In today’s world, business information and systems is paramount and many successful people have used these business systems as a competitive tool. Many who have done it right they have a horrendous story of success to tell the world and the tool to fight off the competitors inform of new products, best service delivery to and for the customer and best marketing strategy.
The world being a global village, then the business systems have an important role to play for any institution or organization to accomplish something. Always business systems involve a lot of data which has to be recorded and maintained accordingly. The data then will be analyzed and used to make decisions and solve many a problems that face or may face the organization or the business enterprise.
Therefore the business system has a very wide scope of things to perform and may be expected to perform complex jobs. These jobs are performed in different functional departments in an organization. Some the main departments in any business organizations include Human Resource, Department of Finance, Customer Service, Marketing and Production. There may be some other smaller departments in organizations depending on their business ventures. In every department data is processed. Every main department is subdivided into other small departments.
Initial system identification and analysis:
Any business information system plays a fundamental role to the goals of a business organization. The system should assist the organization to accomplish the ambitions and objectives that are set by all departments within the organization. It is wise to create or develop a system within the organization. Many organizations have failed because of duplication or imitations without considering the internal needs of the organization. When starting or planning for a business system, internal needs are very important. Some years back any business was handling its services manually. Everything was manual but with the advent of computers everything is taking a different course. A course of advancing human resource management, data management, payroll and customer satisfaction.
It is exclusively important to study the old system before starting to design a new one. The old system will be an opener on what is required for the will-be a new system. Every functional unit department of any business organization has its unique features that must be studied fully. To study them effectively, the people involved that is the departmental heads are required to provide all the information and how their departments work. Not only how they work, but what advancements do they need and the general view on how to compete with others who are in the same operations or business or industry.
After the study of the old business system, the system analysist can be able to define what the new system will accommodate and how it will function to boost the production and lower the production cost for higher profitability and then put the other competitors in check. The end users of any system are very vital hence a greater advantage to involve them. The end users that are the customers are also involved so that the new system can be of use.
Therefore, the system identification starts with which kind of the organization it is, what departments are in that organization and who are the end users of the business system. For example, in any business organization there are five main departments and these are Human Resource management, Department of Finance, Customer Services Department, Marketing Department and Production. The system identification will coincide with these departments. The departments will then show the attributes, behaviour, and the relationships.
This organization is involved with the purchasing of vehicles and then selling them within the country and to the neighbouring countries. So the organization has the five main functioning departments and other fringe departments. All this departments are organized and led by departmental heads. The departmental heads work with other junior staff members who are supporting them in terms of communicating with the customers and serving them. These junior staff members are the ones who directly engage with the customers directly and indirectly that is through the phone.
The junior staff members are the ones who generate reports quarterly for the departmental heads that in turn make minor and major decisions and then make the final or yearly reports. The production department makes account of how many vehicles that arrive in the country daily or the specified period of time. While the marketing department ensures that the marketing of vehicles is timely done. The advertisements of the company products i.e. the vehicles and the accompanying goodies are on the media in time and the attractive means are used.
The entire system is using files and there are so many cabinets in their offices in the headquarters and the branches that are spread all over the country and the neighbouring countries. The entire office network is connected by telephone lines and the use postal addresses are common.
There is rising need of overhauling the entire system with a new business system that will enable the company or this business enterprise to compete with other, have a competitive edge and advantage with the other existing business that have been empowered technology.
Data flow in the above diagram. Final data goes is received in the Human Resource Department.
System definition and understanding:
From the above structure, there is need to understand how every department works and how they relate to each other. These departments will be a source of knowledge so that it will be easy to develop a new system that reflects the needs and objectives of the system. The new system will be compatible to other components like the networking that will be involved, the system documentation, type of computer files, computer programs like the operating systems, hardware and software requirements.
The Human Resource department will comprise of active features of the organization policy, this is the department which will consist of personnel data and personnel development. The personnel data will be concerned with the personnel details such as date of Birth, address, telephone, residential place and the email address. Then the employment record will have features like personal skills of employees, vacation dates, etc. development data may include details of courses the staff of the organization undertake and paid fro by the organization, special skills and change of skills for the benefit of the organization.
The Finance department will comprise of parts or sections like, the account payable or salaries for the employees, accounts received or money gotten from the sales of organization products and general accounts. Collectively the financial department will develop and forecast the financial status of the organization. The financial status and forecasts will be done on a quarterly basis by tracking the financial transactions, the financial resources and the financial status.
On account received, this section or part of the system will maintain the records of money owed to the organization and hence it will produce invoices, and check the credit limits of customers. The system will be able to record payments made against invoices and send reminders when payments are late or when time for payments are nearing. The system will be able to impose fines for late payment.
On accounts payable, the section of this business system will keep the record of monies owed to the organization by other institutions or organizations. It will be able to maintain record of purchases, verify the invoices and make payments to the suppliers.
For the general accounts section, the system will keep track of the funds or money used by the internal departments and then it will be able to produce reports quarterly about the organization’s assets and the utilization of the resources of the organization. This will be able to make budgets for all the departments of the organization, the system itself will be able to oversee the projects undertaken and be able to monitor the spending against the budget set for particular projects. The system will be able to produce yearly reports of assets, liabilities and annual income and expenditure of the entire organization.
In the production department, the system will be to analyze costs and related components to produce a new product. The system will be used to advertise the product internally and externally using the internet. So the system must be adaptable to the internet by having good features of connectivity.
The marketing department has a lot to do for example, identifying the customer bases and their needs, address the customer grievances and many other features. The system to be developed will address all these things and the others which may arise.
Customer services department will deal with may be online shopping and how the products purchased are delivered to the customer and generally the new business system will monitor all customer activities.
Attributes of structured methods:
- (i). It will have generic techniques that are process and data oriented.
- (ii). It will follow a top-down functional hierarchical decomposition.
- (iii). It will involve review throughout all the project stages.
- (iv). The design will be divided into logical and physical design.
- (v). The system will be more diagrammatic which makes it easier to be understood.
- (vi). The system will provide and ensure a mechanism for project running, control and management.
- (vii). There is an allowance and an assurance for quality control check points of the new system.
- (viii). Environment – and this is the different physical circumstances that may require special equipment and tools e.g. high temperatures
A method to define the steps that will in return be used to define the steps in analysis must be identified and then the new business system will begin. There are various types of models to be used. The development cycle models are a set of activities. The common models are:-
- (i). The Waterfall Model
- (ii). Prototyping model
- (iii). The V-shaped model.
- (iv). Spiral model.
The most appropriate model is the waterfall that resembles the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The diagram below shows the model.
This is the initial preliminary study of the problem. This feasibility is intended to determine the possible and suitable solutions for the problem. The purpose of the feasibility study is to identify the current business opportunities and technology in line with the organization aims and objectives. This is the stage involves the system analyst, the departmental heads and the end users i.e. the customers. This is the level where the system analyst will identify and quantify the need. The analysist will define the boundaries of the project, resources required, time frame of the project and constraints of the new systems. This is the best time the new system may be grounded or abandoned by the management due to financial constraints or the time frame.
This is the time for project planning and management. The project team will be selected and several task oriented groups and the resources required will be set at this time. This is the time the required software and hardware are identified. However, the project planning at this level involves the management of people as well as resources and the time to make sure the new system is ready as scheduled and without excessive costs.
The old business system does a lot just from production of goods and services to the customer services and customer concerns. But the old system works manually, in every department there are heaps of files which even makes it difficult to retrieve data and information of one month or two months old hence making it burdensome for the departments heads and even end users to make timely decisions. Due to these concerns and delay in making of crucial decisions on matters of the organization there is need to come up with a new business system that will change the working environment to boost production and enhance services. The old system has three disadvantages that are as follows:-
- (i). The system is slow and time consuming.
- (ii). Decisions take a long period of time to be reached.
- (iii). Data and information retrieval is cumbersome.
With business enterprises that are currently coming up, the above hindrances have been checked. Consequently, the old systems that have not been changed cannot compete with the new business systems.
There are good and bad business systems determined by their quality. Quality is a relative term that refers to the expectations of the customer and the standards defined by the organization. A methodical approach to a new business system development produces faster results, efficient system and a better quality system. Any system development can be produced using two methods:-
- (i). AD hoc method
- (ii). Systematic method
The ad hoc method is quick and sometimes smart a program. This method creates a system that is quick but unmaintainable. The system is hard to debug and upgrade.
The systematic or structured method creates a good and effective system. This method uses well known and defined methods and techniques. Therefore they make use of project management to control the project time and the budget. For the new business system, the structured method is used and will consider the following factors:-
- (i). Investment capital which may be higher but the final product is of the best and highest quality.
- (ii). Time scale meaning the length of time it will take to come into use. The cost of the project is tied with the time scale i.e. the longer it the higher the costs.
- (iii). Expected benefits.
- (iv). Installation setbacks i.e. minimize costs of installation.
- (v). Maintenance, update and upgrades. This being the most important factor because of dynamic technology that will be used.
The work of the system analyst becomes handy at this stage. The system analyst breaks down the system into subsystems which are in return broken down into smaller components. This is where the suitable design is implemented by defining data storage, security procedures. Programmers get their design details from this level. The design stage must balance the following: – system requirements, user information requirements, information processing cycle, system development methodologies and even the organizational characteristics.
This is the stage where software product is targeted using the best programming language and databases. This phase involves translating the design into actual program coding. The coding may take a long time because the programmers will be going back to the users to assess the function and the user requirements which are used as quality measure. Because satisfying the end users needs confirms the quality of the new business system. The programmers will do the unit testing.
This stage of the new business system is ready for an operation and the environment for operation. Testing, verifying, validation and installation is done here. The changing of system from the old system to the new system is simply the whole process of implementation.
Benefits of The new system will do the following:-
- (i). The business enterprise will make appropriate and real time or timely decisions.
- (ii). Data and information retrieval will be rapid and will be done any time anywhere. This is where all the offices are located.
- (iii). The systems will connect to the latest technology that is the internet. This will cut costs of using the old communication like telephone and the postal addresses.
- (iv). The departmental heads will access data without necessarily meeting the other staff members.
Hindrances to face when implementing the new system:
There are a few but tough challenges that will be encountered when implementing the new system. Some are the following challenges: –
- (i). The networking logistics of the system in the entire department that are involved.
- (ii). The reluctance of some user to empress the new system because of that fear that they may loose their jobs in the organization
- (iii). Exposure to security threats because the system has encompassed a wider area that is the internet.
The above challenges can only be addressed in the initial stages of the system development, when the users are assured that the system will not dismiss them from their positions but will offer improved services. The issue of security threats can be handled by regularly assessing the security strategies that were set in place when the feasibility study was being undertaken.
The only major constraint that may be encountered by the new system is the internet connections whereby we no internet in some remote areas. If we have to connect to the internet, the costs of acquiring that will be so exorbitant for the oganization.
These are statements that describe the functionality or services that the system is expected to provide, how the system should react to particular situation. In some particular cases, the functional requirements may also unambiguously state what the system should not do. The description of functional requirement depends on the type of software which is being developed, the expected users of the software and the type of the system which is being developed.
When expressed as users’ requirements, they are usually described in a fairly general ways but functional system requirements describe the system function in details, its inputs and outputs, exceptions, etc. in principal, the functional requirements specifications of this system will be both consistent and complete. Completeness means that all the services required by the user should be defined. Consistency is that the requirements should not have incongruous definitions.
Non- functional requirements:
These are the requirements which are not directly concerned with the specific functions delivered by the system. These may define constraints on the system such as the input/output capabilities. These non-functional requirements may relate to emergent system properties such as reliability, store occupancy, etc. and failure to non-functional system requirements may make the whole system unusable. It is prudent to remember that these non-functional system requirements arise from the user needs may because of the organizational policies, safety, privacy, legislation, etc. this implies that the system users are supposed to be in touch always with the system analysist to avoid later expenses. It also means the system must have an allowance to be upgraded when necessary need arises.
New System Checklist
- (i). Pentium 4 computers.
- (ii). RAM to be 512MB and above
- Processor speed of 2.2 GHz
- Windows Operating System e.g. Windows 2003 Server best for network environment.
- (v). Network work security hardware like the firewall.
- Internet connectivity.
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