SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Project Management (Winter term)

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • “We have channels for distributing information to our constituents, but the right information isn’t always shared.”
  • “Our board makes decisions, but the information isn’t shared with our staff.”
  • “We have a database, but we aren’t putting in or taking out the information that we need.”
  • “I know we have people that want to volunteer, but we don’t know how to get them here and use them best.”
  • “A patron ordered a book, and they got it -- but it took weeks to get it to them.”
  • “I sent you an email about the project last week. Didn’t you get it?”

If any of these comments ring true -- or you’d like some help addressing a similar information system issue in your organization -- consider handing your problem to a talented team of University of Michigan graduate students in winter 2015.

If your proposal is accepted, a team of UMSI master's students will perform a thorough analysis your organization’s information-flow process from several perspectives. At the end of the semester, they will provide a report suggesting ways to make these processes more effective and efficient. As the students are conducting this analysis as part of their coursework, there is no cost to the participating organization.

Our students have worked with more than 200 partner organizations over the past several years, including corporations, libraries, government agencies, non-profits, and schools.

Past projects have included:

  • The assessment of information flow from clients, to project leads, to product development and related communication for a product development life cycle.
  • Analysis of a volunteer intake process from inquiry to orientation to engagement
  • The review of a health clinic's telephone queue and voicemail system, establishing a formal protocol for routing phone calls and messages from patients, medical specialists, pharmacists, funders, and vendors to appropriate staff.
  • An examination of how a government agency plans, creates, and disseminates information about current events and projects to regional employees to encourage collaboration and decrease the duplication of effort among employees
  • The study of a public library's process to acquire and weed materials among its three branches

Ideal clients meet the following criteria:

  • Have a formal or informal information process already in place that needs improvement.
  • Provide 5-10 people that are involved in the process and willing and able to be interviewed by the student team, with the majority physically accessible (and not virtual).
  • Be within 50 miles of Ann Arbor; preference is given to local projects.
  • Any sort of organization, but preference is focused on non-profits and small organizations with complex challenges
  • All potential clients are required to complete a Project Proposal and sign a Client Agreement form

Feel free to share this with colleagues, clients or friends who would be interested in this opportunity.

Click to submit a proposal.

If you are interested in participating as a client or learning more, contact

Last day to accept proposals: December 15