in a vacuum. We were keen to ensure that there was great two-way communication.

Just as we worked hard to simplify, streamline and sell the novel ideas of IntelliCrops, we also wanted to remain grounded to practical needs. We constantly consulted our mentors at the International Rice Research Institute through physical meetings, teleconferences and formal functional testing.



Methodology

  • 3 formal rounds of functional testing
    • Iteration 3: 27 September (at IRRI Singapore HQ)
    • Iteration 4: 13 October (at IRRI Singapore HQ)
    • Iteration 7: 2 - 4 October (Remote testing by IRRI IT team based in the Philippines)


  • Combination of Tests:
  • Mixed background of users
    • Development (Ms Tara, Singapore)
    • Strategic (Mr Duncan, Philippines/Singapore)
    • Technical (Mr Marco and Mr Lauro, Philippines)




Summary

Accurately diagnosing pain points

In general, we were happy that there was great alignment in our proposed features and IRRI's near and long-term strategic goals. As the following demonstrate, there are clear roles that our system components can play:

  • The server-side analytics functions were immediately well-received as a useful compliment to IRRI's upcoming Nutrient Management System. (Their own Interactive Voice Response system)
  • IRRI expressed concerns about their lack of content management and development strategies. As our discussions developed, they grew to see the potential of IntelliCrop's tagging infrastructure in unlocking IRRI's vast library of content for use through multiple channels (e.g. voice and web, as our system demonstrates)
  • Marco from IRRI's technical team was especially excited by our Skype- and tag-based IVR. He appreciates that this implementation could simplify their IVR management process and enable the delivery of new content (e.g. video over Skype) in the future.



Areas for Improvement

From the functional and usability tests, most of IRRI's concerns revolved around the IVR:

  • The IRRI team believed that concise content would be more suitable for the phone-based system, and suggested that we look into their Factsheets. These Factsheets were in PDF form as questions and answers, and was an interesting test for the tagging infrastructure. IntelliCrops proved to be versatile and rather easily supported this additional content. As a result, were able to address IRRI's concerns on content type, as well as to unlock the content previously stored as flat PDF files.
  • With both IRRI and our common users, a common bugbear was the quality of the text-to-speech voice. We approached this issue two ways: (1) We added a way for the IVR to accept pre-recorded voices, such that the text-to-speech features could be entirely replaced by pre-recorded voices. (2) Armed with usability results, we continuously tweaked the parameters of the synthesized voice to arrive at a combination that was favourable to a wider audience. We have kept the text-to-speech engine as an option as we believe that it will become an increasingly interesting option as the technology matures




Feedback

Marco, Head of Information Technology Services (Based in Philippines)

  • IntelliCrops is an extremely good tool to retrieve articles and information
  • I am extremely impressed that you guys have been able to put IVR onto Skype.
  • This is a good piece of software that we would want to pick up for further development!
  • The analytics feature would be extremely useful. Currently, the NMS is not that heavily used yet, but we will integrate the analytics in as soon as we can.
  • It would be great if you are able to support pre-recorded voices!
  • The quality of the voice needs to be improved – use a female voice!
  • The tagging infrastructure is unique and very useful. Allows us to organise information better!



Duncan, Head of Development

  • It is great to be able to port the rice doctor, such a large repository of information onto the mobile!
  • The farmers need more streamlined information. - The content can be overwhelming at times



Tara, Development Officer

  • In my own capacity, I would like to commend your team on its professionalism, particularly in the face of challenges that came up along the way.
  • The needs of the agricultural sector were, I know, not familiar to any of you but you were able to grasp the context quickly and apply your technical skills appropriately.
  • I also think the various elements of the project have the potential to be very useful for us or for similar platforms. The analytics component in particular is suitable for application, with not many tweaks necessary.



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