Quality has long been a concern of businesses, as it should be for systems analysts in the analysis and design of information systems. The user of the information system is the single most important factor in establishing and evaluating its quality. It is far less costly to correct problems in their early stages than it is to wait until a problem is articulated through user complaints or crises. The three approaches to quality assurance through software engineering are (1) securing total quality assurance by designing systems and software with a top-down, modular approach; (2) documenting software with appropriate tools; and (3) testing, maintaining, and auditing software.
The process of ensuring that the information system is operational and then allowing users to take over its operation for use and evaluation is called implementation. Implementation concerns moving computer power to individual users by shifting computer power and responsibility to groups and individuals throughout the business with the help of distributed computing, cloud computing, and service-oriented architecture; training users and making sure that each user understands any new roles they must take on because of the new information system; choosing a conversion strategy; providing proper security, privacy, and disaster plans; and evaluating the new or modified information system.
The systems analyst can ensure total quality management (TQM) for analyzing and designing information systems in many ways. Six Sigma is a culture, philosophy, methodology, and approach to quality that has as its goal the elimination of all defects. A tool for designing a top-down, modular system is called a structure chart. Service-oriented architecture is an approach that uses independent services to perform various functions. Two of the structured techniques that can aid the systems analyst are procedure manuals and FOLKLORE. Systems analysts must choose a technique that fits in well with what was previously used in the organization and that allows flexibility and easy modification.
Testing of specific programs, subsystems, and total systems is essential to quality. System maintenance is an important consideration. Both internal and external auditors are used to determine the reliability of the system’s information. They communicate their audit findings to others so as to improve the usefulness of the system’s information.
Implementation is the process of ensuring that information systems and networks are operational and then involving well-trained users in their operation. In large systems projects, the primary role of the analyst is overseeing implementation by correctly estimating the time needed and then supervising the installation of equipment for information systems.
Distributed systems take advantage of telecommunications technology and database management to interconnect people manipulating some of the same data in meaningful but different ways. As hardware and software are evaluated, the systems analyst also needs to consider the costs and benefits of employing a distributed system to fulfill user requirements. One of the most popular ways to approach distributed systems is through the use of a client-server model. Cloud computing allows commerce, applications, and data storage to be served using the Internet. Standard types of organizational networks include the local area network (LAN) and the wide area network (WAN). Using a top-down approach, analysts can use five symbols to help draw network decomposition and hub connectivity diagrams.
Training users and personnel to interact with the information system is an important part of implementation, because users must usually be able to run the system without the intervention of the analyst. Conversion is the process from changing from the old information system to the new. The five conversion strategies are direct changeover, parallel conversion, phased or gradual conversion, modular conversion, and distributed conversion. Research suggests that systems analysts can improve the chances that newly implemented systems will be accepted if they develop systems with predominant organizational metaphors in mind.
Even though you take all possible measures to ensure system security, privacy, and stability, all employees and systems are vulnerable to natural or human-made disaster. Disaster recovery is focused on how a business can continue after a disaster has hit and how it can restore essential IT infrastructure.
Many different evaluation approaches are available, including cost-benefit analysis, the revised decision evaluation approach, and user involvement evaluations. The information system utility framework is a direct way to evaluate a new system based on the six utilities of possession, form, place, time, actualization, and goal.
Once you have mastered the material in this chapter you will be able to:
- Recognize the importance of users and analysts taking a total quality approach to improve the quality of software design and maintenance.
- Realize the importance of documentation, testing, maintenance, and auditing.
- Understand how service-oriented architecture and cloud computing are changing the nature of information system design.
- Design appropriate training programs for users of the new system.
- Recognize the differences among physical conversion strategies, and be able to recommend an appropriate one to a client.
- Address security, disaster preparedness, and disaster recovery concerns for traditional and Web-based systems.
- Understand the importance of evaluating the new system, and be able to recommend a suitable evaluation technique to a client.