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Give an example of a business problem.
What are the main steps followed when solving a problem?
Define information system.
What types of information systems are found in most organizations?
List the six fundamental technologies an analyst needs to understand.
List four types of tools the analyst needs to use to develop systems.
List five types of techniques used during system development.
What are some of the things an analyst needs to understand about businesses and organizations in general?
What are some of the things an analyst needs to understand about people?
List 10 job titles that involve analysis and design work.
How might an analyst become involved with executives and strategic planning relatively early in his career?
Describe a business problem your university has that you would like to see solved. How can information technology help solve it?
Many different types of information systems were described in this chapter. Give an example of each type of system that might be used by a university.
What is the difference between technical skills and business skills? Explain how a computer science graduate might be strong in one area and weak in another. Discuss how the preparation for a CIS or MIS graduate is different from that for a computer science graduate.
Explain why an analyst needs to understand how people think, how they learn, how they react to change, how they communicate, and how they work.
Who needs greater integrity to be successful, a salesperson or a systems analyst? Or does every working professional need integrity and ethical behavior to be successful? Discuss.
Explain why developing a small information system for use by a single department requires different skills than developing a large information system with many internal and external users.
How might working for a consulting firm for a variety of companies make it difficult for the consultant to understand the business problem a particular company faces? What might be easier for the consultant to understand about a business problem?
Explain why a strategic information systems planning project must involve people outside the information systems department. Why would a consulting firm be called in to help organize the project?
Explain why a commitment to enterprise resource planning (ERP) would be very difficult to undo after it has been made.
It is important to understand the nature of the business you work for as an analyst. Contact some information systems developers and ask them about their employers. Do they seem to know a lot about the nature of the business? If so, how did the developers gain that knowledge—for example, was it through self-study, formal training or course work, or on-the-job training via participation in system development projects? What are the developers’ plans for the future—for example, do the plans involve more training, more courses, or working on projects in specific business areas?
Think about the type of position you want (for example, working for a specific company, working for a consulting firm or working for a software vendor). Do some research on each job by looking at companies’ recruiting brochures or Web sites. What do they indicate are the key skills they look for in a new hire? Are there any noticeable differences between consulting firms and the other organizations?
You have read an overview of the Rocky Mountain Outfitters’ strategic information systems plan, including the technology architecture plan and the application architecture plan. Research system planning at your university. Is there a plan for how information technology will be used over the next few years? If so, describe some of the key provisions of the technology architecture plan and the application architecture plan.
1. Do you agree with Alice and the others about the importance of problem-solving skills? Industry-specific insight? Communication skills? Discuss.
2. Should you research how a hospital is managed before interviewing for a position with an information systems manager at a hospital? Discuss.
3. In terms of your career, do you think it really makes a difference whether you work for a bank, a hospital, or a retail chain? Or is an information systems job going to be the same no matter where you work? Discuss.
“I’ll tell you exactly what I look for when I interview a new college grad,” Alice Adams volunteered. Alice, a system development manager at a local bank, was talking with several professional acquaintances at a monthly dinner meeting of the Association for Information Technology Professionals (AITP). AITP provides opportunities for information systems professionals to get together occasionally and share experiences. Usually a few dozen professionals from information systems departments at a variety of companies attend the monthly meetings.
1. What are some of the reasons that RMO decided to build the supply chain management system prior to the customer support system?
2. What are some of the consequences to RMO if it is wrong to wait to build the customer support system?
3. What are some of the consequences to RMO if the owners change their minds and start with the customer support system before building the supply chain management system?
RMO’s strategic information systems plan calls for building a new supply chain management (SCM) system prior to building the customer support system (CSS). John Blankens has stated often that customer orientation is the key to success. If that is so, why not build the CSS first, so customers can immediately benefit from improved customer ordering and fulfillment? Wouldn’t that increase sales and profits faster? RMO already has factories that produce many items RMO sells, and RMO has long-standing relationships with suppliers around the globe. The product catalog is well established, and the business has existing customers who appear eager and willing to shop online. Why wait? Perhaps John Blankens has made a mistake in planning.
1. How many information systems staff members do you think Reliable can reasonably afford to employ? What mix of skills would they require? How flexible would they have to be in terms of the work they do each day?
2. What impact should Web and wireless technology have on the way Reliable deploys its systems? Should the Web and wireless technology change the way Reliable does business?
3. Create an application architecture plan and a technology architecture plan for Reliable Pharmaceutical Service to follow for the next five years. What system projects come first in your plan? What system projects come later?
The Reliable Pharmaceutical Service is a privately held company incorporated in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It provides pharmacy services to health-care delivery organizations that are too small to have their own in-house pharmacy. Reliable grew rapidly in its first decade, and by the late 1980s its clients included two dozen nursing homes, three residential rehabilitation facilities, two small psychiatric hospitals, and four small specialty medical hospitals. In 1990, Reliable expanded its Albuquerque service area to include Santa Fe and started two new service areas in Las Cruces and Gallup.
What are the five phases of the traditional SDLC?
What characteristics of a project call for a predictive approach to the SDLC? What characteristics of a project call for an adaptive approach to the SDLC?
How is the SDLC based on the problem-solving approach described in Chapter 1?
What is the objective of each phase of the SDLC? Describe briefly.
How is iteration used across phases?
What is the difference between a model and a tool?
What is the difference between a technique and a methodology?
Which of the two approaches to system development was the earliest?
Which of the two approaches to system development is the most recent?
What are the three constructs used in structured programming?
What model is the central focus of the information engineering approach?
What are some of the features of the Unified Process (UP)?
What are some of the features of Extreme Programming (XP)?
What are some of the features of Scrum?
What are visual modeling tools? Why are they used?
Write a one-page paper that distinguishes among the fundamental purposes of the analysis phase, the design phase, and the implementation phase.
Why might it make sense to teach analysis and design phases and activities sequentially, like a waterfall, even though in practice iterations are used in nearly all development projects?
List some of the models that architects create to show different aspects of a house they are designing. Explain why several models are needed.
What models might an automotive designer use to show different aspects of a car?
Sketch the layout of your room at home. Now write a description of the layout of your room. Are these both models of your room? Which is more accurate? More detailed? Easier to follow for someone unfamiliar with your room?
Describe a “technique” you use to help you complete the activity “Get to class on time.” What are some “tools” you use with the technique?
Describe a “technique” you use to make sure you get assignments done on time. What are some “tools” you use with the technique?
What are some other techniques you use to help you complete activities in your life?
Go to the campus placement office and gather some information on companies that recruit information systems graduates on your campus. Try to find any information about the approach they use to develop systems. Is their SDLC described? Do any mention an IDE or a visual modeling tool? Visit the company Web sites and see whether you can find any more information.
1. Is the proposed system an accounting system? A factory operations system? Or both?
2. Which life cycle variations might be appropriate for Sally to consider using?
3. Which activities of analysis and of design discussed in this chapter should involve factory workers as well as factory management?
Sally Jones is assigned to manage a new system development project that will automate some of the work being done in her company’s factory. It is fairly clear what is needed: to automate the tracking of the work in progress and the finished goods inventory. What is less clear is the impact of any automated system on the factory workers. Sally has several concerns: How might a new system affect the workers? Will they need a lot of training? Will working with a new system slow down their work or interfere with the way they now work? How receptive will the workers be to the changes the new system will surely bring to the shop floor?
At the same time, Sally recognizes that the factory workers themselves might have some good ideas about what will work and what won’t, especially concerning
(1) Which technology is more likely to survive in the factory environment and
(2) What sort of user interface will work best for the workers. Sally doesn’t know much about factory operations, although she does understand inventory accounting.
Barbara Halifax wrote her boss that she was still considering many potential approaches to the customer support system development project. She is still completing the project planning phase, so not much time has passed at this point. Consider the training required for the development staff if RMO decides to use an object-oriented approach for the project. How extensive would the training need be for the RMO staff? What type of training would be required? Is it just about new programming languages, or is it broader than that? How far can the project progress before the decision is made? Barbara mentions that either approach can be used and that, even though some Web development is involved, the team does not have to use an OO approach. Do you think she is correct? Why or why not? Do some types of projects require an OO approach? Barbara also mentions that she plans to use some iteration and to involve users extensively throughout the project. What life cycle variations are under consideration? What else might she do to speed up the development process? What else might she consider adapting from the United Process, from Extreme Programming, or from Scrum?
1. One approach to system development that Reliable might take is to start one large project that uses a waterfall model to the SDLC to thoroughly plan the project, analyze all requirements in detail, design every component, and then implement the entire system, with all phases completed sequentially. What are some of the risks of taking this approach? What planning and management difficulties would this approach entail?
2. Another approach to system development might be to start with the first required component and get it working. Later, other projects could be undertaken to work on the other identified capabilities. What are some of the risks of taking this approach? What planning and management difficulties would this approach entail?
3. A third approach to system development might be to define one large project that will use an iterative approach to the SDLC. Briefly describe what you would include in each iteration. Describe how incremental development might apply to this project. How would an iterative approach decrease project risks compared with the first approach? How might it decrease risks compared with the second approach? What are some risks the iterative approach might add to the project?
In Chapter 1, you generated some ideas related to Reliable Pharmaceutical Service’s five-year information systems plan. Management has placed a high priority on developing a Web-based application to connect client facilities with Reliable. Before the Web component can be implemented, though, Reliable must automate more of the basic information it handles about patients, health-care facilities, and prescriptions.
Next, Reliable must develop an initial informational Web site, which will ultimately evolve into an extranet through which Reliable will share information and link its processes closely with its clients and suppliers. One significant requirement of the extranet is compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA. HIPAA requires health-care providers and their contractors to protect patient data from unauthorized disclosure. Ensuring compliance with HIPAA will require careful attention to extranet security.
List and explain the activities of project planning.
List the seven reasons projects fail.
List the five reasons projects are successful.
What are three reasons projects are initiated?
Define project management.
Explain how information system project management is similar to project management in general.
Explain how iterative development makes project scheduling more complex.
Describe the six types of feasibility used to evaluate a project.
What is the purpose of the cost/benefit analysis used to assess economic feasibility?
Explain the difference between tangible and intangible costs and benefits. Which are ignored in cost/benefit analyses?
Explain how “just in time” project management is used for adaptive projects.
List at least five possible sources of tangible benefits from the installation of a new system.
List at least four sources of development costs.
What is meant by the critical path?
What is the purpose of a system context diagram?
Describe the eight knowledge areas of project management.
What activities in the planning phase are specifically focused on project management?
Write a short paper that discusses how project management techniques can overcome the reasons for project failure listed at the beginning of the chapter.
Given the following narrative, make a list of expected business benefits:
Especially for You Jewelers is a small jewelry company in a college town. Over the last couple of years, especially for you has experienced a tremendous increase in its business. However, its financial performance has not kept pace with its growth. The current system, which is partially manual and partially automated, does not track accounts receivables sufficiently, and especially for you is having difficulty determining why the receivables are so high. In addition, especially for you run frequent specials to attract customers. It has no idea whether these specials are profitable or whether the benefit, if there is one, comes from associated sales. Especially for you also wants to increase repeat sales to existing customers, and thus needs to develop a customer database. The jewelry company wants to install a new direct sales and accounting system to help solve these problems.
Given the following narrative, make a list of system capabilities: The new direct sales and accounting system for especially for You Jewelers is an important element in the future growth and success of the jewelry company. The direct sales portion of the system needs to track every sale and be able to link to the inventory system for cost data to provide a daily profit and loss report. The customer database needs to be able to produce purchase histories to assist management in preparing special mailings and special sales to existing customers. Detailed credit balances and aged accounts for each customer would help solve the problem with the high balance of accounts receivables. Special notice letters and credit history reports would help management reduce accounts receivable.
Build a Gantt chart based on the following list of tasks and dependencies to build and test a screen form for a new system. Identify the criticalpath.
Using Microsoft Project, build a project schedule based on the following scenario. Print the Gantt chart. If required by your teacher, also print the Network Diagram (i.e., a PERT chart). In the table to the right is a list of tasks a student can perform to have an international experience by attending a university abroad. You can build schedules for several versions of this set of tasks. For the first version, assume that all predecessor tasks must finish before the succeeding task can begin (the simplest version). For a second version, identify several tasks that can begin a few days before the end of the predecessor task. For a third version, modify the second version so that some tasks can begin a few days after the beginning of a predecessor task. Also, insert a few overview tasks such as Application tasks, Preparation tasks, Travel tasks, and Arrival tasks. Be sure to state your assumptions for each version.
Go to the Comp TIA Web site (www.compTIA.org) and find the requirements for the project manager exam (Comp TIA Project+). Write a one-page summary of the expertise and knowledge required to pass theexam.
1. Do you think the decision by CLT to build its own project managers from the existing employee base is a good one? What advice would you give to CLT to make sure that it has strong project management skills in the company?
2. What kind of criteria would you develop for Monica to use to measure whether Stewart (or any other potential project manager) is ready for project management responsibility?
3. If you were Monica, what kind of advice would you give to Stewart about managing his career and attaining his immediate goal to become a project manager?
It was time for Stewart Stockton’s annual performance review. As Monica Gibbons, an assistant vice president of information systems, prepared for the interview, she reviewed Stewart’s assignments over the last year and his performance. Stewart was one of the “up and coming” systems analysts in the company, and she wanted to be sure to give him solid advice on how to advance his career. She knew, for example, that he had a strong desire to become a project manager and accept increasing levels of responsibility. His desire was certainly in agreement with the needs of the company.
The chapter identified six areas of project feasibility that need to be evaluated for any new project. However, as indicated, each of these areas of feasibility can also be considered an evaluation of the potential risks of the project. Based on your understanding of Rocky Mountain Outfitters, both from this chapter and the information provided in Chapter 1, build a table that summarizes the risks faced by RMO for this new project. Include four columns titled (1) Project risk, (2) Type of risk, (3) Probability of risk, and (4) Steps to alleviate risk.
Identify as many risks to the project as you can. Type of risk means the category or area of the project feasibility that is at risk. It might help you think about risks in the different categories, for example (1) risk management, (2) economic, (3) organizational and cultural, (4) technological, (5) schedule, and (6) resources. The chapter provided a few examples of risk in each of these areas. However, many other risks can cause project failures. Think as broadly as possible and expand the list of potential risks in each area.
Obviously, other kinds of risks are associated with a project of the magnitude of the customer support system. You might want to consider some risks external to the company, such as economic, marketplace, legal, environment, and so forth. Other types of internal risks might also be associated with components that are purchased or outsourced, such as development tools, learning curves, poor quality of purchased components, and failure of vendors.
A common risk management technique is to build a table and identify the top 10 risks to the project. Contingency plans can then be built for the top 10 risks. Periodically, the project management team reevaluates the risk list to determine the current top 10 risks. After you build the table, identify which risks you would classify as the top 10 risks.
1. Now consider the way the project was probably initiated. To what extent is the project the result of
(a) An opportunity,
(b) A problem, or
(c) A directive?
2. Many of the system users (such as employees at health-care facilities) are not Reliable employees. What risks of project failure are associated with the mixed user community? What would you, as a project manager, do to minimize those risks?
3. What are some of the tangible benefits to the project? What are some of the intangible benefits? What are some of the tangible and intangible costs? How would you handle the project’s benefits and costs that will accrue to the health-care facilities— would you include tangible benefits and costs to the nursing homes in the cost/benefit analyses? Why or why not?
4. Overall, do you think the approach taken to the project (sequential waterfall versus iterative and incremental) would make a difference in the tangible and intangible costs and benefits? Discuss.
5. Overall, do you think the approach taken to the project would make a difference in minimizing the risks of project failure? Discuss.
Chapter 2 discussed Reliable Pharmaceutical Service’s Web-based application to connect its client nursing homes directly with a new prescription and billing system. You considered both the risks of a sequential, waterfall approach to the SDLC and the risks of an iterative and incremental approach to the SDLC for its development.
List the six activities of systems analysis.
What are three types of models?
What is the difference between functional requirements and nonfunctional requirements?
Explain the use of a discovery prototype and an evolutionary prototype.
List and describe the three fact-finding themes.
What is the objective of a structured walkthrough?
Explain the steps in preparing for an interview session.
What are the benefits of doing vendor research during information-gathering activities?
What categories of stakeholders should you include in fact-finding?
What is meant by vertical and horizontal dimensions when determining users to involve?
What is JAD? When is it used?
What is BPR? What does it have to do with systems analysis?
What technique is used to validate user requirements?
Describe the open-items list and explain why it is important.
|What do correct, complete, and comprehensive mean with regard to systems analysis?
List and describe the seven information-gathering techniques.
Draw and explain the symbols used on an activity diagram?
Provide an example of each of the three types of models that might apply to designing a car, a house, and an office building. Explain why requirements models are logical models rather than physical models.
One of the toughest problems in investigating system requirements is to make sure that they are complete and comprehensive. What things would you do to ensure that you get all of the right information during an interview session?
What can you do to ensure that you have included all of the right stakeholders on your list of people to interview? How can you double-check your list?
One of the problems you will encounter during your investigation is “scope creep”—that is, user requests for additional features and functions. Scope creep happens because sometimes users have many unsolved problems and the system investigation may be the first time anybody has listened to their needs. How do you keep the system from growing and including new functions that should not be part of the system?