Chapter 1The Systems Development Environment

Chapter 1

The Systems Development Environment

Chapter Overview

Chapter 1 serves as an overview of systems analysis and design, as well as an overview of the textbook. This chapter introduces students to systems analysis and design and the components of the systems development environment. Students are introduced to several systems development components, including the process and data-oriented approaches to systems development; organizational roles and responsibilities in systems development; different types of information systems; and the traditional systems development life cycle.

This textbook is intended primarily for juniors taking a core course in the information systems major, although the book can be adapted for a similar course at the junior college level or for a two-course sequence on analysis and design. Often students are not familiar with the systems development process, different organizational components, or how these components work together. This chapter provides the general organizational context in which systems development takes place.

Instructional Objectives

Specific student learning objectives are included at the beginning of the chapter. From an instructor’s point of view, the objectives of this chapter are to:

1.Define and discuss the modern approach to systems analysis and design, with an emphasis on the combination of both process and data views of systems.

2.Show how systems development in an organizational context involves many different roles beyond those played by the systems analyst and others in the information systems unit.

3.Illustrate how systems development extends to many different types of information systems and not just transaction processing systems.

4.Introduce the traditional information systems development life cycle, which serves as the basis for the organization of the material in this textbook, starting with “Making the Business Case” in Part II and running through “Implementation and Maintenance” in Part V.

5.Show students that the life cycle is a flexible basis for systems analysis and design and that it can support many different tools and techniques, such as prototyping and JAD.

Classroom Ideas

1.Emphasize the differences among methodologies, techniques, and tools. Such differences are not obvious to students; often students think of methodologies as a set of techniques and that techniques and tools are synonymous.

2.Figure 1-1, Figure 1-2, and Table 1-1 summarize the major points about the data-oriented and process-oriented systems development approaches. Use these figures and table to clarify the differences between the two approaches and emphasize the need to balance the data and process orientations.

3.Chapter 1 introduces several organizational roles and discusses how these roles are involved in systems development. Figure 1-3 is an organization chart for a typical IS department. Students are interested to know that not all organizations have differentiated IS units. At this point, use different organization charts to show the relative importance of IS to an organization and the different sizes IS units can assume. Use whatever organization charts you have available to illustrate these differences. One example is to compare a bank, where IS reports to the chairman, to a city government, where IS is several hierarchical units below the city manager, to an organization where there is no IS unit.

4.Discuss the history of IS units in organizations, from the days where IS was a part of the accounting function, to when IS became an independent unit, to when IS was becoming less centralized (and less relevant) in the days of departmental IS shops, through end-user computing and microcomputers, to the reemergence of strong IS units in the current trend of networking and client/server.

5.During class discussion, provide concrete examples of the different types of IS: transaction processing systems, management information systems, decision support systems, and expert systems. Ask students to provide examples of the different types of IS. Table 1-3 summarizes the different IS types.

6.When presenting the different types of information systems, discuss the differences between systems that support back room operations, such as basic accounting functions, and systems that directly affect the bottom line.

7.When introducing the textbook’s systems development life cycle model, introduce other life cycle models. This reinforces to students that no one standard life cycle model exists and the model they will use as a systems analyst will likely differ from the textbook’s life cycle model. The point is that the life cycle represents activities that must be done, and the phases are a way to introduce, in an organized way, the methods, techniques, tools, and skills necessary for successful systems analysis and design.

8.Provide a brief overview of the activities and outputs from each of the six life cycle phases, based on your own experience or from reading the rest of the textbook.

9.Although prototyping and Joint Application Design are covered in more depth later in the textbook, you can provide a more in-depth introduction to these techniques. Figure 1-10 illustrates the prototyping methodology and can be used to facilitate the prototyping discussion, such as how it adds to the structured development techniques.

10.This chapter briefly introduces students to CASE tools. While Chapter 4 provides a detailed discussion of CASE tools, you may provide more discussion of CASE tools at this point.

11.Two video segments support your lecture on this chapter: “Joint Application Design” and “Application Engineering.” The JAD video segment is about 18 minutes long, and the Application Engineering video segment is about 12 minutes long. Video segment guidelines are provided in a separate section of this instructor’s manual. See the Preface to this instructor’s manual for information on how to obtain copies of these and other video segments produced for use with the third edition of Modern Systems Analysis and Design.

Answers to Key Terms

Suggested answers are provided below. These answers are presented top-down, left to right.

18.Object-oriented analysis and design / 9. Implementation
22. Project identification and selection / 15. Maintenance
23. Project initiation and planning / 28. Systems development methodology
8. Design / 12. Inheritance
11. Information systems analysis and design / 27. Systems development life cycle
3. Application software / 2. Application independence
26. Systems analyst / 5. Database
16. Object / 6. Data flow
13. Joint Application Design / 21. Processing logic
24. Prototyping / 20. Process-oriented approach
14. Logical design / 7. Data-oriented approach
19. Physical design / 10. Information
17.Object class / 4. Data
1. Analysis / 25. Stakeholder

Answers to Review Questions

1.Information systems analysis and design is the complex organizational process through which computer-based information systems are developed and maintained.

2.Traditionally, an information system’s design was based on what the system was supposed to do. Each application had its own files and data storage. The data had to match the specifications established in each application, and each application was considered separately. The data-oriented approach depicts the ideal organization of data, independent of where and how data are used within a system. Some people believe a data model is more permanent than a process model, since a data model reflects the inherent nature of the business instead of the way the business operates, which is constantly changing.

3.The textbook mentions IS managers, systems analysts, programmers, business managers, and other IS managers/technicians. IS managers allocate resources and oversee approved projects. Systems analysts use analytical, technical, managerial, and interpersonal skills to develop new systems. Systems analysts play a key liaison role between users and programmers. Programmers convert system specifications to code. Business managers set IS development priorities, fund projects, and approve projects. Database administrators, telecommunications experts, human factors specialists, and internal auditors are other types of IS managers and technicians involved with systems development; their responsibilities depend on their particular jobs. Although the textbook does not highlight the end user role as a separate category, end users help determine system requirements. In some cases, end users, with the assistance of IS professionals, develop applications.

4.The textbook discusses transaction processing systems, management information systems, decision support systems, and expert systems. Transaction processing systems automate the handling of data about business activities or transactions. Management information systems take the information generated by transaction processing systems and convert it into aggregated forms meaningful to managers. Decision support systems are designed to help organizational decision makers make decisions by providing an interactive environment that uses data and models. Expert systems represent attempts to codify and manipulate knowledge rather than information by mimicking experts in particular knowledge domains.

5.The six systems development life cycle phases are project identification and selection, project initiation and planning, analysis, design, implementation, and maintenance. During the project identification and selection phase, an organization’s total information system needs are identified, analyzed, prioritized, and arranged. During the project initiation and planningphase, a potential IS project is explained, and an argument for continuing or not continuing with the project is made. During the analysisphase, the current system is studied, and alternative replacement systems are proposed. During the design phase, the description of the recommended solution is converted into logical and then physical system specifications. During the implementation phase, the information system is coded, tested, installed, and supported in the organization. During the maintenance phase, the system is systematically repaired and improved.

6.Structured analysis and design help reduce maintenance time and effort. Structured analysis and design make it easier to return to earlier phases in the life cycle, such as when requirements change. Also, there is an emphasis on partitioning or dividing a problem into smaller, more manageable units, and making a clear distinction between physical and logical design.

7.Prototyping is an iterative process of systems development by which requirements are converted to a working system, which is continually revised through close work between an analyst and users.

8.JAD is a structured process in which users, managers, and analysts work together for several days in a series of intensive meetings to specify or review system requirements.

9.Object-oriented analysis and design is a set of systems development methodologies and techniques based on objects rather than data or processes.

10.In the early years of computing, analysis and design were considered an art. However, with the growing importance and changing nature of information technology and its usage in the work environment, work methods have evolved, making analysis and design a disciplined process. Through the years, the systems developer’s job has moved from builder to integrator. In the 1950s, the development effort concentrated on the processes the software performed; emphasis was placed on automating existing processes; all applications were developed in machine language or assembly language and developed from scratch. In the 1970s, systems development became more disciplined as many people worked to make it more like engineering. In the 1980s, microcomputers became key organizational tools; the software industry expanded greatly; fourth-generation languages were used more and more to write applications, and CASE tools were developed. In the 1990s, the focus shifted to system integration, and developers were using visual programming environments to design user interfaces. Databases began residing on servers, as well as the application logic. Companies began purchasing enterprise-wide systems, and more and more systems development focused on the Internet, particularly the Web. The current focus is on Web-based systems development and wireless components. Additionally, many system implementations use a three-tier design. Currently, companies may assemble their systems using off-the-shelf components or by using application service providers.

11.Successful team characteristics include diversity in backgrounds, skills, and goals; tolerance of diversity, uncertainty, and ambiguity; clear and complete communication; trust; mutual respect and putting one’s own views second to the team; and a reward structure that promotes shared responsibility and accountability.

Answers to Problems and Exercises

1.Methodologies, techniques, and tools help ensure the quality and appropriateness of the system being built. Following a systems methodology, applying techniques, and using appropriate tools provides structure to the systems development process, since they have been tested and perfected by others. The quick and easy approach to building systems may be easier, cheaper, and quicker in the short run, but it almost always results in a poorly developed system, meaning that the system will be less than optimal and require extra work to maintain. In the long run, a poorly developed system requires more time and money to make right. Following an engineering-type approach ensures that systems analysis and design is rigorous, structured, and systematic.

2. For an ATM transaction, the data include customer name, customer account number, customer personal identification number, customer account balance, transaction type, and transaction amount. At this point, the student should not be expected to know the structure or nomenclature of a data flow diagram or of processing logic. It is more important that the student analyzes the transaction, decomposes the transaction into its component parts and data elements, and understands the process. For the ATM example, the customer inputs his personal identification number by hand and, if this number matches with the account identification number, he is granted access, and begins an ATM transaction. The customer inquires about his account status, withdraws money, or deposits money. If, for example, he makes a withdrawal request, this request is compared with his available funds and the ATM machine’s allowable daily limit. If acceptable, the cash is dispensed, the customer’s account is debited, and a receipt is provided.

3.The student project team’s size should be adequate for the project. Additionally, the team members should possess the necessary set of skills and experience for the project. It is important that a diversity of skills and abilities exists among the team members, but it is also helpful if the team members have common interests and values on which to build collegiality and trust. It is not necessary to clearly identify a team leader; leadership can rotate by time or phase. However, clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each team members should be identified. A reward structure, promoting shared responsibility and accountability, should be established. Since this project is for a small business client, team members must act professionally and deliver a quality product on time. When organizing a project team within a professional consulting organization, these steps do not change much. Since you are more concerned with the long-term professional growth of the team members, you might make team member selections and project assignments that take into account each team member’s long-term career development.

4.Prototyping is useful for requirements determination, helping to clarify and communicate user requirements. Also, a prototype can serve as the basis for the final system. As an example, imagine that an analyst is developing a computerized inventory-tracking system. This inventory-tracking system provides a sales representative with real-time access to inventory levels. The analyst asks the sales representative what kinds of inventory information he needs, including when and where he needs to access this information. Using a graphical, object-oriented development tool, such as Microsoft Visual Basic, the analyst quickly builds several sample interface displays. The sales representative reviews these displays and provides the analyst with feedback. Based on this feedback, the analyst modifies the displays and, again, solicits feedback from the sales representative. Given Visual Basic’s ease of use, the analyst can build the sample interfaces “on-the-fly” with the sales representative present. The sample interfaces can be used to build the actual system, either in Visual Basic or in some other development environment.

5. The systems analyst’s role in the SDLC is essentially the same as that in prototyping. During prototyping, the analyst is simultaneously performing tasks from the analysis and design phases. In cases where all or part of the prototype are used for the actual system, then the analyst is also performing tasks from the implementation phase. In cases where the analyst builds the prototype with the direct, real-time assistance of the users, the analyst and users are collaboratively completing several steps of the SDLC in one step.

6. The process-oriented approach focuses on the flow, use, and transformation of data in an information system. Process-oriented techniques and notations show data movement from their sources, through intermediate processing steps, and on to their final destinations. The traditional process-oriented approach does not specify the natural structure of data. In contrast, the data-oriented approach depicts the ideal organization of data, independent of where and how data are used within a system. A data model describes the kinds of data needed in systems and the business relationships among the data. Both approaches are necessary and are captured within the SDLC. The process-oriented approach helps us understand and improve how the organization functions. This is particularly important to popular process improvement techniques, such as business process reengineering. The data-oriented approach helps us understand, preserve, and protect the organization’s data resource. This is critical to the current efforts in organizations to provide employees with easy, real-time access to accurate data.