The Building of Information Systems

How does building new systems produce organizational change?

The process of building a new system should not be considered as a linear process. It cannot be completed as soon as a system is created. Therefore, a number of additional changes, corrections, and improvements are required to be a part of a system, so that its building can be defined as one of the forms of a planned organizational change. Its main types are automation that helps to increase the efficiency of work, rationalization of procedures that can be used for quality improvements, business process redesign that creates a solid analytical base, and a paradigm shift that promotes the development of new business models.

What are the core activities in the systems development process? Distinguish between systems analysis and systems design. Describe the activities for each

There are several core activities that can be involved in a new system development or the improvements of an existing information system: analysis, design, programming, testing, conversion, production, and maintenance. Systems analysis and design are the preparatory steps. Systems analysis is the activity that is focused on the studies and problems of the systems under consideration and the identification of the main requirements that can be used for solutions. System design helps to clarify the specifications of the solutions made and explain the combination of all technical and organizational components of the system.

What are the principal methodologies for modeling and designing systems? Compare object-oriented and traditional structured approaches for modeling and designing systems

There are two crucial methodologies that can be applied to modeling and designing systems: object-oriented and traditional structured. Object-oriented development is the approach that helps to introduce a system in a form of a collection of special objects that can be used to combine data and different processes. An object is the basic unit of such an approach, and such concepts as class and inheritance are used as its background. The focus of traditional structured methods is the separation of modeling processes and data. The data flow diagram is used to succeed in structured data analysis, and the chart is used to represent a structured software design.

What are the alternative methods for building information systems? Define the traditional systems life cycle. Describe each of its steps and its advantages and disadvantages for systems building

There are several alternative methods that can be used in a system building process in different ways. They are prototyping (the development of a new inexpensive experimental system in a short period), outsourcing (the use of an external vendor is required to build a system), end-user development (with its peculiar feature to provide ordinary people with a chance to develop an information system without or with little technical help), and some application software packages (they can be used to reduce the volume of work in designing, programming, and other activities of the system development process.

The traditional systems life cycle is another alternative method. It is one of the oldest approaches that promote systems building in several formal stages. Each stage has to be sequentially connected to each other and begins only after the previous stage is formally approved: project definition (the identification of a problem and solution), systems study (the analysis of problems and evaluation of solutions), design (specifications of a solution), programming (the choice of software programs), installation (the way of how a new system is put in operation), post-implementation (the analysis of the work and the results achieved).

The main advantage of the method is the possibility to build large systems and have clear guidelines to be followed. The disadvantages are the impossibility to check the effectiveness of the system until all stages are completed, the necessity to spend much time on a building process, and the inability to gain control over its financial aspect.

What are new approaches for system building in the digital firm era? Define rapid application development (RAD) and agile development and explain how they can speed up system-building?

Joint application design, component-based development, and agile development are the new approaches to system building. Among them, rapid application development (also known as RAD) is frequently used due to its possibility to create workable systems in a very short period. It is based on such elements as prototyping, automation, teamwork, and visual programming that help to create an informative system. In its turn, agile development promotes a rapid delivery by dividing large projects into small ones and defines communication as an effective tool to improve collaboration and speed up a decision-making process.

Discussion Questions

Why is selecting a systems development approach an important business decision? Who should participate in the selection process?

A systems development approach is an important business decision as it identifies the frames of the activities that should be taken during a new system building process, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and helps to explain the possible milestones of a project. An organization should choose its best representative, who has the appropriate technical knowledge and can use it during communications with other team members.

Some have said that the best way to reduce system development costs is to use application software packages or user-friendly tools. Do you agree? Why or why not?

I agree with the fact that the reduction of system development costs is possible due to the use of application software packages or some user-friendly tools. These tools help to identify cheap outside purchases that can replace expensive in-house software. Besides, such packages can be modified to meet all the necessary requirements.

Why is it so important to understand how a business process works when trying to develop a new information system?

The understanding of the work of a business process is crucial for the development of a new information system as it helps to clarify what steps have to be done first, how much time is required for an implementation process, and what outcomes should be expected at different stages of a project. Besides, the success of this kind of work may influence the further development of the work in different departments. It is unacceptable to make a mistake in the development of a new information system and ignore the possible outcomes.