Systems projects are initiated by many different sources for many reasons. Some of the projects suggested will survive various stages of evaluation to be worked on by you (or you and your team); others will not and should not get that far. Businesspeople suggest systems projects for two broad reasons:
- because they experience problems that lend themselves to systems solutions, and
- because they recognize opportunities for improvement through upgrading, altering, or installing new systems when they occur.
Both situations can arise as the organization adapts to and copes with natural, evolutionary change.
Problems in the Organization
Managers do not like to conceive of their organization as having problems, let alone talk about them or share them with someone from outside. Good managers, however, realize that recognizing symptoms of problems or, at a later stage, diagnosing the problems themselves and then confronting them are imperative if the business is to keep functioning at its highest potential. Problems surface in many different ways. One way of conceptualizing what problems are and how they arise is to think of them as situations in which goals have never been met or are no longer being met. Useful feedback gives information about the gap between actual and intended performance. In this way feedback spotlights problems.
In some instances problems that require the services of systems analysts are uncovered because performance measures are not being met. Problems (or symptoms of problems) with processes that are visible in output and that could require the help of a systems analyst include excessive errors and work performed too slowly, incompletely, incorrectly, or not at all. Other symptoms of problems become evident when people do not meet baseline performance goals. Changes in employee behavior such as unusually high absenteeism, high job dissatisfaction, or high worker turnover should alert managers to potential problems. Any of these changes, alone or in combination, might be sufficient reason to request the help of a systems analyst.
Although difficulties such as those just described occur in the organization, feedback on how well the organization is meeting intended goals may come from outside, in the form of complaints or suggestions from customers, vendors, or suppliers, and lost or unexpectedly lower sales. This feedback from the external environment is extremely important and should not be ignored.
A summary of symptoms of problems and approaches useful in problem detection is provided in the table below Notice that checking output, observing or researching employee behavior, and listening to feedback from external sources are all valuable in problem finding. When reacting to accounts of problems in the organization, the systems analyst plays the roles of consultant, supporting expert, and agent of change, as discussed in Chapter 1 “Systems, Roles, and Development Methodologies“. As you might expect, roles for the systems analyst shift subtly when projects are initiated because the focus is on opportunities for improvement rather than on the need to solve problems.
|To Identify Problems||Look for These Specific Signs:|
|Check output against performance criteria.||• Too many errors|
• Work completed slowly
• Work done incorrectly
• Work done incompletely
• Work not done at all
|Observe behavior of employees.||• High absenteeism|
• High job dissatisfaction
• High job turnover
|Listen to external feedback from:|
• Suggestions for improvement
• Loss of sales
• Lower sales
- Project Initiation
- Defining the Problem in Project Initiation
- Selection of Projects
- Feasibility Study – Determining Whether the Project is Feasible
- Technical Feasibility – Ascertaining Hardware and Software Needs
- Acquisition of Computer Equipment – Technical Feasibility
- Software Evaluation in Technical Feasibility
- Economic Feasibility – Identifying & Forecasting Costs & Benefits
- Comparing Costs and Benefits – Economic Feasibilty
- Activity Planning and Control – Project Management
- Using PERT Diagrams in Project Planning
- Managing the Project
- Managing Analysis and Design Activities
- Creating the Project Charter & Avoiding Project Failures
- Organizing the Systems Proposal
- Using Figures for Effective Communication in System Proposal