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Introduction to Information Systems in Business

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1. Introduction to Information Systems in Business 1.1. Aims and Objectives The aim of this section is to introduce information systems engineering in organisations. The following topics will be discussed :- * The reasons why Information Technology and Information Systems are crucial to modern organisations and thus subject to professional management; * The factors influencing information systems engineering. Some of the ideas and many of the references in this chapter are adopted from Avison & Fitzgerald's influential 'Information Systems Development: Methodologies, Techniques and Tools'. 1.2. The Importance of Information Technology and Information Systems All medium to large organisations depend on Information technology for their continued survival. Consider organisations like British Gas, British Telecom, the Power and Water companies having to manually calculate, millions of customer bills every month or quarter! Clearly the clerical effort involved would make it difficult if not impossible for the organisation to make a profit. Similar arguments apply to many other organisations such as the high street banks, central and local government. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph IT supplement suggested that many large organisations could last no longer than 24 hours without IT support! ...read more.


The argument is that computerising existing systems is only likely to yield marginal gains. In many cases the only means of achieving radical improvements is to radically re-engineer the business process itself and use IT to enable to re-engineered process. Process Innovation illustrates the main argument of the paper, i.e. that an effective methodology for ISE should adopt a rigorous, structured approach to data design and a dynamic approach to process design. 1.8. The Technical Environment A company which has made a substantial investment in ICL hardware and the INGRES Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) does not decide to convert to IBM and DB2 lightly, so realistically the development is constrained by the existing technical environment. 1.8.1. Paradigms, Models & Methodologies: Structured Methodologies The industry has realised that a standard approach using proven analysis and design techniques should improve the 'quality' of systems. The standard methodology for the development of business information systems in the UK is Structured Systems Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM). However there are many other methodologies in use around the world such as Yourdon, Gane & Sarson, Hood and Information Engineering and DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Methodology). ...read more.


the PC/Select Case product has add-on toolkits for SSADM and Yourdon. Again organisations using these tools are choosing to constrain their systems development process. 1.9. Quality Assurance Quality may seem to the current buzzword, however many organisations take quality very seriously and have instigated quality improvement programs, which involve the use of informal/semi-formal walkthroughs and formal inspections and reviews. These quality control mechanisms can be applied at every phase of the systems development lifecycle including Strategic Information Systems Planning. 1.9.1. Project Management Everyone has heard of spectacular overruns in terms of time and budgets for computer projects. In an attempt to overcome these problems many organisations have adopted formal, structured (or semi-structured) project management techniques, examples are 'PRINCE' (Bentley, Introducing PRINCE - the structured project management method). These techniques are frequently integrated with the methodology in use and have their own supporting tools, e.g. PMW (Project Managers Workbench from the Hoskyns company) and 'Microsoft Project'. 1.9.2. Resource Constraints Last but by no means least, the availability of suitable staff, money and time provide the most obvious constraints on the systems development process. 1.10. End-User Systems Development In this approach end-users develop their own systems using a variety of user-friendly application development packages such as PC databases and spreadsheets. There will be further notes on this subject. 1.11. ...read more.

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