Assignment Hippo Loader





Business Problem

Solutions to End of Chapter 1 Material

Review Questions

1. Give an example of a business problem.

See page 4 for some examples. The answer should focus on the business implications/needs of the problem. E.g., the self-insured health insurance program needs to project expenses for the next year based on past claims, changes in employee demographics, and estimated increases in health care costs.

2. What are the main steps followed when solving a problem?

Research and understand the problem, verify that the benefits of solving the problem outweigh the costs, define requirements for solution, develop a set of possible solutions (alternatives), decide which solution is best, define the details of the chosen solution, monitor to make sure that you obtain the desired benefits.

3. Define system.

A collection of interrelated components that function together to achieve some outcome.

4. Define information system.

A collection of interrelated components that collect, process, store, and provide as output the information needed to complete business tasks.

5. What are the types of information systems found in most organizations?

Transaction processing system (TPS), management information system (MIS), executive information system (EIS), decision support system (DS), communication support system, and office support system.

6. List the six fundamental technologies an analyst needs to understand.

Computers and how they work, devices that interact with computers, communication networks, databases and database management systems, programming languages, and operating systems/utilities.

7. List four types of tools the analyst needs to use to develop systems.

Software packages used to develop systems, integrated development environments (IDEs), computer-aided system engineering (CASE) tools, and program code generators/testing tools/documentation support tools, etc.

8. List five types of techniques used during system development.

Project planning techniques, systems analysis techniques, systems design techniques, systems construction and implementation techniques, and system support techniques

9. What are some of the things an analyst needs to understand about businesses and organizations in general?

The activities and processes organizations perform, how they are structured, how they are managed, the type of work that goes on – finance, manufacturing, marketing, customer service, etc., and the organizational structure

10. What are some of the things an analyst needs to understand about people?

How they think, how they learn, how they react to change, how they communicate, and how they work (the variety of jobs and levels).

11. What are some of the types of technology an analyst might encounter?

Desktop systems, networked desktop systems, client-server systems, large-scale centralized mainframe systems, and systems using Internet technology

12. List ten job titles that involve analysis and design work.

Programmer analyst, business systems analyst, system liaison, end-user analyst, business consultant, systems consultant, system support analyst, system designer, software engineer, system architect, webmaster, web developer, etc. Also, project leader, project manager, lead analyst.

13. How might an analyst become involved with executives and strategic planning relatively early in his or her career?

Working on special projects, such as EIS or business process reengineering, and working on the information systems strategic plan brings the analyst into contact with top management.

Thinking Critically

1. Describe a “business” problem your university has that you would like to see solved. How can information technology help solve it?

Some likely answers are: takes too long to register each semester (put registration on the Web), information about open seats in course sections out of date (use real time update to the course enrollment database), information about required texts only at the bookstore (add required text info to Web so students can purchase texts anywhere), too many parking spaces sold for student parking lots (develop a DSS to forecast parking demand and balance number of permits sold), etc.

2. Describe how you would go about solving any problem you face. Is the approach taken by a systems analyst as described in the text any different?

Students’ answers should be based on the steps in Figure 1-1 on pg. 5: You need to thoroughly understand the problem, verify it is worth solving, define requirements for a solution, generate a list of alternatives, decide which solution is best, define the details of the solution, implement the solution, and follow up to make sure the solution is working. See additional activity discussion question above for the drama club party.

3. Many different types of information systems were described in this chapter. Give an example of each type of system that might be used by a university.

TPS: payroll, accounts receivable, etc. as with any other organization. But also include the transactions involving the mission of the university: admissions, registration, course add/drop, grade reporting, parking permits, room and board billing, etc.

MIS: enrollment summary reports and projections, course enrollment and credit hours by department, GPA summary reports, as well as all of the financial reports typically produced for budgeting and planning of any organization.

EIS: deans, VPs, and top administrators need information from a variety of sources internally, as well as demographic data about college age populations, trends in education, educational issues being considered by state and national government, sources of funds from the state or from foundations, etc.

DSS: course scheduling decision system, parking permit sales decision making,

Communication Support Systems: email, fax, Internet access for students, staff, and faculty.

Office support systems: desktop systems for faculty and staff, document management for faculty handbooks, academic affairs, and student affairs, campus calendar planing and updating, etc.

4. What is the difference between technical skills and business skills? Explain how a computer science graduate might be strong in one area and weak in another. Discuss how the preparation for a CIS or MIS graduate is different from computer science.

Technical skills involve understanding and using technology, including specific computer hardware and software. Business skills involve understanding business organizations in general and how they operate, including knowledge of functional areas such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, production, etc. Computer science graduates are very strong in technical skills; however, they have not studied management, accounting, finance, or marketing. Therefore, they will have more difficulty understanding the business problems faced by organizations. CIS and MIS graduates study both technology and business, so they are better prepared to understand business problems and the needs of end users.

5. Explain why an analyst needs to understand how people think, how they learn, how they react to change, how they communicate, and how they work.

Many business problems require support for communication and decision making of users. It is necessary to understand human decision making and thought processes in order to provide support for the problem. It is also important to understand the limitations of human thinking and memory when designing the user interface. On a political level, it is important to understand how people think to be able to predict their attitudes and reactions to problems and solutions provided. System developers need to make systems easy to learn and use, as well as provide help and training resources for users. Therefore, it is important to understand how users learn. Any new system (or change to an existing system) involves change. Therefore, it is important to understand how people view and react to change so the developers can overcome resistance and help users deal with change.

Analysts need to get information from users throughout the project, so it is important to understand how people communicate. Additionally, the analyst needs to present information to users in oral and written form, so it is important to master communication skills. Most information systems are designed to support the work of users, so the analyst needs to understand what users need to do to complete work tasks. Additionally, analysts need to understand the preferences of users for how they do their work.

6. Who needs greater integrity to be successful, a salesperson or a systems analyst? Or does every working professional need integrity and ethical behavior to be successful? Discuss.

The analyst should have high ethical standards. But then again, all business professionals need strong integrity, including salespeople, to be successful.

7. Explain why developing an information system requires different skills if the system is client-server versus large-scale centralized mainframe architecture.

Students should address the reality that there is a lot to know about technology. Developing a system requires knowledge and skills related to specific technology. No one person can master all types of technology, but if the analyst is working on designing and implementing a system with client-server technology, many specific details need to be understood. Most people begin to specialize in types of technology for this reason. But it is important to keep learning about new technology as technology changes rapidly.

8. How might working for a consulting firm for a variety of companies make it difficult for the consultant to understand the business problem a particular company faces? What might be easier for the consultant to understand about a business problem?

A consultant will not know much about the strategies, history, or culture of the client company, so understanding a business problem specific to the company is more difficult. On the other hand, the consultant will be more familiar with problems and solutions that come up in the industry generally and may have encountered a very similar problem in the past. Therefore, it might be easier for the consultant to step in and solve it.

9. Explain why a strategic information systems planning project must involve people outside the information systems department. Why would a consulting firm be called in to help organize the project?

Consultants specialize in managing the planning process. They are generally brought in from outside the company to train the staff and lead the effort. Sometimes it is better to have an outsider directing the project if it is controversial because a potential change can threaten people. Additionally, people in all functional areas of the company are needed because they understand the needs they have for information systems support. Finally, top management is needed to encourage the participation of everyone and to define the direction the company is headed.

10. Explain why a commitment to enterprise resource planning (ERP) would be so difficult to undo once it has been made.

ERP involves committing to adopting a set of integrated packages for major information systems support. Once the packages are installed, it is difficult to go back to the prior way of doing business. Plus, the business often has to change the way it operates to conform to the ERP system, making it even more difficult to go back. Finally, the large investment made makes it awkward for management to admit they made a mistake.

Experiential Exercises

1. It is important to understand the nature of the business you work for as an analyst. Contact some information systems developers and ask them about their employers. Do they seem to know a lot about the nature of the business? What types of classes did they take to prepare themselves (e.g., banking classes, insurance classes, retail management classes, hospital administration classes, manufacturing technology classes)? Do they plan to take additional courses? If so, which?

Students should find that analysts 1) know a lot about the business, 2) took some classes related to the specific industry, and 3) probably think it would help to take more. There is an opportunity for some class debate about the importance of general business courses vs. information systems courses vs. industry specific experience.

2. Think about the type of position you want (working for a specific company, working for a consulting firm, or working for a software package vendor)? Do some research on each type by looking at their recruiting brochures or Web sites. What do they indicate are the key skills they look for in a new hire? Are there any noticeable differences between consulting firms and the others?

Most will find an emphasis on problem solving skills and communications skills, coupled with a balanced technical background provided by a CIS/MIS major. Most will offer training in technology and will be less concerned about specific languages and environments. Consulting firms will be similar to any other employer with even more emphasis on understanding business problems faced by clients.

3. You read an overview of the Rocky Mountain Outfitters strategic information systems plan, including the technology architecture plan and the applications architecture plan. Research system planning at your university. Is there a plan for how information technology will be used over the next few years? If so, describe some of the key provisions of the technology architecture plan and the applications architecture plan.

Most colleges and universities will have a strategic plan, and we suspect most will include sections that address information technology. Issues involve computer use by students, computer support for courses, distance learning and internet based courses, web-based applications and financial aid, web based course registration, etc. Technology architecture plan would address issues of hardware and network infrastructure and the approach taken to systems. The applications architecture plan would detail the specific systems to be enhanced/added at the college or university.

Case Studies

Association for Information Technology Meeting

Three information systems professional discuss what they look for when interviewing college students for positions in their firms.

1. Do you agree with Alice and the others about the importance of problem solving skills? Industry specific insight? Communications skills? Discuss.

We agree with Alice that asking students how they go about solving problems and questions about problems facing the banking industry reveals much about the maturity and potential of the job applicant.

2. Should you research how a hospital is managed before interviewing for a position with an information systems manager at a hospital? Discuss.

We think the student should research the industry of a company before interviewing. First, the student should know whether the industry is appealing. Since much time is spent on the job working with people involved in the industry, it helps if it is interesting. Second, it gives the interviewer the feeling that the applicant cares about the job. Third, it allows the applicant to ask meaningful questions about problems and opportunities in the company. When the interviewer starts talking about a specific system, the applicant will know something about the problem solved by the system.

3. Do you think it really makes a difference whether you go to work for a bank, a hospital, or a retail chain in terms of your career? Or is any information systems job going to be the same no matter where you work? Discuss.

We think this is important for students to understand. If you go to work for a bank, you eventually might think of yourself as a banker. If you go to work for a retail chain, you might begin to think of yourself as a retailer. Information systems employees have loyalties to the IS field but also to the industry and company they work in. Since the expertise about the industry is so important and takes time to develop, it is often difficult to switch industries mid career. Students should give this some thought.

Rethinking Rocky Mountain Outfitters

RMO’s strategic information systems plan calls for building a new supply chain management (SCM) system prior to building the customer support system (CSS). John Blankens has stated often that customer orientation is the key to success. If that is so, why not build the CSS first, so customers can immediately benefit from improved customer ordering and fulfillment? Wouldn’t that increase sales and profits faster? RMO already has factories that produce many items RMO sells, and RMO has long-standing relationships with suppliers around the globe. The product catalog is well established, and they have existing customers who appear eager and willing to shop on-line. Why wait? Perhaps John Blankens has made a mistake in planning.

1. What are some of the reasons that RMO decided to build the supply chain management system prior to the customer support system?

The main reason is the need for reliable and efficient inventory management first so that customer demand can be satisfied once the CSS is implemented. The classic mistake is to advertise the product widely on the web but not be able to supply the product or service the customer after the sale. Supply chain management will prevent these problems.

2. What are some of the consequences to RMO if it is wrong to wait to build the customer support system?

Customers might shop elsewhere, sales would be lost, competition could overtake RMO, etc. But existing phone and catalog sales and the existing web site with product information are still available while the CSS is being built.

3. What are some of the consequences to RMO if the owners changed their minds and started with the customer support system before building the supply chain management system?

As discussed in 1, the classic mistake is to advertise the product widely on the web but not be able to supply the product or service the customer after the sale.

4. What are some other changes that you might make to the RMO strategic information systems plan (both the applications architecture plan and the technology architecture plan)? Discuss.

This is an opportunity to debate the preferred hardware/software platforms and architectures to use today and in the future. Is everything moving to Internet, web-based technology? Are package solutions the best choice? For applications architecture, the order of system projects could be debated: store systems first? Accounting finance first? Why have SIMS at all? Are CRM and SCM philosophies just more silver bullet sold by consulting firms?

Solutions to End of Chapter 2 Material

Review Questions

1. List and explain the activities of the Project Planning Phase.

See page 35-36 for both the list and brief descriptions of each: define the problem, confirm project feasibility, produce the project schedule, staff the project and launch the project.

2. What are the six activities of the analysis phase?

See page 36 for the list and a brief description of each: gather information, define system requirements, build prototypes for discovery of requirements, prioritize requirements, generate and evaluate alternatives, and review recommendations with management.

3. Describe the purpose of each phase of the SDLC.

See pages 35 through 38.

Planning phase is to identify and scope the new system, to ensure a solution is feasible, develop a schedule, and obtain approval for funding.

Analysis phase is to understand and document the business needs and processing requirements.

Design phase is to design a solution system, both at the architectural level and a detailed level.

Implementation phase is to build, test, and install a working system.

4. Define project management.

See page 41. Project management is the organizing and directing of other people to achieve a planned result within a predetermined schedule and budget.

5. Describe the types of feasibility analysis.

Financial feasibility is a measure to determine whether an investment in the development of a new system will result in a positive return on the investment.

Organizational and cultural feasibility is an evaluation of the risks associated with inserting new procedures and systems into an existing organization and organizational culture. It attempts to determine whether required changes to the organization and culture can be accommodated.

Technological feasibility is an evaluation of the anticipated technical difficulty of the new system and whether there exists sufficient technical expertise available to resolve all technical difficulties.

Schedule feasibility is an assessment of whether the proposed schedule for the system development is realistic and can be achieved.

Resource feasibility is an assessment of the required resources and skills necessary for a successful project and whether those resources are available or can be made available.

6. What is the purpose of a cost/benefit analysis?

A cost/benefit analysis calculates a single measure that indicates whether an investment in a new system will produce a positive return. It also forces an evaluation of the expected costs and benefits of the new system.

7. Explain the difference between a PERT chart and a Gantt chart.

A PERT chart illustrates individual activities showing graphically the dependency links between the activities. Its strength is in showing critical path and potential slack time of activities. Its format is a set of linked boxes.

A Gantt chart is a bar chart showing individual activities plotted against calendar time. Although dependency can be illustrated, its major strength is in viewing activities, including percent complete against the calendar.

8. List five or six possible sources of tangible benefits from the installation of a new system.

See page 58. Possible answers include: reduce staff, maintain constant staff with increased volume of work, reduce error rates, reduce other operating costs such as shipping, better management of inventory to reduce stock outs or over stocking, reduce bad accounts losses, increase efficiency with purchases from vendors, and so forth.

9. List four or five sources of development costs.

See page 56. Possible answers include: salaries, equipment, software licenses, consulting fees, training, facilities, travel, and so forth.

10. What is meant by the critical path?

The critical path consists of that set of activities that form a dependency path from start to end that indicates the minimum time in which the project can be completed. (Note: It is also the longest path through the project activities, i.e. the longest path giving the minimum completion time.) If any activity on the critical path slips schedule then the entire project will slip schedule.

11. What is the purpose of a system context diagram?

A system context diagram is used to define the scope of the proposed system. If defines the scope by providing a name for the system, by identifying the agents that will use the system and identifying the information that flows into and out of the system.

12. Describe the eight knowledge areas of project management.

The details for this question depend on Appendix A. Summaries are on page 44.

  • Project Scope Management—defining and controlling the functions that are to be included in the system as well as the scope of the work to be done by the project team.
  • Project Time Management—building a detailed schedule of all project tasks and then monitoring the progress of the project against defined milestones
  • Project Cost Management—calculation of the initial cost/benefit analysis and later updates and monitoring expenditures as the project progresses
  • Project Quality Management—establishing a total plan for ensuring quality, which includes quality control activities for every phase of the project
  • Project Human Resource Management—recruiting and hiring project team members; also training, motivation, team building, and related activities to ensure a happy, productive team
  • Project Communications Management—identifying all stakeholders and key communications to each; also establish all communications mechanisms and schedules
  • Project Risk Management—identifying and reviewing throughout the project all potential risks for failure and developing plans to reduce these risks
  • Project Procurement Management—developing requests for proposals, evaluating bids, writing contracts, and then monitoring vendor performance

13. Describe the seven activities of the design phase.

See page 37. Answers should include: Design and integrate the network, design the application architecture, design the user interface, design the system interface, design and integrate the database, prototype for design details, and design and integrate system controls.

14. Describe the activities of the implementation phase.

See page 38. Answers should include: Construct software, verify and test, develop prototypes for tuning, convert data, train and document, and install the system.

15. What are the activities in the planning phase that are specifically focused toward project management?

The primary focus of all activities in the planning phase are on planning the project, which by definition is project management. Summarizing:

* Define the problem: Identifying, defining, and scoping the project is the primary project management task in this activity. Some of the detailed fact finding tasks may be classified as non-project management.

* Produce the project schedule: Identifying project tasks, estimating the effort required, and identifying the sequence of tasks are all project management tasks.

* Confirm project feasibility: Calculating the cost/benefit, assessing project risks, and identifying plans to reduce risks are all project management tasks.

* Staff the project: Identifying the needed resources and getting them assigned to the project are responsibilities of the project manager.

* Launch the project: Presenting the project plan to senior management and obtaining final approval are done by the project manager.

Thinking Critically

1. Write a one-page paper that distinguishes among the fundamental purposes of the analysis phase, the design phase and the implementation phase.

Students should focus on the following issues:

For analysis, the primary focus is on discovery and understanding. The purpose is to understand at a detailed level the needs of the users. This can be based on existing systems and procedures or based purely on the desired business processes. The focus should not be on the solution system during analysis but on understanding the business need.

For design, the focus changes from understanding to thinking about a viable solution. The purpose of design is to synthesize or develop a solution. The two layers of design are (1) at the architecture layer and (2) at the detailed module layer. At the architecture layer, the purpose is to think of the entire solution system and how it is structured. At the detailed design level, the purpose is to think about the individual modules or classes and define the details of the executable code.

For implementation, the focus is on building a robust system. The activities of this phase are oriented towards taking the design and building a high quality working system. Also included in this phase are all of the support or ancillary activities to train users, convert data, and fine-tune the working environment.

2. Given the following narrative, make a list of expected business benefits.

Especially for You jewelers is a small jewelry company in a college town. Over the last couple of years Especially for You has experienced a tremendous increase in its business. However, its financial performance had not kept pace with its growth. The current system, which was partially manual and partially automated, did not track accounts receivables sufficiently, and Especially for You was having difficulty in determining why the receivables were so high. In addition, Especially for You ran frequent specials to attract customers. It had no idea if these specials were profitable or if the benefit, if there was one, came from associated sales. Especially for You also wanted to increase repeat sales to existing customers. Thus a customer database needed included. Especially for You wanted to install a new direct sales and accounting system to help solve these problems.

· Reduce the level of accounts receivables

· Determine which type of specials and promotions increased sales

· Increase repeat sales to existing customers

· Closely track financial performance of the store

3. Given the following narrative, make a list of system capabilities.

The new direct sales and accounting system for Especially for You jewelers was an important element in the future growth and success of the jewelry company. The direct sales portion of the system needs to keep track of every sale, and be able to hook into the inventory system for cost data to provide a daily profit and loss report. The customer database needed to be able to produce purchase histories to assist management in preparing special mailings and special sales to existing customer. Detail credit balances and aged accounts for each customer would help solve the problem with the high balance of accounts receivables. Special notice letters and credit history reports would help management reduce accounts receivables.

  • Track individual sales

· Report on cost data for inventory items

· Produce daily profit and loss reports

· Track purchase histories of individual customers

  • Produce special mailings

· Maintain accounts aging with reporting

4. Develop a project charter for Especially for You Jewelers based on your work from problems 3 and 4.

See page 47 for an example of a project charter.

Students should create a system document similar to Figure 2-5. The business benefits and system capabilities from problems 3 and 4 can also be included. A brief description of the problem should be taken from the case description. In addition, students can add sections on the cost and various client/users who have an interest in the new system.

5. Build a PERT/CPM chart based on the following list of tasks and precedences to build and test a screen form for a new system. Identify the critical path.

Task ID

Description

Duration

Precedence

0

Start

0

--

1

Meet with user

2

0

2

Review existing forms

1

0

3

Identify and specify fields

3

1, 2

4

Build Initial Prototype

2

3

5

Develop test data (valid data)

4

3

6

Develop error test data

2

5

7

Test prototype

3

4, 6

8

Make Final Refinements

3

7

6. Suppose that you work in a dentist’s office and you were asked to develop a system to keep track of patient appointments. How would you start? What would you do first? What kinds of things would you try to find out first? How does your approach compare with what we have described in the chapter?

Students should relate their answer back to things they learned with regard to the planning phase. Answers should include a discussion of defining and scoping the problem definition. For this type of a small system they may not want to do a complete financial analysis, however, an estimate of the development costs is appropriate. Other feasibility considerations such as organizational and cultural feasibility and schedule feasibility are reasonable issues to consider.

Experiential Exercises

1. Using Microsoft Project 2000 build a project schedule based on the following activities. Print out both the PERT chart and the Gantt chart.

Following is a list of tasks for a student to have an international experience by attending a university abroad. You can build schedules for several versions of this set of tasks. For the first iteration, assume that all precedence tasks must finish before the succeeding task can begin (simplest version). For a second iteration, identify several tasks that can begin a few days before the end of the predecessor task. For a third iteration, modify the second version so that some tasks can begin a few days after the beginning of a predecessor task. Also, insert a few overview tasks such as Application tasks, Preparation tasks, Travel and Arrival tasks. Be sure to state your assumptions for each iteration.

Task ID

Description of Task

Duration

Precedence

1.

Obtain Forms from international exchange office

1 day

none

2.

Fill out and send in foreign university application

3 days

1

3.

Receive approval from foreign university

21 days

2

4.

Apply for scholarship

3 days

2

5

Receive notice of approval for scholarship

30 days

4

6.

Arrange Financing

5 days

3, 5

7.

Arrange for housing in dormitory

25 days

6

8.

Obtain passport and required visa

35 days

6

9.

Send in pre-registration forms to university

2 days

8

10.

Make travel arrangements

1 day

7, 9

11.

Determine clothing requirements and go shopping

10 days

10

12.

Pack and make final arrangements to leave

3 days

11

13.

Travel

1 day

12

14.

Move into dormitory

1 day

13

15.

Finalize registration for classes and other university paperwork

2 days

14

16.

Begin classes

1 day

15

The solution for this PERT chart is done automatically by MS Project.

2. Build a project plan to show your progress through college. Include the course prerequisite information. If you have access to MS Project or another tool enter the information in the project management tool.

This solution will depend on the particular curriculum required by your university. The answer should be a set of activities represented by the various courses that the student has taken and plans to take. This will be a good example of using a project tool to plan a course of study. It should provide the opportunity for the students to broaden their concept of what a project is. A course of study through college fits the definition of a project given in the chapter.

3. Using information from your Organizational Behavior classes or other sources, write a one-page paper on what kinds of team building and training activities might be appropriate as the project team is expanded for the analysis phase.

This paper will be a good resource to help team members be conscious of the requirements necessary to build a strong team. Answers will vary widely, so grading should be on depth of coverage and strength of the ideas presented, rather than on the specific ideas presented in the paper.

4. Research and write a two-page paper on why system development projects fail.

Results will vary widely. Some suggested topics that you might provide include:

  • Project management
  • Classic mistakes
  • Risk analysis
  • Technical problems

· Interpersonal issues and team strength

  • Executive support
  • Project planning and scheduling

Another approach to recommendations may be to provide some specific categories such as problems with Processes (project processes), Product problems (quality control), Technical problems (bleeding edge or research type of projects), or Personnel problems (mediocre staff, sabotage, disagreements).

5. Ask a systems analyst about the SDLC that his or her company users. If possible ask him to show you a copy of the project schedule.

Answers will vary. Ask the students to talk about how the company ensures adequate project management; how it collects and documents user requirements and system specifications; how it does design and how it is documented; and what kind of programming and testing procedures it follows. Also discuss variations for prototyping, iteration, and the overlap of analysis and design.

6. Ask a project manager for his or her opinion on each of the eight project management knowledge areas.

Answers will vary. You can also ask if there are other areas that are not covered in the eight knowledge areas identified by PMI.

7. Go to the CompTIA (www.compTIA.com) Web site and find the requirements for the project manager exam (IT Project+). Write a one-page summary of the expertise and knowledge required to pass the exam.

Here is the CompTIA Project Management Blueprint page, which contains the details about the test and its objectives. The PDF file is 12 pages long and covers

Scope Definition (27%)

Project Initiation and Planning (39%)

Project Execution (29%)

Project Closure (5%)

http://www.comptia.com/certification/itprojectplus/itprojectplus_objectives.pdf

Case Study

Custom Load Trucking

1. Do you think the decision by CLT to build its own project managers from the existing employee base is a good one? What advice would you give to CLT to make sure that it has strong project management skills in the company?

Students will generally answer in the affirmative that it is a good idea to promote from within. However, they should also back up their answers with valid reasons. Such reasons might include:

· Company loyalty of new project managers

· Knowledge of internal procedures

  • Confidence of fellow employees

· Provide career paths for employees

· Familiarity with existing tools, languages, and environments

Advice to the company about strong project management should include the following topics:

· Good analysts do not necessarily make good managers

· The set of skills for technical work is not necessarily the same as for management

· Project Management training will be required

· Personnel Management training will be required

2. What kind of criteria would you develop for Monica to use to measure whether Stewart (and other potential project managers) is ready for project management responsibility?

Students should base their answers on the points provided in the chapter and in Appendix A. Prior to promoting an analyst to project manager, he/she should have some experience in each of the six categories identified in Appendix A. The company can identify some measure of relative performance in each category. Obviously a quantitative measure for management readiness is very difficult, but some measurement of experience, skill, and potential in each area can be qualitatively evaluated.

3. How would you structure the job for new project managers to ensure, or at least increase, a high-level of success?

Answers for this will vary considerably, and there are many correct answers. The issue is whether the students have thought through their answers or not. You should look to see if their answers really provide a structure or mechanism that will increase the probability of success.

4. If you were Monica, what kind of advice would you give to Stewart about managing his career and obtaining his immediate goal to become a project manager?

It appears that Gibbons and the company have been providing meaningful experience to Stockton in preparation for being a project manager. One important point is that project management involves much more than technical skills. A person desiring a project management career should identify those skills needed and seek opportunities to attain those skills through training, observing other good managers, and practice. A good mentor is also invaluable for a person’s career development.

Rethinking Rocky Mountain Outfitters

Answers will vary. The table below identifies some areas that should be considered.

Project risk

Type of risk

Probability of risk

Steps to alleviate risk

The budget may be inadequate for this size of project

Economic

Medium

Careful monitoring of costs and control of scope creep

Risk of cash flow problems since RMO is funding two projects

Economic

Medium

Line up secondary sources of funding

Funding is coming partially from internal sources. Risk that the market may turn down and cash flow may decrease.

Economic

Low

Line up secondary sources of funding

Key oversight committee have been identified. There is still some risk that they do not understand the level of commitment required.

Organizational

Low

Provide careful project reporting and updates. Highlight anticipated problems.

Risk whether William McDougal (as project sponsor) is thoroughly committed.

Organizational

Low

Frequent meetings between project manager and Mr. McDougal

Since other users have not been defined yet, there is risk that the correct users will be assigned and that adequate time will be allowed.

Organizational

Medium

Include in project schedule estimates of time requirements for users to provide requirements, reviews, and testing.

This is new technology for RMO. Risk of not being able to solve the communication complexities

Technological

High

Identify additional consulting expertise that may be available.

Moving into new markets may cause explosive growth. Risk of system/ organization not being able to handle the volume

Technological/ Organizational

High

Develop plans for either controlling growth, or staffing and training for high growth.

Since the project is just starting, there is a high risk that the schedule is unworkable

Schedule

Medium

Rework schedule periodically integrating new understanding of needs.

RMO has a long range strategic plan for systems. This could cause risk that too much is needed now, and the current project could easily suffer from scope creep.

Schedule

High

Document requirements carefully. Establish a Change Committee that must approve all scope changes.

Since CSS depends on the SCM schedule, there is a risk that delays in SCM will delay CSS

Schedule

High

Monitor the SCM project carefully. Identify alternative ways to move ahead with CSS even if SCM gets behind.

Only two members of the team are currently assigned. Risk of not being able to get other team members on time.

Resource/Schedule

High

Begin early identifying other potential team members. Identify outside consultants that could help if necessary.

The staff of RMO is somewhat limited in size and experience. Risk of not having the skills necessary for developing this magnitude of a system.

Resource/Technological

Identify outside consultants that could provide additional expertise.

Solutions to End of Chapter 3 Material

Review Questions

1. What is the difference between a model and a tool?

A model is a representation of some important aspect of the real world. A tool provides

software support that helps create models or other components required in the project.

2. What is the difference between a technique and a methodology?

A methodology provides comprehensive guidelines to follow for completing every activity in the system development life cycle, including specific models, tools, techniques. A technique is a collection of guidelines that help the analyst complete a system development activity or task

3. Which of the two approaches to system development was the earliest?

The structured approach, beginning with structured programming in the 60s, structured design in the 70s, and structured analysis in the late 70s and early 80s.

4. Which of the two approaches to system development is the most recent?

The object-oriented approach to information systems is the most recent approach, although OO programming languages go back to the 60s and 70s.

5. Which of the traditional approaches focuses on overall strategic systems planning?

Information engineering begins with a strategic systems planning activity to define the systems that need to be developed.

6. Which of the traditional approaches is a more complete methodology?

Information engineering includes guidelines for all phases, including planning, analysis, design, and implementation.

7. What are the three "constructs" used in structured programming?

Sequence of instructions, selection or decision of one direction or the other, and iteration or repetition of instructions.

8. What graphical model is used with the structured design technique?

The structure chart showing modules organized hierarchically with “calls” from modules at the top to modules below.

9. What graphical model is used with the modern structured analysis technique?

The data flow diagram (DFD).

10. What model is the central focus of the information engineering approach?

The data model, specifically the entity relationship diagram (ERD). Note that the ERD is also used in the structured analysis technique along with the DFD.

11. Explain what is meant by a "waterfall" life cycle model.

When a phase in the lifecycle is completed, the results fall down to the next phase and there is no going back.

12. What concept suggests repeating activities over and over until you get it right?

Iteration or iterative development.

13. What concept suggests completing part of the system and putting it into operation before continuing with the rest of the system?

Incremental development.

14. What is user-centered and/or participatory design?

Approaches to lifecycles or methodologies that emphasize people and view information systems as sociotechnical systems. Users are much more involved in the development process.

15. What is meant by rapid application development (RAD)?

RAD refers to a collection of techniques that can be used to speed up the development process. Prototyping and joint application development meetings are examples of RAD techniques.

16. What are some features of the spiral model approach to development?

The spiral model uses a spiral to depict the iterations followed during development. Each iteration is defined based on risk affecting the project. It involves extensive prototyping.

17. What are some features of extreme programming (XP)?

XP is a lightweight methodology (simple and focused on helping the developer) that involves iterations, multiple releases, user stories to define requirements, and programmer teams working together on all code.

18. What are some features of the Rational unified process (RUP)?

RUP is a development methodology proposed by Booch, Rumbaugh, and Jacobson of Rational Software (who originated UML). The term development process means development methodology. Although UML is a standard modeling notation for OO, RUP is not a standard, but it becoming influential. It has four lifecycle phases, assumes the use of UML models, and is based on accepted best practices of system development.

19. What are CASE tools? Why are they used?

CASE refers to computer-aided system engineering tools, software tools that support the work of the system developer creating models and other system documents and components. They are used because system developers, like any other profession, can benefit from computer support of their work. Since system developers create models, much of the CASE tools support is for creating models and storing system information in a repository.

20. What are some newer terms used to describe CASE tools?

Visual modeling tools, integrated system development environments, round trip engineering tools.

Thinking Critically

1. List some of the models architects create to show different aspects of a house they are designing. Explain why several models are needed.

Blue prints showing: floor plan, front and rear elevation, roof framing plan, plumbing layout, electrical layout, foundation, and placement of house on lot. There can be other models: a scale 3D model of what the house looks like, mathematical calculations defining stresses and forces affecting the roof or walls. Each model “abstracts” or highlights certain aspects of the house. No one model can contain everything needed. All models must fit together to define a house.

2. What models might an automotive designer use to show different aspects of a car?

Again, graphical models showing what the car looks likes from different views. Plus, lots of calculations and specifications for different car components. Some look like the car and some are schematic diagrams or tables of specifications.

3. Sketch the layout of your room at home. Now write a description of the layout of your room. Are these both models of your room? Which is more accurate? More detailed? Easier to follow for someone unfamiliar with your room?

Answers will vary. Yes both are models. They might be equally accurate and detailed, or one could be more accurate and/or detailed than the other. The sketch would be easier to follow for people, hence the use of graphical models in systems development, too.

4. Describe a "technique" you use to help you complete the activity "get to class on time." What are some “tools” you use with the technique?

A technique is a strategy for completing an activity. So a strategy for getting to class on time might include suggestions like set the alarm, get to bed early, check the class schedule each night, check the bus schedule over breakfast, etc. The tools would be the alarm, the class schedule, and the bus schedule.

5. Describe a "technique" you use to make sure you "get assignments done on time." What are some “tools” you use with the technique?

The technique might include read assignments right away, get started early, make sure you have the materials needed ahead of time, check with instructor as soon as you have a question about the assignment, use the appropriate computer tools to complete the assignment, make a back up copy of your work as you go, and follow a get to class on time technique the day the assignment is due. Tools might include the assignment, a calendar, email, phone, computer tools used to create the assignment (word processor, spreadsheet), on line access to order materials needed, and all of the “tools” used to complete the get to class on time activity.

6. What are some other techniques you use to help you complete activities in your life?

Career selection techniques, job search techniques, spouse selection techniques, house buying techniques, job survival techniques, health maintenance techniques, retirement planning techniques, and grief coping techniques

7. There are at least two approaches to system development, a variety of life cycles, and a long list of techniques and models that are used in some approaches but not in others. Consider why this is so. Discuss these possible reasons: the field is so young, the technology changes so fast, different organizations have such different needs, there are so many different types of systems, and there are people developing systems with great differences in background.

All of the listed reasons are valid in some ways. No one approach or technique is appropriate for all system projects. We need to be able to select the approach and the techniques that are right for the problem at hand.

Experiential Exercises

1. Go to the campus placement office and gather some information on companies that recruit information systems graduates on your campus. Can you find any information about the approach they use to develop systems? Is their SDLC described? Is there any mention of a CASE tool? Visit the company Web sites and see if you can find any more information.

Larger companies might post information on methodologies used as part of the recruiting information. Otherwise, companies sometimes tend to keep this information confidential. Students might suggest to recruiters that this information be provided to help students understand the way development is done at the company.

2. Visit the Web sites for a few leading information system consulting firms. Can you find any information about the approach they use to develop systems? Is their SDLC described? Is there any mention of a CASE tool?

If it is a consulting firm, they might publish a lot about their methodology (or even sell their methodology to clients). Some will brag about the state of the art approach used. Some will be vague about it.

Case Studies

A “College Education Completion” Methodology

Think of completing college as a project, and like any other project, you should follow some sort of "college education completion" methodology. What might be the phases of your personal college education completion life cycle? What are some of the activities of each phase? What are some techniques you use to help complete the activities? What models might you create during the process of completing college? Differentiate between models you create that get you through college compared to those that help you plan and control the process of completing college. What are some of the tools you use to help you complete the models?

Answers will vary. One approach is to think of it as planning for going to college, analyzing the requirement for what you want out of college, designing a specific program of study, and implementing the schedule and completing the classes for the program of study until college is complete. Another approach is to make up more specific phases: getting in, moving away from home, meeting new friends, deciding on a major, establishing a social life, completing courses, planning for the job hunt, job hunting, final graduation activities (social and academic), and moving on after graduation. Remember:

· Technique: a strategy or guidelines for getting an activity or task completed

· Model: something created as an outcome of a task or an activity

· Tool: something that is used by the technique to create the model

Factory System Development Project

The case describes a factory automation project assigned to Sally Jones

1. Is this an accounting system? A factory operations system? Or both?

Systems today are very integrated – it is difficult to define where one system ends and the other one begins. The factory operations system draws on inventory accounting data when items are manufactured, and then it creates updates to the finished goods inventory accounting data. One system cannot work without the other. An analyst increasingly needs to be aware of the overall business processes of the company. Additionally, an analyst needs to be aware of the overall strategic plan to see how the systems fit together.

2. Which life cycle variations might be appropriate for Sally to consider using?

Sally should use some form of extensive user participation to get as much input from users in the factory as possible. She doesn’t know much about the factory, so she needs to rely on the experts. Prototyping, extensive user interviews, questionnaires, factory worker membership on the development team, and lots of user testing are strategies to use.

3. Which activities of analysis and of design should involve factory workers as well as factory management

Just about all analysis activities plus prototyping, designing the user interface, and designing and integrating controls from the design phase are particularly important.

Rethinking Rocky Mountain Outfitters

Barbara has lots of choices for managing her project in terms of methodology, tools and techniques.

1. What if Barbara decides to use the OO approach for the CSS project? How extensive would the required training be?

Training must include an overall orientation to what the OO approach is all about, especially for developers who are steeped in the traditional approach. Models created such as class diagram, sequence diagram, statechart diagram, ands package diagram must be mastered. Then OO programming must be mastered, but there is much more to it than just the language. A fundamental decision about using the OO approach should be made very early.

2. Does a Web development project require using the OO approach?

Web development does not require using the OO approach overall. Some OO tools and models might help define and construct some aspects of the system, but the system can still be traditional in that it is constructed of procedural programs and separate data. In reality, many systems today are a blend of traditional and OO technology. Perhaps the user interface is created using OO tools and techniques, but the business logic and database are more traditional. Some projects are implemented using a pure OO approach, and that is required if the team wants to obtain the benefits of OO in the long run.

3. What lifecycle variations are being considered since she wants to involve users throughout the project? What else might she do to speed development? What might she use from the spiral model? Extreme programming? Rational unified process?

Involving users requires a socio technical approach, sometimes called user-centered design. Techniques to help involve users are prototyping, joint applications development (JAD) meetings, focus groups, extensive interviews, adding users explicitly to the development team, and so on.

Development can be faster using incremental development, JAD, and prototyping, also. Ideas from the spiral model can be focusing on risk (as all project management techniques suggest). XP ideas to use could include programming in pairs. RUP ideas to use might be useful if she is interested in using an OO approach, but it also includes some good project management ideas useful for any system project. In other words, a good project manager draws from a variety of approaches and techniques to put together a plan for completing the project..

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