Even seasoned IA professionals have a hard time describing what they do, and it seems everyone has a different perspective! I said this, in addition to saying that I believed IA as a discipline is a pre-requisite to good Web design. It involves making decisions about taxonomies of information, human - computer interaction and user experience, and a whole lot more.
I'm not going to go into the interaction here but the basics of what she wanted were the objects: Table and Guest, the metadata that would be stored in each and the basic subsystems to manage them. She also had me lay out the basic processes involved including reserving a table. There was a disagreement as to whether the system assigns guests to tables or the service staff; while in every version of this system I've ever seen the system just knows capacities and sitting times she wanted the system to manage the whole restaurant.
I have 15 years of experience in managing business architecture related projects and initiatives in a wide variety of organizations under different conditions. I am a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a certified Behavioral Training Specialist, and have extensive experience analyzing, designing and implementing Management Operating Systems. My experience allows me to examine a project from three perspectives: Behavioral, Operational and Statistical and to understand from both a process perspective as well as the needed systems. More than anything, I am very good at working with employees and having them feel at ease as they go through the process. I let them know that I value their opinion, and…even if it’s not what I want to hear…I want them to express it. Some of the best input I have ever received was from a department manager who blew his stack at me during a training session. First, I was the first person to whom he had ever expressed his frustration and anger about issues that were seemingly out of his control. Second, the other managers saw that I valued his opinion. And, while I don’t like being yelled at, I kept my promise to the manager and didn’t tell anyone outside of the room about our “conversation.” (He reported it to his manager because he thought he had behaved badly and that I might ‘go after him’.) In the end, that manager was the biggest beneficiary to our work and the plant manager told me that he had never seen a ‘northerner’ gain the respect of the staff like I had (the facility is in South Carolina). My knowledge and experience would allow me to “hit the ground running” with your project. I am accustomed to arriving at a new environment and ‘digging in’ to determine what is wanted and needed in the organization and in identifying and tapping into existing company resources.
None - execs that interviewed me treated me with respect and didn't spring any unexpected surprises on me. They showed genuine interest rather than grilling me which is more productive. The only challenging question was what did I expect my sales volume to be in 2013 and 2014.
Need to describe how to handle possible high volume concurrent submissions, how to store URLs, how to compute the trailing lists, and how to clean up stale data, all in the context of a load-balanced scalable architecture.
I say this was a difficult question, because as anyone familiar with the field knows, many people have widely varying answers! There has always been intense debate among IA / user experience practitioners as to who we are and conceptually what we really do. I gave an answer that indicated my familiarity with recent conversations in this regard (notably from the 2009 IA Summit), and muttered some standard words that probably conformed roughly to some textbook definitions of what IA is all about. That seemed to satisfy the people interviewing me that I knew what I was about.