REVISION PAPER 2
The growth of telecommunications has made information a key organisational resource, which requires careful management.
- Give your definition of an Information System. (5 marks)
- The management of information may be divided into two categories:-
- Information management and ii. Information Systems management
Give a detailed description of each of these managerial tasks. (10 marks)
- It has been suggested that both these managerial tasks commit personnel involved to a
‗Lifelong learning process‘. What are the reasons for this point of view? (5 marks)
(Total marks 20)
REVISION PAPER 2
- IS can be defined technically as a set of inter-related components that collect, process, store and retrieve and distribute information to support decision making, coordination and control in an organization.
- Two types of manager required: –
- The Information manager is responsible for the process of identifying, defining, acquiring, storing, processing, protecting and distributing both data and information.
- The Information Systems manager must understand individual managers‘ information needs, the value of the information that is required, and must be able to design and provide the appropriate supporting information, communications and technological system the organization requires.
- Lifelong learning:- As organizations change very quickly, so do their information needs. At the same time the range of computer H/W, S/W and communication techniques changes just as rapidly. To cope with these moving sands of organization and technology, requires a good knowledge of existing tools and techniques, awareness of future developments, an open mind to change and an ability to be a flexible and creative problem solver.QUESTION TWOInformation systems are usually more to do with people than technology. Over the last century the task of management in organisations has been studied by many academics. Their
studies have been categorized under three main headings:-Technical-Rational, Behavioural and Cognitive.
- Outline the major aspects of each of these headings; ( 5 marks for each heading)
- List the people involved in developing an information system. (5 marks)
(Total marks 20)
Outline of Technical-Rational, Behavioural and Cognitive management theories. a. Outlines
- Technical -Rational:-
The organization is perceived as a closed system in which the efficiency and effectiveness depend on the precision of operation, the creative design and integration of the individual parts. The managerial role is to plan, measure, control, organize, co-ordinate the parts such as machinery, operators, jobs and tasks so that they function as efficiently as possible. This perspective can have two variants, the scientific school which focuses on the factory floor and the administrative-bureaucratic which focuses on the office administration.
- Behavioural: –
Appeared after the technical-rational perspective and considers people who work in an organization not being automata. It considers the role of small groups, their norms and working environment. Considers the organization as an open system and the efficiency and effectiveness depends on how the group continually adapts to its environment and its ability to rearrange itself internally so that it can ‗fit‘ the current environment in which it operates. Here again there are two variants, one which focuses on the psychological and socialpsychological needs of the employees and the other focusing on the organization and its structure and its ability to adapt to the rapidly changing environment in which it operates.
- Cognitive: –
This is concerned with the ability of an organization to ‗know‘ and ‗learn‘ from its own environment and from the environment in which it operates. The organization‘s efficiency and effectiveness depend on its ability to gather, create, store, classify, disseminate and use information and knowledge that it accumulates over time. The managerial role is to make sense of the latent information and knowledge available to them together with their own intuition and experience, to perceive problems and design solutions and to build an information and knowledge processing infrastructure for the organization.
- People involved in the development of an information system: o User o Systems analyst- to provide system requirements.
- Programmers- to code software.
- Project manager- He is in charge of the project.
- Senior organizational management- they approve and take part in reviewing the development effort.
- Experts in various fields to provide views needed in the feasibility study.
- Software and hardware maintenance vendors to provide maintenance and support (if it is not carried out by the organization).QUESTION THREEImplementing a new information system, computer or manual, into an existing organisation requires careful planning for it to be successful.
- Outline the various organisational (NOT COMPUTER) factors that must be considered and planned for to ensure the probability of a successful implementation; (14 marks)
- Outline the relationship between information systems and organisational politics.(6 marks) (Total marks 20)QUESTION THREEImplementing a new information system
- Non-computer organisational factors to consider
The implementation of a computer system is likely to affect an organization in a number of ways:- o Organisational structure change;
- Will the past history and culture of the organization be affected; oExternal environment factors such as the use of computers at home; Possible change in organisational levels, currently flatter;
- Significant changes in the current tasks and the decisions that are taken; o Are management supportive of the changes that will occur as a result of the new system;
- Age, skills, computer literacy of the workforce involved.As
we question ourselves. The above factors are to be considered.
- Relationship between information systems and organisational politics
Information systems can determine what information, its content, its timing and action required within an organization, leaving little latitude for individual discretion. By so doing IS helps to determine the access of specific subgroups and interests in the organization to information which is a key resource. Thus the balance of political power that already exists may change causing unrest in the organization.
Most data work takes place in an office.
- Outline the three major roles of an office. (6 marks)
- What is an Office Automation System (OAS)?(2 marks)
- Outline what application packages might be found in the accounts office; (4 marks)
- Word-processing and desk top publication applications have created a problem of an
increased flow of paper. Document imaging systems can reduce this problem.
- Describe the key elements of a document imaging system;
- Outline why a document imaging system can significantly reduce the paper-flow.
(Total marks 20)
- Major roles of an office are: – o The collection, distribution and coordination of work within the organization across
levels and functions; o The collection, distribution and coordination of work from the organization‘s
oThe coordination of the work of local professional, managers, sales and clerical workers.
- OAS can be defined as any application of information technology that intends to
increase the productivity of information workers in the office.
- Typical applications packages in the accounts office are:- oAccounting,
o Spread-sheet o Word processing.
- WP/Imaging systems
- Elements of document imaging systems are scanners, powerful computer, bulk opticalstorage systems (jukeboxes), index servers for document retrieval, retrieval equipment
consisting primarily of workstations with graphics capabilities and printers, all connected by LANS.
- Imaging systems can reduce document flow by allowing more than one person to workon a document via workstations. Previously with paper-based systems, work was carried on sequentially on a document. With the availability of LANS, retrieval systems and workstations, processing can be done in parallel thus reducing the total document processing time.
Many organizations operate an Information Systems department responsible for providing a wide range of IT related services. Describe the role of the following employees within an Information Systems department.
- Project Manager
- Systems Analyst
- Data Analyst
- a) Project manager
Much of the work that takes place in an Information Systems Departments relatively unique and non-repetitive. For example, organizations developing a major application will probably only undertake such a task at most every five years. These ‗one off‘ developments are usually organized as projects where a team is brought together to undertake the work and is disbanded when the work is completed. A designated project manager has ultimate responsibility for the planning, development and delivery of the products produced in the project. The project manager manages the team that has been brought together to undertake the project. , allocating work, monitoring and reporting the progress of that work as well as motivating members of the team. It is the project manager who usually develops and maintains the project plan and who identifies slippage against that plan and takes appropriate action.
Most information systems projects deliver software that automates organisational processes. The successful development of these software solutions partly depends upon building a correct understanding of how business processes currently work and how the user wants them to work in the future. Understanding and documenting current systems and defining the requirements of their successors is the task of the systems analyst. He/she usually undertakes a series of interviews with the user to determine how they currently work and how they wish to work in future. From such fact finding the analyst formalizes these requirements in a document called the Requirements Specification where the required processe3s and performance of the proposed system are described in bother graphical models and textual models.
The Requirements Specification produced by the Systems Analyst is further refined into a design specification which shows how the organisational requirements specified by the user will be delivered by the computer based solution. Part of this design will be the detailed specification of processes. This detailed specification will be passed to the programmer who has responsibility for writing the program code to implement the processes. This code has to be functionally correct as well as adhering to agreed standards of program design and syntax. The program is usually subjected to a formal structured walkthrough where the program is checked for correctness and adherence to organisational standards. It is the responsibility of the programmer to perform a series of unit tests before releasing the program into the wider system.
- Data Analyst
The process specifications described in the previous sections are e only part of the design specification. Another important part of the design is the data specification usually consisting of a graphical entity relationship model supported by tables describing the content of each entry. Data Analysts often perform the production of this data specification and indeed they may be involved in earlier specification work, providing specialized assistance to the system analyst. In any structure data analysts will report to a data base administrator suggesting that they may also undertake the
design of files and databases, producing a robust and efficient database design to support the business processes specified in requirements analysis.
- The assurance of quality is an important aspect within all information systems
departments. Explain the following two stages of an internal quality assurance process.
- Unit testing (7 marks) ii. Systems testing (7 marks)
- Explain how using formal specification methods can contribute to improved quality
assurance. (6 marks)
QUESTION SIX a.) Unit testing
Programmers usually perform unit testing. Programmers receive specifications from systems designers and develop programs to meet these requirements. Once they are sufficiently confident about their programs they undertake a set of formal tests. These are usually
- Ensure that every line of the program has been executed and is working properly – Ensure that data stored by the program is accurately placed in the correct filed in the database
- Ensure that interactions with other programs are working correctly
- Ensure that error conditions are handled correctly
Unit testing is performed explicitly on the program code and structure. It is often termed white box testing because it is concerned with inspecting the internal logic of the program.
The analysts who have developed the functional specifications and specified the design of the system usually perform system testing. System testing is often termed black box testing because the testing is concerned with proving that certain inputs produce predicted outputs. It is not concerned with proving the internal logic of the programs that cause the transformation to take place. This has already been done in unit testing. Hence system testing is concerned with ensuring that the system meets the functional requirements defined in the requirements specification. It also considers the general usability of the software. In some organizations system testing includes load or stress testing which tests the system under operational conditions, ensuring it can still deliver the required performance when handling operations volumes by the agreed number of users.
- b) Most formal specification methods have defined methods and rules of construction. For example in a DFD it is not acceptable to directly link a data store to another data store or an external entity with a data store. Adherence to the rules of construction can be checked in structured walkthroughs and this assists the quality assurance of the product. It does not assure that the product is functionally correct, but it does ensure that the product is
constructed to the required standard.
Graphical models open up the design process to user scrutiny. This will help to ensure that the system is doing the right things as well as doing them right.
‘It is one thing to have ownership of your own computer systems but another to accept the responsibilities of ownership such as data integrity, security and overall risk management ‘.
This statement was made by a member of the board of a leading company. Explain what the statement means and indicate how the company can ensure that it‘s responsibilities of ownership ‘are properly carried out. (20 marks)
Privacy issues associated with sensitive data held on a computer system is an obviously important consideration. The statement highlights three important aspects.
- Data integrity is the term used to describe the accuracy and correctness of data during and after processing. Systems controls are designed into a system as procedures to maintain the integrity of the data and are incorporated at all stages in the system’s
operation. Typically systems controls perform the following functions:- o Recognizing when problems occur
- Finding and eliminating errors
- Ensuring that all data is processed o Maintaining the correct timing and
- Sequencing of input and output processing oRestarting the system efficiently when a breakdown occurs or when data files have been corrupted providing a record of all processing operations
- The security of information relates to all aspects of protecting information from unauthorized access, sabotage, accidental loss or damage, fraud and physical damage.
Systems security seeks to provide protection against the following:- o The security risk of unauthorized users gaining access to the system
- The accidental loss of data stored on computer files-for example due to operator error or updating the file.
- The deliberate sabotaging of the system oThe risk of physical damage to computer files caused by dirt, water, fire damage and explosion
- Managing the risk associated with computer security essentially involves reducing the risk profile of the company to the lowest feasible level. Risk management involves three
- Risk assessment – arises from a full examination of all security factors. It should be noted that risk is a specific to an organization at a point of time and will change as applications are changed, new hardware introduced etc.
- Risk minimization – is the action the organization takes when it has identified its exposure to risk and is the most critical aspect of the exercise. The process is often termed computer security and will cover a multitude of aspects such as
the provision of standby facilities and disaster recovery procedures.
Risk Transference – recognizes that it is impossible to eliminate all risk however effective the security is. The uncovered elements of risk can be transferred through the medium of insurance to an insurer of data
A software house produces a software package for the insurance industry. Purchases of the package have formed a very active user group which has lobbied for a particular change to be made to the software to improve the functionality and usability of the software.
- Briefly explain the following terms:
- Corrective maintenance; (3 marks)
- Adaptive maintenance; (3 marks)
- Perfective maintenance. (3 marks)
- Briefly explain the meaning and purpose of a user group (3 marks)
The software house has an internal quality assurance process for implementing software changes
Explain each of the following two stages of an internal quality assurance process:
- Unit testing. (4 marks) (d) System testing. (4 marks)
( a) (i) Corrective maintenance
Corrective maintenance addresses two sets of faults. Firstly, the correction of programming errors which have caused the software to fail. Secondly, the correction of system functions that do not perform to the agreed user specification. Hence corrective maintenance is concerned with making the software perform as it should have done in the first place. It should lead to a robust system that supports the user requirements signed off at the start of the project.
- Adaptive maintenance
Adaptive maintenance is concerned with changes required to make the software support new or changed business circumstances. These changes will emerge throughout the project as a result of changes in the business process, changes in the priorities of users and external influences such as new government legislation. Adaptive maintenance is concerned with making sure that the software continues to robustly support the user
requirements during the lifetime of the system.
For example, the User Group may request adaptive maintenance to improve the functionality of the software.
- Perfective maintenance
Perfective maintenance attempts to make the software perform more effectively. These changes may include alterations in the user interface (to make the system easier to use) and the integration of new program sub-routines (to make the software run quicker). Perfective maintenance does not change the functionality of the software, but it should make that functionality more accessible and efficient. For example, the User Group requires perfective maintenance to improve the usability of the software.
(b) There is a tradition of individual users of software products banding together toexchange information and experience of using a particular package. In many instances this is translated into a formal User Group which acts as a forum for exchanging information and experience between members as well as forming a focus for lobbying the software developer to develop new features and correct current problems. In many
instances the activities of the User Group are encouraged and financed by the software developer as it provides a convenient and coherent focus for defining the features that will further enhance their product. Most User Groups issue newsletters and hold regular conferences, which allow new and prospective users of the software to evaluate the software developer and the products it offers.
( c) Unit testing
Programmers usually perform unit testing. Programmers receive specifications from systems designers and develop programs to meet these requirements. Once they are sufficiently confident about their programs, they undertake a set of formal tests. These are usually designed to:
- Ensure that every line of the program has been executed and is working properly o Ensure that data stored by the program is accurately placed in the correct field in the database
- Ensure that interactions with other programs are working correctly
- Ensure that error conditions are handled correctly
Unit testing is performed explicitly on the program code and structure. It is often termed ‗white box testing‘ because it is concerned with inspecting the internal logic of the program.
( d) System testing
The analysts who have developed the functional specification and specified the design of the system usually perform system testing. System testing is often termed ‗black box testing‘ because the testing is concerned with proving that certain inputs produce predicted outputs. It is not concerned with proving the internal logic of the programs that cause that transformation to take place. This has already been done in unit testing. Hence system testing is concerned with ensuring that the system meets the functional requirements defined in the requirements specification. It also considers the general usability of the software, perhaps against agreed Style Guides. In some organizations, system testing includes load or stress testing which tests the system under operational conditions, ensuring that it can still deliver the required performance when handling operational volumes by the agreed number of users.