Development of a prototype for an integrated students projects management system for University of Botswana
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The University of Botswana is a research intensive University. Majority of the students from undergraduate to PhD level are mandated by regulations to undertake some research projects as a requirement for their degrees. The current support for student’s projects is handled in a manual way. The main objective of this study is to look at the current processes and model a better workflow and a prototype for the whole process of students’ project management from the point of registering topics to the final submission of the projects. The specific objectives of the project are firstly, to assess the current state of operations for student research project management in the University; secondly to model a workflow to make it more efficient and thirdly to design, develop and evaluate prototype system based on the workflow. The study was composed of five phases. The first phase involved gathering information on research management processes currently in use. Research is more of a project which spans across different phases with a beginning and an end period. The current procedures of managing research work across departments in Faculties are complex and strenuous. There are no proper tools in place to help in the administration of these projects. The second phase was about modelling the current processes into flowchart. This dissertation examined existing procedures and tasks undertaken in such projects and explored the possibilities of automating the processes to create a management system. The third phase was about reengineering automated workflows. The intent was to reengineer the processes to make the tasks more efficient and user-friendly from the existing system. There is a serious need for shifting from people-dependent processes to machine-controlled processes. The third phase involved improving the workflow using a reengineering methodology. After improving workflows there was need to find out how effectiveness the processes are. A system usable to users is considered very effective so the study focused on the usability aspects of theworkflows. Phase four dealt with the design of a prototype to illustrate the system and aid in the process of usability testing. Heuristic evaluation and user testing were carried out in phasefive. The testing revealed that the prototype for student’s research management system was regarded as easy to use and very useful which makes the prototype a better improvement to the current manual system in place. The completion of this dissertation demonstrated a viable concept of project research management system which met the users’ expectations. It is a valid concept which can be considered in future developments of the institution. The system will be quite useful because of the effective processes of monitoring, supervising and managing students’ research projects.