Introduction to Computer Information Systems/Information Systems
What is an Information System?
A system is a group of procedures and different elements that work together in order to complete a task. Now we can add on to this to get information systems. Information systems are much the same. There are elements and procedures to work to complete a task. The difference is information systems are used to generate information for the users on a need basis. Information systems manage and process data as soon as they're created. They can also be used for long term planning or just the day to day work. While systems are great and can ease your life, they are static, which means someone will need to change the systems when new needs arise. This is called system development. While it could be costly, there really is a need for system development since things change constantly, such as any time there are new laws or a new policy within the company.
Some information systems are meant to be used by all levels of employees while others are specifically designed to handle the needs of employees with certain responsibilities. As one goes higher up the company ladder, it can be seen how responsibilities may increase relative to position. It is for this reason that some information systems are designed to hone in on the needs of certain level employees. At the ground level, employees generally make job-related decisions that are based on "on-the-job" input without having to consider how those decisions will affect other departments or employees in other positions. These usually involve transaction systems such as point-of-sales or warehouse systems that record stock and inventory. Operational managers such as supervisors or foremen use separate information systems designed to meet short term goals and gains. They might use systems that show the productivity of employees or the cost-effectiveness of certain changes they've made in production. Middle managers are a step up from this and use information systems that house a broader range of information to make more tactical decisions. These decisions are usually aimed at a farther sighted goal than those of Operational managers and often need more intelligence pulled from data systems in order to reach these objectives. Middle managers might be more concerned with how to improve yearly gains and may use systems that will deliver more detailed information about specific locations of factories or retailers in certain states. Executive managers think in terms of the future and the direction of a company related to their peer corporations. They make very strategic decisions to ensure the survival of the entire company as a whole in relation to the economy and competition. The systems they use might include the stock market, which tracks the progress of a lot of businesses. Because the needs of each position increases, the decision support systems needed to make well judged verdicts must increase as well.
Types of Information Systems
The Four Essential Information Systems
There are many different types of information systems. Even though there are many systems, the four that will be elaborated are the following: transaction processing systems, customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and knowledge management systems. Transaction processing systems are used for processing and output functions for the core operations of a business, storage, and data collection. The purpose of this system is to collect input and then produce the output. An online air ticket booking system is an example of a TPS. Customer relationship management systems are usually used by business owners for sales and marketing efforts. This system helps businesses keep record of customer activities, purchasing trends, product defects, and customer inquiries. CRM systems also allow business partners to communicate with each other which contributes to a successful business. Business intelligence systems are essential for businesses to predict sale patterns for their company. BIS are essential in collecting data from different companies. Financial Institutions are an example of this type of system; it is used to create credit risk models that study the number and amount of lending given to the sectors. Knowledge management systems organize the knowledge within an organization and then share it. KMS brings innovation, top quality performance, integration, and knowledge to an organization. Small and large enterprises can benefit from this type of system. Business owners view this system as a valuable attribute to their company because it provides quick responses to their customers and partner questions.
Office and User Productivity Support Systems
There are systems implemented in many institutions (ex. Universities, hospitals, corporations) that help users in everyday tasks including the creation of documents and other content through applications as well as communication. These systems are one of the oldest and most simple types of systems that have been created when institutions started going towards paperless solutions. Document Processing Systems are support systems that allow users to create documents with the use of software and/or hardware. Often these systems include software applications such as Microsoft Office or Apple iWork and hardware such as scanners. Document Management Systems are systems that both store and organize the documents. The goal of these types of systems is to make documents easier to find by placing them in one centralized repository. A Content Management System is essentially the same as a Document Management System except that it also manages multimedia documents such as pictures or videos. Although they may seem simple because we use them everyday, Document Processing and Document/Content Management Systems can be very complicated when taken to a larger scale because it includes not only the organization and creation of a database, but also ensuring the security of the documents within the system. Another common type of Office and User Productivity Support Systems include communication systems. These can be any sort of software that allows users within an institution to communicate. Common communication software includes email, videoconferences, and messaging. Unified communication such as these not only support sharing pertinent information quickly but also better collaboration, remote work capabilities, centralized communication and assistance with navigating tasks.
Transaction Processing Systems
Any computer application that helps process business transactions is called a transaction processing system (TPS). Order entry systems, payroll systems, and accounting systems are three main types of TPSs. Order entry systems simply record order data. For example, when purchasing an item from Wal-Mart’s website, your order is recorded by an automated order entry system. The type of order entry system Walmart's website uses is an e-commerce system due to the fact the order was made over the internet. There are also order entry systems that work with physical transactions, called point-of-sale systems. For instance, if someone were to purchase a product at Wal-Mart (not online), the order would be processed at a register using a point-of-sale system. A payroll system is another type of a TPS that is used by almost every employer. Payroll systems basically organize, compute, and issue paychecks. These systems automatically take out the correct amount of taxes and other deductions from an employee’s pay. Accounting systems are a type of TPS that records financial transactions. Three types of widely used accounting systems are accounts payable systems, accounts receivable systems, and general ledger systems. Accounts payable systems keep track of how much a seller owes a buyer, while accounts receivable systems keep track of how much a buyer owes a consumer. General ledger systems are systems capable of putting together account data to form financial reports.
An enterprise system is an integrated information system that is made to support business processes, information flows, reporting, and data analytics in complex organizations. Its main function is to coordinate all of the major processes of an organization and integrate those processes into the different departments of the organization. Some of these application processes may include sales and distribution, financial accounting, investment management, materials management, production planning, maintenance, and human resources. Because it is integrates, it allows data to be used for several purposes. There is a central database that collects all the data from all of the applications, and then in return it feeds out the data as output to all of the processes of the organization. So, once data is given by one processes, then all the processes have access to that data. An example would be a university or college that uses an enterprise system to manage all student records, enrollment applications and acceptance, finances, human resources, etc. Many companies are starting to implement enterprise systems because it is an easy way to combine the core functions of the company with technological advancements. It is an easy way because the enterprise system is a single software architecture that fuses all the core processes of a business to function as one unit. The synchronized functioning of the processes makes it easier and more efficient to for multiple departments to work together and it is also helpful for managers as they can better oversee multiple tasks and project at one time.
Enterprise systems were created to eliminate the problem of the shattering of important information in large businesses. Most companies have so much information stored in so many different areas that when information needs to be retrieved, it becomes a hassle. If a company’s information is shattered and cannot be retrieved when needed if retrieved at all, it will eventually reflect into their sales. An enterprise system is a single database which gets information from all of a company’s activities. Whenever someone changes information in any area, the system will then update it throughout and make the information up to date. The amount of productivity and speed can really increase when a company begins using this system. This also gives them the ability to be organized and function on a larger level. Inside of an enterprise system there are modules. Some modules are used universally by all companies and other (such as human resources) are specific to each company. Configuration tables are also part of what makes an enterprise system. These are how a company can make their system unique to their business. They can change certain parts of the system such as not only having an inventory, but instead having inventory accounting. Enterprise systems help with logic and organization in companies and provide a better “flow” in how things are run.
"Data mining" sounds like a kind of unnerving term or a violation of privacy, but it isn't really. It just refers to any "process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information"—in other words, taking a lot of data about anything, including public information, and analyzing it with software to a useful end that can't easily be reached by a human alone. It's using computers to sift through a large amount of data that a human being can't analyze. For example, supermarkets regularly have computers analyze massive amounts of data on which items are more or less frequently purchased in which locations so that they can stock stores with items that will be purchased by more individuals in that store's location. They also might change the prices of items slightly on certain days when those items are more commonly purchased, and they stock items close to one another that are often purchased together. There are many other uses of data mining besides just these (which are examples that have actually occurred, not just hypothetical ones), but in general, data mining is most frequently used via corporations to cut costs or increase revenues.
Data Mining Techniques
Because prediction is the main goal, predictive data mining is the most common type of data mining, with popular and practical business application. The process consists of three stages: (1) Exploration, (2) Model Building and Validation/Verification, and (3) Deployment
Stage 1: Exploration. Begins with data preparation which may involve the cleaning and transformation of data, selecting subsets of records, or performing preliminary feature selection operations (to bring the number of variables or fields to a manageable range). It also may involve simple, straightforward predictors for a regression model, in order to identify the most relevant factors and determine the complexity, and/or a general nature of models.
Stage 2: Model building and validation. Involves considering various models and choosing the best one based on their predictive performance (offering stable results across samples). Many techniques (Bagging, Boosting, Stacking, and Meta-Learning) developed to achieve this are based on so-called "competitive evaluation of models," which uses different models on the same data, analyzing their performance, and choosing the best.
Stage 3: Deployment. Using the model selected as best in the previous stage and applying it to new data in order to generate predictions or estimates of the expected outcome.
Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing
Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) are computer systems that are used to design and manufacture products. CAD is used to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. It is used to increase the productivity, improve the quality, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing. It is used in many applications such as automotive, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries, industrial and architectural design, prosthetics, and many more. Also, CAD is used to produce computer animation for special effects in movies, advertising and technical manuals. CAM is used to control machine tools and related machinery in the manufacturing of work pieces.CAM can also assist in all operations of a manufacturing plant, including planning, management, transportation and storage. The primary purpose of CAM is to create a faster production process and components. Compared to manual machines, there are several advantages to using CAM such as speed (CAM is faster because machining speeds are higher), greater accuracy, greater consistency (every finished product is the same), efficiency (production can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and sophistication (CAM is able to machine difficult shapes, eg tracks on a circuit boards). After the model is generated in CAD, it can be input into CAM software which then controls the machine tool.
Decision Support Systems
A specific type of support system often used by businesses is known as a decision support system. Decision support systems were originally being researched as early as the 1960’s, but began interacting with users in the middle and late 1980’s. A decision support system enables a user to make decisions on demand, and interactively. These systems use both internal and external data to provide a user the tools to organize the decision-making information. The concept of decision-making is to primarily allow the user needed information to make particular decisions. The system is not necessarily making the decision for a user; it is simply retrieving relevant information that will assist them in their decision. With that being said, DSS systems are primarily used to uncover unstructured information regarding issues middle and executive managers may face. Once the data is retrieved from either internal or external sources, the system allows human-friendly access to retrieve the data. Examples of prospective data gathered would be: inventories of information, comparative sales figures, and projective revenue. This system is indeed relatively simple to use through its interaction with the user of the system. DSS systems also allow great flexibility for the program, appealing to various ranges of information. The system can also adapt to the user’s environment as well.
You may not realize it, but whenever you fly on an airline, a massive amount of data has to go through a series of programs and locations and be approved before your flight can occur. These decisions are made at an airline’s dispatch center. At a center, flight data information such as weather, weight, passenger information, and gate availability are all put together and interpreted to make a safe flight. United Airlines is a good example of this. They consolidated their dispatching center to one location, the 27th floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago. Their facility takes up an entire floor of the building and brings everything for a flight together. A standard computer program is used to interpret all the data needed for a flight. After the dispatcher prepares a flight, the information can be transmitted directly to and airplane flight deck, or a United airport facility. The flight can then go as planned. At the same time, as dispatcher can decide to cancel a flight if the information calls for it, of if there is some kind of crisis to deal with. Because of special programs and new technology, your flight can be completed safety, and without long delays.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are systems that allow computers to perform actions that are characteristic of human intelligence. These can include systems such as expert systems, which provide the user with the kind of advice one would expect to receive from a human expert. This can help businesses and individuals make important decisions and predictions that will increase performance and further enchantments. There are also neural networks, which are systems in which the human brain recognition process is mimicked by a computer. This can be used in processes such as medical reading or biometric identification. Another advancing technology is robotics, or the study of robots. A robot is a device that can respond to sensory input, and is controlled and programmed by human intelligence. With constant advancement in technology pertaining to artificial intelligence, one would be well advised to seek out the possible effects of these “life like” computers. Ray Kurzwell, author, inventor and futurist, proposes the idea that artificial intelligence, genetics, nanotechnology and robotics will soon result in a human-machine civilization. He believes that in the not so near future, due to advancements in genetics that will allow for scientists to reprogram genes to eliminate disease and curb the aging process, man and machine will merge, “allowing one to transcend biological mortality.” Mr. Kurzwell may be a bit ahead of his time with his ideas and theories, but at the rate technology progresses in this age, it is hard to predict the heights it will reach.
Some predictions have been made for 2017 in the field of artificial intelligence. Two of these predictions are reinforcement learning and generative adversarial networks. Reinforcement learning is a process in which a computer works to answer a question or solve a problem and then associates the positive outcome of solving the problem with the actions it took to solve it. In this way, the computer learns without explicit instructions or examples. Reinforcement learning is expected to be useful in real-world situations such as automated driving and industrial robotics. Generative adversarial networks are systems consisting of one network that generates new data after learning from a training set, and another network that tries to discriminate between real and fake data producing realistic synthetic data. Real-world uses for this could be to make video game scenery, to de-blur pixelated video footage, or to apply stylistic changes to computer-generated designs.
IBM Watson and Cognitive Computing
IBM Watson, developed by a research team led by David Ferrucci, is a question answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language.  IBM Watson was given its name after Thomas J. Watson, IBM's first CEO. IBM Watson combines artificial intelligence and sophisticated analytical software in order to perform its question answering capabilities.  In order to understand how IBM Watson functions or what its capabilities truly are, one must first understand the concept of cognitive computing. Cognitive computing, with still no official definition, refers to hardware/software that mimics the functioning of the human brain and helps to improve human decision-making. Some features that cognitive computers display are adaptability, interactiveness, contextualism, and iteration.  In order to display IBM Watson's abilities, in 2011 Watson challenged and beat the top-two ranked Jeopardy! contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The Watson system was placed between the two contestants and, just like the other two competitors, had no internet access.  IBM Watson uses IBM's DeepQA software and the Apache Unstructured Information Management Architecture framework and runs on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system.  As a result of the components that make up IBM Watson, the applications for its use are nearly endless. Currently IBM Watson's focus areas are commerce, education, financial services, health, internet of things, marketing, supply chain, and human resources.  There are currently four IBM Watson products that are available for public purchase including Watson Discovery, Watson Conversation, Watson Virtual Agent, and Watson Knowledge Studio. 
The Information Systems Department
The information systems department is also referred to as the information technology department. It is responsible for running, maintaining, and developing the computers and information systems in an organization. They also ensure the programs run smoothly. It includes all the computer and network personnel of that organization. The IT person that is most involved in system development is the system analyst. The system analyst manages the things related to designing and implementing modified systems. This person should be the first level support in the case of system-related issues. A person who is very important to system development is the business analyst. It is one of the biggest growing jobs because of the large increase in the use of technology. It is all about finding the most effective use of electronic communication.
Systems Development Jobs
Some other IT jobs are business analysts, application programmers, operations personnel, and security specialists. A business analyst will analyze the organization and its documents in order to assess and process that information. They help understand the policies and actions that a business has and then helps to achieve their business goals. Business analysts make a strategic plan, look at the business model analysis, process design the organization's work, and then interpret for technical systems. An application programmer will take the technical and functional parts of a business and review the tech system. They look for ways to increase efficiency, manage things better, and enhance the work system to perform at its best. An application manager will usually create new applications that combine programs together for efficiency. Operations personnel look at things more from a day to day basis and look at ways to improve upon things. This job is useful because they get to see the progression of things in the business from one day to the next. Security specialists will create a secure system to protect the company’s data and information. They will make sure that not everyone will have access to everything in the company’s database. Additionally, they monitor and respond to security incidents.
Becoming a Systems Developer
In order to be a systems developer one must have basic coding skills. One must know at least one programming language. One must know how to fix problems on the fly if ever a system failure occurs. One must learn to keep maintenance of such systems so that the chances of system failure is minimized. The field itself is highly technical in nature involving plenty of computer science and mathematics in an environment which is always and rapidly evolving with technology. One must also learn how to work in a group for in an organization you will most likely have a defined role in a group of programmers and system developers. So not only must you have the technical skills but also the soft skills such as communication and teamwork. Possibly even leadership if you were to take in a position wherein you are the leader of the group. You can also work as an adviser to those who are using the systems in business settings. The most important role of the systems developer is to be the support system in the organization in order for everything to be able to run as smoothly as possible.
In the industry today, many businesses have been outsourcing their work. Outsourcing occurs when businesses hire others outside of their company to perform different tasks, like creating new software or databases for the company. Some examples of outsourcing today include customer service, technical support, payroll accounting, and credit card processing. This is becoming more prevalent through the years because outsourcing has many advantages to the business itself. Offshore outsourcing is another term used, but the work is done in another country. India, for example, is one country that generates much revenue from offshore outsourcing alone. Although many speculate that American jobs are at risk, outsourcing to other countries benefits the business as a whole. The company saves a lot more money than if they were to keep technical support, customer service, etc. in the primary country of that company. Another advantage of having offshore outsourcing is that there can always be someone working on a project, gathering information, and helping a client because of the different time zones. A lengthy project can be completed faster than would a normal project worked on in just the United States because 24 hours a day, somebody is always working on the project. One downfall of outsourcing is cultural differences. Language barriers can be detrimental to a company at times. Homesourcing is a new trend that many companies are taking advantage of and adopting. This is the transfer of service industry employment from offices to home-based employees with appropriate telephone and Internet facilities. Another aspect that companies have to look into is security with newly outsourced employees when they are first hired.
SDLC - System Development Life Cycle
The System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is composed of six steps. These steps are as follows: preliminary investigation, system analysis, system design, system acquisition, system implementation, and system maintenance. Each step is important and builds up on the step(s) that happened previously. While these are generally the steps always used, they do not always occur in the same order. The effects are still the same. Below is an explanation of each of the six steps.
Step 1: Preliminary Investigation
As the first step in the SDLC, preliminary investigation plays a large role in determining whether or not a system or system modification would be worth making. The main point of doing a preliminary investigation is to determine what problems need to be fixed and what is the best way to go about solving those problems, if solutions do in fact exist. An initial support group should also be identified. A feasibility report is the product of the preliminary investigation in most cases. The feasibility report is essentially a compatibility test between the current business/system and the new system/modifications. The report will tell companies if they can afford the change, if it will work with the other systems and technology already in their company, and if it will be beneficial to the company to make the changes. If all these things come back positively from the systems analyst, then the system will receive the "all clear" to head to the next step of the SDLC.
Step 2: System Analysis
This second step, system analysis, is used to investigate the problem on a larger scale and fine tune all the information a company has on the issue. Data collection and analysis are the two main points of interest inside system analysis. Gathering information about the current system and users allows analysts to develop an idea of what seems to be the real problem and how they should go about fixing it through data analysis. The main outcome from this step is a grouping of organized data about the current system and the new/modified systems improvements to come.
To illustrate systems that are based on the concept of objects, tools like use case diagrams and class diagrams are used. Use case diagrams are used to describe the behavior of the target system from an external point of view, while also illustrating the users who interact with the system. On the other hand, class diagrams provide an overview of the target system by describing the objects and classes, and their relationships, inside the system.
As mentioned above, system analysis is the phase of system development where the problem area is fully studied in depth and the needs of system users are assessed. The tools that will help accomplish this phase of collecting data and data analysis are entity-relationship diagrams (ERDs), data flow diagrams (DFDs), decision tables and decision trees, business process modeling notation (BPMN), and class diagrams and use case diagrams. To describe the use of these tools in depth you will need to understand that any tools or processes used during this phase will aid in understanding the problems or issues of the current systems and how to improve them. So you will see several visual aids, charts, tables, diagrams, models, etc. All this is to help clarify and make sense to all personnel involved how the current system may be improved. Essentially, the new system requirements are defined and; in particular, the deficiencies in the existing system must be addressed with specific proposals for improvement. Entity-relationship diagrams and data flow diagrams are used to model the entities in a system and the flow of data between the entities. So, these kinds of diagrams will create a visual for the logical interaction between the individual entities that use the system. Business process modeling notation is a graphical, standardized notation used to model a business process. This type of modeling is similar to a flowchart and is meant to be understood by all users of the system.
Step 3: System Design
After all of the data has been analyzed, it is time to design a blueprint for the system that specifies what it will look like and how it will work. First you have to develop the design by using a few key tools. One important tool is the creation of a data dictionary, which describes the characteristics of all data that is used in a system. Other important creations that the systems analyst will use include different diagrams which help to better describe the proposed system. It has been argued by some that the ever-increasing rate of developing technology has made it impossible for the every day systems analyst to do their job thoroughly. The economics of industry are pushing in a way that doesn't favor design, only production. Whether this is truly the case, system design leaves little room for error, as time is money.
In addition to a data dictionary, the systems analyst also has to create input designs to help illustrate the input screens and other user interfaces that will be used to input data into the new system. To ensure that the data is input accurately and secured against data loss, it is essential for the system design to contain some form of a security feature. Also, an output design helps identify the specific outputs required to meet the information requirements, select methods required for presenting that information, and design reports, or other documents that carry the information. Lastly, once the new system has finally been designed, a cost-benefit analysis is performed to determine whether the expected benefits (tangible or intangible benefits) of the new system are worth the expected cost. This analysis will then help determine if the design for the new system is worth implementing. 
Step 4: System Acquisition
Once the design blueprint has been approved, it's off to the proverbial grocery store. The organization needing a system will have a set budget and a list of components needed to make their system work properly. With this budget comes a few courses of action. The first thing to think about is whether the company should create their own software for their system or buy the software from others. It is typically cheaper and less time consuming to buy preexisting software but the customization options are limited. If the preexisting software doesn't offer the options required of the system blueprint, then the company will likely have to make custom software to meet their needs.
Assuming that it okay for the company to buy preexisting software, the next step is to choose where to buy from. To help them choose, they can prepare an RFP, or request for proposal, which asks vendors what software the company might need to consider buying. If they already know what software they need and just want potential prices, the company can file an RFQ, or request for quotation. After filing for the RFQ, the company must evaluate all of the bids from the vendors offering different software. The company, in order to make the most profit, should evaluate each bid and figure out which one has charged the lowest price while also reaching the necessary criteria for the company’s system. The Purchasing Department of a company usually decides which vendor deserves to receive the quote. The decision is usually helped by the use of a benchmark test. A benchmark test is a systematic process that evaluates both the hardware and software of a system. Some determinants used for the test include examining for the amount of workload that a system is capable of processing, the capability of solving complex scientific problems using a range of computations, offering legitimate data for the system to process and viewing the performance and scalability of the software, and many more. These benchmark tests can be offered through third-party organizations where there sole purpose is to test the offered systems. These tests allow for the company to immediately discard incapable systems offered by vendors. Sometimes benchmarks are not capable of being performed due to a company’s location or accessibility, but for the most part they are a great way to assist in evaluating which bid is the best. After all of the required software has been purchased it is time for the next step.
Step 5: Implementation
The implementation phase of the System Development Life Cycle is an important one. In this phase, the new system is installed and made functional in the production environment, after thorough testing. End user testing is imperative to assure a smooth transition. Any required documentation, including instructions and manuals should be developed during the process. Training, for both the system administrators and end users, should also occur during this phase. During some implementations, it is convenient, and sometimes even necessary to run the old system and the new system in parallel. Once implementation is complete and all users are fully operating in the new system, the old system can be removed completely. One of the advantages of a parallel adoption relates to risk. Should the new system fail for any reason, the old system is still in place. Productivity can continue with limited effort in restoration of the old system. There are certain situations where parallel implementation is ill-advised. A significant negative consequences of parallel implementation relates to efficiency. In order for both systems to function effectively, data must be entered into both systems to keep them current. This requires duplication of work and redundancy in effort to maintain consistency.
In this step, users get the old data ready to be moved, called data migration. Once that is complete, they can begin installing new hardware and software. There are four ways of converting data to new a system: direct conversion- the old system is deactivated and the new one is implemented right away; parallel conversion- both systems are operated at the same time until it is known that the new one is working, then the old one gets deactivated; pilot conversion- only one new system is installed within an organization and once it is known that it works then the rest are implemented; and phased conversion- the new system is implemented by modules by using direct or parallel conversion. There are some advantages and disadvantages of using each method. For example, the easiest and fastest method is direct conversion.  The final action in this step is training the users with manuals, for example.
Step 6: System Maintenance
Often the system maintenance is the ongoing process throughout the life of the system. Maintenance can include updating software or updating what is already installed. Many of you play an active role in this step already. For example, how many of you keep up with the newest updates for your Apple applications? You are taking part in system maintenance.
Once a software has been fully implemented, it goes through a post-implementation review to evaluate how the new system is running and whether or not it is completing its intended tasks. System maintenance includes modifying existing software or adding completely new features to the existing software, as well as fixing any glitches or bugs and checking security. System updates are usually scheduled for off-peak hours, such as late at night to keep the system running smoothly for users. Updates can be manually downloaded by the user or automatically downloaded through the server. Automatic updates ensure that the user is constantly using the most up-to-date version of the software. For many organizations, system maintenance costs more than the production of the actual system itself. If the system is well designed it should be able to be easily updated and maintained. Poor design makes it difficult to implement new features, which could end the software’s life cycle early. Once a major change is determined to be the best option for a software, an organization must go through the system development life cycle again to replace the old system from scratch. This next version may be completely different than the old version with completely new features, or just an updated version of the old features.
System Development Approaches
Most system development projects include the six basic SDLC phases. However, the exact sequence and tasks performed during each phase, and the names and number of the phases, may vary depending on the organization and the type of system being developed. For example, smaller systems in smaller companies may skip or condense some activities, while other development projects may go back and repeat a previous step to refine the process before moving on. In efforts to improve the system analysis and design process, different methods have been developed. Some of these methods include the waterfall method, the iterative approach, and the end-user method. Each of these methods have different advantages and disadvantages in a way that they could be used to fit and optimize different kind of projects. These methods can be compared to our methods of vacation planning. People don't design their entire vacation plan as the first step and then execute it, without modification, as the second step. Instead, when the first day of vacation is over, they might use that day's experience as a basis for modifying the plan for the second day. In this way, system designs are similar.
A traditional approach for the system development has five phases which have to be completed in chronological order. First phase is the preliminary investigation. In this process, the team of development investigates the need for possible software automation in the given system. At the end the team creates a document of specific recommendations for the candidate system. It includes the personnel assignments, costs, project schedule, target dates, identifies problems and constraint. The second phase is systems analysis which is the study of a problem, prior to taking some action. It refers to the study of the business area or application, usually leading to the specification of the new system. The third phase is systems design which is defined as those tasks that focus on the specification of a detailed computer-based solution. The analyst focuses on three basic elements: the output that must be provided by the system, the source data, or input that the user will provide to the system, the processing needed to produce the output, given the input. The fourth phase is system acquisition financial institutions should ensure that systems are developed, acquired, and maintained with appropriate security controls. This leads us to the last step which is system implementation, in this phase, the production system is installed, initial user training is completed, user documentation is delivered, and the post implementation review meeting is held. When this phase is completed, the application is in steady-state production. Installation the biggest aspect is that the entire system is planned and built and built before anyone gets to use it or test it, so every aspect to every phase is essential to the traditional approach for system development.
Unlike the traditional approach, the iterative (repetitive) approach allows for system testing during development. The emphasis here is on incremental changes through a process known as prototyping. Prototyping is the creation of software application prototypes. Prototypes, generally speaking, are early models of some product that is created for testing purposes. With software prototyping, developers are able to receive crucial feedback from testers early in the beginning stages of development. For this reason the iterative approach accounts for potential risks that developers face (e.g. accounting for user needs, verifying accuracy of initial project estimates). With that, the iterative approach acts as a response to the traditional development cycle, which is more likely to have “higher software costs and poor estimates of time and cost” due to the expense of changing a finished product. As the product moves closer to release, the cost of implementing changes increases exponentially. It is a difficult task because the whole system has to be modified to incorporate sudden changes, and this can have undesirable results. Prototyping resolves this by knowing what the user really wants, which leads to increased user involvement. Interaction between users and developers is vital because it ensures what tasks need to be accomplished on the end of the developer. Overall the iterative approach addresses some of the problems that might not be possible for the traditional approach to address.
The End-User Development Approach
As opposed to the iterative or traditional approach, which both focus on professional users, the end-user development approach is focused solely on configuring the development of the system and is often done using tools or programs. Instead of having to be highly educated and a professional in the area of software or programming, someone trying to develop a simplistic and easy system can use these programming tools and develop something of their own. A good example of this is sending out an email that someone wanted to be addressed to many people. This is usually used in small businesses, tasks, or daily projects, and is not something that an intricate business would ever use to run their day-to-day software programs. However, it is a nice alternative from having to start all over from the beginning and developing brand new software for simple tasks. The end user development approach is also convenient for a user who wants to make something their own and customize the way the software runs to fit their personal needs. This approach is extremely useful for individuals who don’t have the knowledge, time, or money to put into building new software from the ground up. The software is easy to use, personal, and a great alternative to the other two options.
business intelligence: The process of gathering, storing, accessing, and analyzing data about a company in order to make better business decisions.
computer-aided design: A general term applied to the use of computer technology to automate design functions.
data mart: A collection of data related to a particular subject or department in a company.
decision support system: A type of information system typically used by upper management that provides people with the tools and capabilities to organize and analyze their decision making information.
enterprise architecture: A comprehensive framework used to describe and manage an organization’s business functions and systems.
enterprise system: A system that is used throughout an entire enterprise (business, organization, government agency, and so on).
geographic information system: An information system that combines geographic information with other types of data (such as information about customers, sales, and so forth) in order to provide a better understanding of the relationships among the data.
intelligent agent: A program that performs specific tasks to help make a user’s work environment more efficient or entertaining and that typically modifies its behavior based on the user’s actions.
management information system: A type of information system that provides decision makers with preselected information that can be used to make middle-management decisions.
product lifecycle management (PLM) system: A system designed to manage a product as it moves through the various stages of its life cycle, from design to retirement.
robot: A device, controlled by a human operator or a computer, that can move and react to sensory input.
robotics: The study of robot technology.
system acquisition: The phase of the system development life cycle in which hardware, software, and other necessary system components are acquired.
system design: The phase of the system development life cycle in which a model of the new system and how it will work is formally established.
system implementation: The phase of the system development life cycle that encompasses activities related to making the system operational.
- What is a collection of elements and procedures that interact to accomplish a goal?
- An __________ is a collection of elements (people, hardware, software, and data) and procedures that interact to generate information needed by the users in an organization.
- What is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operations of an enterprise (a business, organization, government agency, or other entity.)
- __________ include the hardware and software needed to create electronic documents, as well as to convert printed documents into electronic form so they can be processed or archived electronically.
- What are programs that perform specific tasks to help make a user's work environment more efficient or entertaining?
- What are software programs that can make decisions and draw conclusions, similar to a human expert?
- The IT person most involved with system development is the _________
- When an organization hires an outside firm to perform specific tasks, it is referred to as _______
- What is the phase of system development in which the problem area is studied in depth and the needs of system users are assessed?
- What focuses on specifying what the new system will look like and how it will work?
- Information system
- Enterprise architecture
- Document processing systems
- Intelligent agents
- Expert Systems
- Systems analyst
- System analysis
- System design
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- Lee, Ellen, "5 Ways Technology Is Transforming Health Care." Forbes, Jan. 2013. Web. 8 Sept. 2014.
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- Understanding Computers 14th Ed. by Deborah Morley & Charles S. Parker
- Wikipedia: Watson (computer)
- Wikipedia: Cognitive computing
- Wikipedia: Watson (computer)