June 2009 Time Allowed: 3 hours
Answer any FIVE questions. Marks allocated to each question are shown at the end of the question.
- Client/Server architecture, database technology and networks provide structures which facilitate sharing of corporate data and information.
As an information Technology (IT) specialist, outline the major precautions that should be taken into account in the process of sharing data. (6 marks)
- Describe the relevance of the following to a Decision Support System (DSS):
- Specialised packages: (2 marks)
- Query languages; (2 marks)
- Database management system (2 marks)
- List four application packages that you might consider using on a micro-computer for administrative functions in an organisation. Explain how each of these packages can increase an organisation‘s efficiency. (8 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
- Major precautions to be taken into account in the process of sharing data and information.
- Logical access control to the system and data files
This refers to controlling those who have access to terminal of a computer from gaining access to the data of software.
Logical access can be achieved through the use of passwords and software controls. They ensure that:
- Data stored in the database files is not corrupted by unauthorised users or lost.
- Unauthorised access of data is restricted thus maintaining data confidentiality and integrity
- Data which is transmitted through the networks is not stolen during transmission by unauthorised persons. This can be achieved through data encryption.
- Physical access controls
These are controls which prevent unauthorised people from getting near the computer equipment or the storage media. They ensure that they system is protected against sabotage or access by unauthorised users. They can be achieved through:
- Use of mechanical devices such as lock and keys to protect the system.
- Use of closed circuit cameras to identify unauthorised users.
- Use of electronic identification devices for users such as the card swipe systems.
- Location of the computer room to limit access to computer systems.
- Safe data transmission techniques
These are techniques which ensure that data being transmitted via a network cannot be accessed by unauthorised users. They include:
- Data encryption: – This is a method of data transmission whereby data is transmitted in a
coded or encrypted form and for the recipient to be able to read it must be decoded.
- Parity checks: – These are controls that check the transfer of data as it is being transferred from one system to another by use of a parity bit added to each byte.
- File identification checks
This precaution is especially important in the client/server architecture method of data processing. It ensures that correct files have been loaded for processing and that correct labels are sued. This enhances the reliability of data.
- Data transmission controls
These are controls on data which is being transmitted via a network link. They include: i) Sampling of files and tracing them back to the original source documents.
- Establishing terminal check schedule for transmission.
- If transmission is batch oriented, the serial number of programs in each batch must be examined. iv) Use of data encryption and protocols.
- Administrative controls
This include division of responsibilities, physical checks, environmental screening, sociological influences of information technology system, selection of personnel back up facilities etc.
- Relevance of the following to a Decision Support System (DSS)
- Specialised packages
Specialised packages refers to special application programs which are fully documented for the performances of a particular problem. They can be statistical or quantitative for example, spreadsheet, accounting packages, graphics, design or clerical packages.
These packages assist the user of a Decision Support System in analysing the different courses of action regarding a particular problem. They are particularly important during the analysis stage by the system so that various courses of action can be recommended.
- Specialised packages can also be used during sensitivity analysis during decision-making.
These packages also help decision makers in analysing various decision models, for example, through variance analysis, linear programming and regression analysis system.
- Query languages.
These are computer facilities, which allow a user of a database or Decision Support System to formulate ad hoc queries in order to obtain useful information from the database. The relevance of query languages to a Decision Support System is to help the users of the system
to express what result is required without specifying how the result is to be obtained. In this case, the user is able to obtain a variety of recommendation and approaches to his queries.
- Database Management Systems
This refers to a set of software or programs, which provide the interface between the logical and the physical data it manages the database. Its relevance to the Decision Support System in that it handles the interpretation and processing of the statements which are commanded in the query language. The Database Management System facilitates the retrieval of the required data from the data files in the manner which the user specifies and which it communicates in the manner appropriate for his decisions.
- c) Application packages for administrative functions and how they can increase an organisation‘s efficiency.
Application programs are programs that are designed to help users t carry out specific activities.
- Data management package
These are packages, which help the creation and maintenance of data for enquiry and reporting purposes. This packages allow for the creation of timely reports which are updated whenever such are required by management thus they can keep track of the organisation‘s events and thus improve efficiency.
- Graphics packages
These are packages, which provide facilities that allow users to do various kinds of computer graphics and produce drawings or diagrams using such input devices as mice. These packages are important particularly to business organisations as a means of producing business charts and graphs so as to perform such activities as trend analysis
and thus measure efficiency.
- Spreadsheet packages
These are computer packages which deal with computations involving inter-related rows and columns of data. Spreadsheets can based to perform calculations on the value
displayed in the rows and columns. Spreadsheets are important to organisations in that: – i) They contain numerous cells thus can handle a lot of data.
- ii) They contain chart facilities such as pie charts and bar charts which can be used in information analysis.Thus spreadsheets will obviously improve an organisation‘s efficiency by offering it the above advantages. Examples are MS Excel and Lotus 123.
- Word processing packages
These are special purpose packages used for the production of documents such as letters, reports and contracts. They enable general purpose computers such as personal computers to be used for word processing.
These packages can increase the overall efficiency of the organisation in that they are quick and produce accurate documents free from spelling mistakes thus improve the accuracy of information.
- Explain what is meant by a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and account for the increased
- QUESTION TWO
i)Describe the composition and the roles of walk through teams.(8 marks)ii)Provide a checklist of items to be examined during the walkthrough.(4 marks)
- design and implementation of such interfaces. (8 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
- Composition and roles of walkthrough teams
Systems walkthrough refers to a situation whereby the system developed is submitted to a tem of a number of technicians including the ones who developed the system to go through it statement after the other checking for errors completeness and quality. The system is technically put through a desk checking exercise.
The walkthrough teams may be composed of:
- The System Analyst: The analyst specifies the kind of a system to be developed and designs the program and the system as a whole so he must be included during the system
- The System Programmer(s): – He writes programs that have been specified by the analyst so he is included in the team so as to detect any errors.
- Operation managers: – He is in charge of the data preparation section and other sections of computer centre and so he is aware of all data processing requirements.
- User department managers: – They are responsible for all shop finer operations.
- The IS project manager checks for documentation, conformity to plan and as such is aware of the new system specifications so he can be involved to determine whether such needs are achieved.
The roles of walkthrough teams are:
- To detect and remove any errors in the system
- To check for the completeness of the system as per specifications
- To guarantee the system quality
- To ensure that the system complies with user requirements
- To ensure the system reliability so as to ensure that the system is free from any abnormality or vulnerability.
Systems walkthroughs are procedures that are commonly used as a means of quality assurance in the information systems development process.
- Checklist of items to be examined during the walkthrough
- Design specifications
- User orientation
- System quality in terms of efficiency, flexibility and economy
- System integrity in terms of security features
- Mantainability of the system
- b) What is Graphical User Interface and why is there an increased design and implementation of such interfaces.
Graphical User Interface (GUI) refers to the interaction between end users and the computer based upon a graphical display. The are tools which are designed to enhance personal computing work thus mostly fitted on workstations or personal computers with graphics adapters able to support high resolution graphics (GUIs) are inherently visual and usually come with graphics software packages such as painting and drawing packages.
The reasons why there is increased design and implementation of such interfaces are:
- To enhance end user computing whereby users solve their own problems without seeking assistance from experts.
- To enhance user friendliness of the system through easy to learn interfaces.
- To eliminate the need for technical training on use of the system.
- To reduce the amount of effort and information required of the user to get the system complete required tasks.
- The system should be able to adjust to different levels of expertise between users an as users grow in competence.
- The user should be made to feel in control f what is going on.
- To make it easy for users to start using a system.
- The system should behave in a logical and consistent manner enabling the user to reason about what is going on and apply what has been learned.
Write short descriptive notes on the following:
- Electronic Data Interchange(5 marks)
- Client/server computing (5 marks)
- System specification(5 marks)
- Electronic point of sale system (5 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
This refers to a form of computer to computer data interchange through agreed standards by all parties. The concept of one computer communicating to another can be faced with major difficulties such as: –
- i) Each business organisation wants to produce documents to its own individual
requirements and structure. ii) Different makes of computers cannot easily communicate to each other due to
iii) Businesses may be working at different time schedules especially when engaged in international trade.
Thus, to ensure electronic communication is possible, agreed formats for these electronic documents recognisable by all parties to the transactions are agreed upon.
The advantages of EDI are:
- If an organisation is decentralised, EDI can expedite internal billing 2. If an organisation‘s paperwork is intricate and complex, EDI can speed it up.
The disadvantages are:
- Joining EDI network is quite expensive
- There may be problems with deciding which categories of information are to be sent or
- Problem in adapting internal systems so that they match up with EDI translation software. b) Client server computing
Client-server computing refers to a way of describing the relationship between the devices in a network whereby the tasks that need to be carried out are distributed among various machines on the network.
A client is a machine which requests a service. For example, a PC running a word processing application which the user wishes to print out.
A server is a machine which is dedicated to providing a particular function or service requested by a client. They include file server, print server, and fax servers.
A client server system allows computer power to be distributed where it is most needed. This approach has the following advantages:
- i) It reduces network communication costs ii) It allows the central computer to be used for administrative tasks such as network
iii) The technological flexibility of this type of system allows the use of sophisticated applications such as multimedia.
- System specifications
This refers to a complete documentation of the whole system which is properly maintained or updated as parts of the system are changed or added to. Problems arise in computer installations because of inadequate systems and program documentation and controls must be set up to ensure that updating procedures are always carried out.
Specifications involve a complete description of a program usually including flow charts, program listings, test data and expected results. System specifications are drawn up by the system analyst. There should be program specifications and hardware specifications for every individual program or hardware in the system.
- Electronic point of sale system
This is a terminal unit or a system capable of selling, processing and receiving sales and stock particulars by selling transactions. They are mostly used in retail outlets as terminals connecting the cashier to the computer database containing the stock and sales data. It
comprises of 3 units namely:
Bar code scanner
- Cash register keyboard
- Cash register visual screen panel or VDU
When a customer presents an item to the cashier, the cashier either enters the keyboard numbers through the keyboard or uses the scanner to read the bar code. The information is then sent to computer memory, which interprets the information and retrieves the data from the magnitude containing the stock and sale. The system calculate the total amount of purchases and sales before reconciling the stock. It also gives out the itemised receipt and change to customer.
The advantages of this system include: –
- It is very fast and convenient to both the cashier and customer.
- It gives more accurate and reliable services
- It reduces the need for oriental personnel 4. It provides automatic control of stock and sales data.
However the system suffers the following drawbacks 1. It is vulnerable to mechanical and power failure.
- It is very expensive and requires large organisation with substance data processing
- Updating or alteration of stock or sales data involves a lot of work and cost.
- Name six guidelines required for the development of new information systems. (6 marks)
- Explain the meaning of the following terms, bringing out clearly the distinction between the terms in each pair.
i) Unit testing and systems testing. (2 marks) ii)Preventive and perfective maintenance (2 marks) iii)Co-processing and parallel processing. (2 marks) iv)Logical and physical design of a system. (2 marks)
- (c)Explain the contribution that an information resource centre might make towards end-user (6 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
ANSWERS QUESTION FOUR
Guidelines required for the development of new information systems
- good system must be economical or cost effective meaning that tangible and intangible benefits derived should overweigh all the costs involved in the development.
It will be in the interest of the user to develop a system which is fast enough so as to accommodate changes in the real time environment
- good system must be expandable or flexible so that user requirement can be incorporated from time to time.
- User oriented
The system is designed for the user but not user for the system thus it must be user specific so that it is acceptable to them.
- good system should help users develop confidence through reliability this means cases of breakdown or abnormality should be reduced.
- High level integrity
- good system should safeguard the user confidentiality or the privacy of information under processing.
Meaning of the following terms:
- Unit testing and system testing
Unit testing refers to trials made to individual components of hardware or software. For example, when a program is developed, in-house unit test for each program in the system is conducted to test the interface between individual programs in the system.
System testing refers to thorough test performed on the system as a whole. It involves tests or trials on the system intended to sort out major bugs or problems using dummy or invented data so as to test all conditions. For example, dummy test data records should be input which is designated to test all the data validation routines and master file update error reports in the system.
- Preventive and perfective maintenance
Preventive maintenance refers to maintenance carried out to take account of anticipated changes in the processing environment. Changes in user operating procedures occur from time to time and software may require amendments to reflect this so as to prevent the system from failing or becoming obsolete.
Perfective maintenance is carried out in order to perfect the software or to improve software so that the processing inefficiencies are eliminated and performance is enhanced. It consists of making enhancements requested by users to improve or extend the facilities available. For example, amendments to make software more user friendly.
- Co processing and parallel processing.
Co-processing refers to a situations whereby two central processing Units (CPUs) execute one single program at a go. A program may be run by two processors at a single time in a situation whereby the data being processed is complex and bulky.
Parallel processing refers to a situation where by a single system handles multiple programs at a time. The CPU attention is switched among the programs on a timed basis controlled by the operating system thus it appears as if each program is having uninterrupted access to the CPU.
- Logical and physical design of a system.
Contributions that an information resource centre might make towards end user computing:
An information resource centre is a small unit of staff with a good technical awareness of computer systems whose task is to provide a support function to computer users within the organisation. End user computing refers to direct hands-on of computers by users and not indirect use through systems professionals or the data processing staff. End users include executives, managers, professional staff, secretaries, office workers and so on.
The contribution made by information resource centres towards end user computing include:
- Encouraging users who wish to develop their own applications and providing them with technical assistance.
- Encouraging users to conform to any hardware or software or programming standards that the organisation might use. For example, to make sure that all microcomputers purchased by the organisation are compatible and so could be moved around from
department to department if necessary.
- Ensuring that applications developed are replicated by others in the organisation where this will be of benefit to the organisation.
- Advising end users on ways of getting better use out of their existing systems. Computer users might be unaware of what their system is capable of doing or how to set about
making use of the system capabilities.
- The resource centres should be readily available to end users and the centre‘s staff should try to keep a high profile with end user departments. This enhances adequate support.
This can be achieved through the use of a telephone ―hot line‖ or a drop-in advice centre.
- The widespread use of computers in offices have raised major health and safety issues.
Describe three major health related problems that may result from intensive computer use and list three products that may be made available to improve the working conditions of
personnel using computers. (9 marks)
- Describe any three basic strategies that an organisation can employ to obtain competitive
advantage and illustrate the role of Information Technology in each case. (9 marks) c) Distinguish between online and offline transactions. (2 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
ANSWERS QUESTION FIVE
- Major health related problems that may result from intensive computer use and products
available to improve the working conditions of personnel using computers.
- Loss of eye sight due to eye strain
Intensive computer use could lead to strained eyes due to the light from the visual display unit. This light could eventually lead to loss of sight by users.
Bugs or errors to ensure that the system is free from such. 8. Consistency with the system documentation.
- trained back due to inappropriate posture while using a computer. Intensive computer use especially long sessions of computer use in an uncomfortable situation could lead to damage to the user‘s backbone leading to bad posture.
- Brain damageBrain damage can result from extensive use of computer systems especially where those systems contain remote connections meaning that there is radiation which could spoil the user body systems.Products which are available to improve the working conditions of computer users include.
- Tinted screens able to protect users from direct light from the visual display unit.
- Specially designed furniture which are designed to improve user‘s comfort when
- Anti-radiation devices using to protect users from being affected by radiation.
- Basic strategies that an organisation can employ to obtain competitive advantage and the role of information technology in each case.
Strategies refer to long term objectives and goals and the ways by which these will be achieved. These include: 1. Information strategy
The proliferation of computers in commercial applications has put commercial organisations on a competitive advantage.
A strategy for information systems can be justified based on the following reasons:
- i) Information technology is critical to the success of many organisations as it involves
the collection of timely and accurate information for decision-making. ii) Information technology can be used as a commercial strategy in the battle for competitive advantage. It can be used to improve productivity and performance through such facilities as the computer aided design (CAD) and computer integrated manufacturing.
- Information technology for information strategies is required in the economic context and can produce dramatic changes in individual businesses and whole
industries especially where there are other major forces for change.
- It involves many stakeholders namely consumers and not just management within the organisation‘s consumers test IT based products through tele-shopping thus a strategically placed business will obviously provide a competitive advantage.
Information strategies can cover 3 areas:
- Information system strategy – This refers to the long term directional plan which is business led, demand oriented and concerned to exploit information technology to
support business strategies or create new strategic options.
- Information technology strategy – this is a product of information systems strategy that deal with technologies. It provides a framework for the analysis and design of
technological infrastructure of an organisation.
- Information management strategy: – this refers to the basic approach an organisation has to the management of information systems such as planning, organising controlling of system development methodologies.
- Product strategies.
This refers to strategies employed by businesses to ensure that their products remain the market leaders in terms of quality and productivity. Product strategies are used to ensure that the producer of a particular product provides the best required satisfaction in his products so that consumers are convinced that the products they are consuming are superior than others produced by other producers.
Information technology can be used by the producer who is pursuing a product strategy, to improve productivity, performance and quality. This can be achieved through such techniques as: –
- Computer Aided design (CAD) which is used to design better products and make them appear more superior.
- Computer integrated manufacturing which can be used to automate the manufacturing system
- Market strategy
These are strategies used by business organisations to ensure that they remain or attain the status of market leaders within their markets. Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates, and supplies customer requirements efficiently and profitably.
The key to achieving organisational goals consists of being more effective than competitors in integrating marketing activities towards determining and satisfying the needs and wants of target markets.
Information technology can be used as a market strategic weapon to develop new businesses. For example, the creation of an electronic market place where subscribers can trade via terminals. Information technology has provided such facilities as the internet where buyers can access seller‘s web and place orders via the internet. Also, other technologies such as Electronic Data interchange (EDI) and Electronic commerce (ecommerce) are all market strategies.
- Distinction between online and offline transactions.
- Online transactions refers to transactions which are initiated directly by the system and immediately processed by the system and at the same time output immediately they are
- Offline transactions refers to transactions which are initiated outside the system. They are not directly processed by the central processing unit. Offline equipment such as keypunch machines for punching cards have no direct hook-up with then central processing unit.
Without proper consideration of the behaviour of people in the business organisation setting even the best technically designed system is likely to fail.
- Analyse the most common reasons that may lead to resistance to the introduction of
INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY and how an
organisation can overcome it. (12 marks)
- ―Change is inevitable‖. Change occurs in many ways and adapting to change is a primary
management responsibility. Identify the factors, which bring about change in an
organisation. (8 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
ANSWERS QUESTION SIX
- Reasons that may lead to resistance to the introduction of IFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY and how an organisation can overcome it.
User resistance refers to the reluctance of some people to move to the new system or to give information or accept new ways of doing things. It arises due to the following reason: 1) Fear of unknown consequences of adopting new ways by users.
- Fear of loss of status or power by users especially senior managers who feel that their duties will be overtaken by use of computers.
- Fear of loss of jobs or job security where new ways automate clerical and manual
- Attention to interpersonal relationships whereby human beings are required to interact with the system instead of other people.
- Fear of acquiring new training based on technology or technophobia. 6) Changes in job content since most procedures will be automated.
- Mode in which the change from old procedures to new procedures is implemented. Poor changeover methods can lead even to system failure.
- Assigning change responsibility to somebody within the organisation who possesses the organisation‘s power to legitimise change.
- Factors which bring about change in an organisation
Change refers t to the alteration of relationship and roles people play in the organisation. It is any shift in status quo of an organisation to enable it to be better aligned with its environment.
Factors which bring about change in an organisation are:
- Change in technology which would push the organisation into the need to remain technologically advanced thus competitive edge.
- Changes in the market situation such as new entrants into the market which could bring about new competitors.
- Social and political changes which could result from change sin tastes of consumers or change sin government legislation affecting the business.
- Changes in managerial personnel whereby new managers can bring about new ideas, policies and systems.
- Deficiency or inadequacy of the existing systems leading to the need for new improved
- Employees desire to share in decision making thus need to accommodate their ideas.
- Rapid growth of small companies thus the need to extend the capacity.
- If the company is about to join ranks of very large companies, this will necessitate change so as to harmonise operations with those of the acquirer. 9. Demands by employees for higher pays, better job satisfaction etc.QUESTION SEVENThe continuing development and improvement of information technology has revolutionised the accountancy functions in most organisations.
a)Discuss the benefits and dangers of the increasing use of information technologies to the
accounting functions in an organisation.(16 marks)b)Identify the major factors that influence the structure of an information system.(4 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
- Benefits and dangers of the increasing use of information technologies to the accounting functions in an organisation.
- Information technology to the accounting functions has brought about the simplification of accounting duties since accounting programs are more easy to learn and use as
opposed to manual procedures.
- Single packages used in information processing in the accounting function are thoroughly tested before being released then it follows that more quality and error free information is
output in the system thus boosting the reliability of financial information.
- Information technology facilitates the timely output of routine reports such as annual This improves the organisation‘s efficiency and accounting information.
- Most packages used in the accounting function contain the audit trail of the accounting entries made on the organisation during the year. This boosts the authenticity and
reliability of information as well as improving the internal and external check system
- Information technology has resulted to less expensive processors such that processing of accounting information will be widely available for many tasks at an acceptable cost, for example, accounting packages could provide both financial information and information for audit purposes.
- Increased information technology has also resulted in increased end user computing in the accounting function such that even less qualified accountants can be able to perform
more complex tasks like preparation of final statements.
- Accounting functions may also be equipped with expert systems to provide the organisation with complex accounting information such as financial management and
- Extensive use of information technology has resulted to the development of more productive and easier for users to access and use especially vital accounting information.
- Accountants may not be able to cope with complex technology thus resulting to reduced efficiency in the accounting functions.
- Information systems development staff may not communicate well with each other so that user requirements are not properly met thus information
- Wider access to data as a result of widespread information technology increases the risk of threats to security particularly where data is transmitted between sites.
- Information technology may result to a tendency to produce information for the sake by the accounting function rather than because it is required.
- Technology is still at its infancy and changes in the needs in the accounting function could lead to extra costs when upgrading occurs.
- Major factors influencing the structure of an information system.
- Organisations resources and activities: – An organisation can be likened to a system operating in a given environment thus its information system will be structured in
accordance with its environment.
- Size of the organisation: – The size of an organisation will determine the structure of its information system, for example, very complex organisations will have complex systems
while small organisations may also have only a stand alone computer system.
- Geographical dispersion of the organisation: – The organisations with branches all over are likely to have distributed data processing systems.
- The management structure of an organisation: – This is likely to affect the flow of information especially the direction in which information flows.QUESTION EIGHT
- What factors should guide a systems designer when designing the user interface for a
particular application? (10 marks)
- Currently there has been a general trend to consolidate previously separate data centres into larger centres or the move from classic decentralisation as a proliferation of mini data processing departments into centralised information system providers.
Explain the factors influencing re-centralisation of information systems. (10 marks)
(Total: 20 marks)
- Factors that guide a systems designer when designing the user interface for a particular .
User interface refers to the interaction between users and the system. The primary purpose of user interface is to enable communication to and fro between the user and the computer.
The most important feature of computer user interface is that it should be user friendly and as the name suggest user friendly interface is one that end user finds helpful, easy to learn and easy to use. In this case then, the system designer should consider the following actors in designing user interface.
- It should be relatively easy for the user to start using the application.
- As far as possible, the application should be self-contained so that the user is not forced
into accessing manuals or dealing with things that should be kept outside the system.
- The amount of effort and information required of the user to get the system to complete
required tasks should be kept to a minimum.
- The user should be insulated from unexpected or spurious system actions. This includes protection against being the cause of a system failure and implies that the system should
also be robust and reliable.
- The system should be able to feel in control of what is going on in the application.
- The system should behave in a logical and consistent manger thus enabling users to
reason about what is going on and apply what has been learned.
- The application should make it easier to access secondary documents.
- Factors influencing re-centralisation of information systems. Re-centralisation or upsizing refers to the process of consolidating distributed data processing centres into one central processing centre.
- Systems management is considerably more complex than for centralised systems. For example systems operate across the different platforms are few and far apart.
- Distributed systems involve the use of networks. This therefore brings about the problem of network management due to lack of appropriate software.
- Systems administration is also made easier by re-centralisation thus the organisation can adequately provide such. Vital features as system security, database administration,
backup and restore, and software distribution.
- Online maintaining of systems, fault detection tracking and resolution is made easier by re-centralisation.
- Data and systems security is improved since data is held centrally and is not vulnerable to degradation or other risks associated with computer networking.
- Re-centralisation helps to reduce communication costs for remote terminals. For example, there is no need for such devices as modems and internet access costs for internetworked systems.