System Analysis and Design Assignment Essay Sample

System Analysis and Design Assignment Pages
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Systems analysis is the process of investigation and existing system – usually manual – to discover how it works and what the problems are. And then to design a new improved system, usually involving computers (hardware and software) and implementing the changes. This is so that it will provide a faster, cheaper, easier to use and more efficient system.

The analyst must be a good communicator, capable of obtaining information from existing employees without becoming an annoyance. People often feel threatened when re-organisation takes place. Those who are likely to be affected like to be involved and kept informed of any changes.

Stage 1 – Problem Identification

The user (usually a department i.e. Sales) will recognise that there is a problem with the information that they are currently using. The problem might be some of the following:

* The data is not available

* Data is available only after a large clerical exercise, performed manually

* Data is obtained too slowly

* Data is not detailed enough or is in the wrong format

* The present system is too costly to maintain

* New legislation may require access to new information

* New technology may make possible what was previously impossible

* Large volumes of data require repetitive processing

* All of the above.

If the user does not change then they may become inefficient, uncompetitive and lose business to other rival companies. External changes may be forced on to the user. For example if head office makes a decision to computerise the company, then all branches must also do so.

The requirements of any new system are written down as a term of reference, which will contain:

1. The objectives of the new system, e.g. cost reductions, management information, increased volume of business, better customer service etc.

2. Constraints on cost, resources available, areas of business to be left unchanged.

3. Times available.

4. Expected reports required from the new system.

5. Problems with the current system.

6. Suggest solutions by management.

Stage 2 – Feasibility Study

This is a short examination of the problem in order to determine whether it is worth-while to do the project. Some of the factors which are considered at this stage include the following:

Technically Feasible: Has this been done before? Do the staff have the skills to do it? Do we have the right hardware?

Economially Feasible: Can it be afforded?

Legally Feasible: – What laws apply to what we want to do?

Operationally Feasible: Will it be compatible with our other systems? How will it work?

Socially Feasible: What are the opinions of the Unions? What is the effect on customers? Will staff redundancies, re-training, re-location or deskilling be required?

A feasibility report is produced for management of the organisation, on which they can base their decisions as to whether the project should continue, stop or be delayed (due to higher priority projects).

Stage 3 – Systems Analysis

This stage is only performed if there is a positive decision from the feasibility report. This involves the detailed examination of the existing system using various methods, with the aim of obtaining a complete understanding of how it works and how it will change in the future.

Various Methods Used:

1) Interviews – We should interview employees as they have a detailed knowledge of how the systems works and we should interview the managers because they know how the whole system works.

Pick a time and place which is suitable. Detailed questions may be asked with the opportunity to discuss further points. The answers given may be incomplete, misleading or not relevant. The answers given may be as expected (but not what really happens).

2) Questionnaires – These are useful for collecting information from many people quickly, who are scattered over a wide area. However, low response rates are common – there is no opportunity to ask further questions – ambiguous questions may produce different answers.

3) Observations – These are used to reveal working pattern and any bottlenecks where information flows are held up. They show office layouts and plans. They reveal working practices. They back-up information gathered from interviews and questionnaires.

4) Record Inspection – This involves examining all the written records, e.g. data capture forms, filing systems and invoices sent out.

At this stage the analysis will have a clear idea of how the present system operates, and the problems associated with it. Specifications will now be drawn up, detailing what the new system will do in very precise terms.

This involves much discussion with the user so that agreement is reached and a contract signed. Any changes at a later stage may prove to be very costly (new contract).

Software Packages Vs. Program Solution

After the analyst has decided what the requirements are for the new system, he or she must decide whether to write programs of this own (bespoke) or to by an existing package.

A software package is composed of a set of programs, plus the documentation (user guide) needed to operate those programs (with staff training or telephone support). Typical items in a user guide include:

* Purpose of program

* System Requirements

* Loading Instructions

* Operating Instructions (Input and Output screenshots)

* Error messages and what action to take.

Advantages of Software Packages

1) Available off-the-shelf, while a bespoke program takes a long time to develop.

2) There may be a choice of programs available.

3) They may be viewed before purchase.

4) Opinions of current users may be sought before purchase.

5) The package should be cheaper because the development costs are shared by all the purchasers.

6) The package may exist as a family of programs, which can integrate data.

Disadvantages of Software Packages

1) There may be no programs available for a specific task.

2) The package may only perform a certain amount of the required tasks, e.g. 60% and modifications may be costly.

3) The way in which the organisation works may need to change to suit the new package.

4) The package may not link with existing packages.

Programmed solutions will have the opposite advantages and disadvantages, to those listed above for the software package solution.

Stage 4 – Technical Design

An analyst can now start the detailed work of designing the new system. This will involve designing the following:

1) Reports – These will consist of the outputs of the new system

2) Data Input Screens – For the entry of data

3) File Structures – Defined using field names, data types, validation, help messages, indexed, mandatory etc.

4) File Processing – What operations are required, e.g. open and close, add, delete, calculate, modify, sort, merge etc.

5) Data Collection Forms – Designed to collect data for input to computer.

6) Data Input – Is the data scanned in? Is the data keyed in manually? Will a barcode reader be required?

7) Hardware Required – Type of hardware needed and the quantity? Printers required? What volume of data?

8) Security Procedures – Who has access to the data? What privileges will they have? Will a firewall be necessary to protect data?

All this work needs to be clearly documented using system flow charts – a graphical representation of how the system will work. This makes it easier to understand because it shows manual operations, hardware devices used and files involved.

Stage 5 – Testing Stage

This is vital to the successful implementation of a new computer based system, if it is to gain the confidence of the users. It must be robust, accurate, dependable, fast and easy to use. Often an independent test plan is drawn up by the users of the new system, based upon tasks that the system will be required to perform – this is known as Acceptance Testing. This must be satisfactory before the user makes the system operational.

The test plan will include:

A. Purpose of the test – the objective being tested and which part of the system that is involved.

B. The location and timing of the test – where and when the test is to be performed.

C. Test Description – what the inputs will be and what the expected outputs will be.

D. Test Procedures – how test data will be prepared, results obtained and analysed.

Types of Testing

1) Functional Testing – This can be completed at different levels, e.g. module testing will test only a limited piece of code developed by one programmer. While system testing will involve a series of modules developed by a team of programmers. The data used usually includes 3 things:

A. Normal Data – data you know is valid, e.g. in exam marks entering 70.

B. Extreme Data – e.g. if entering exam marks, entering 0 or 100 as these are the limits of what data can be accepted.

C. Invalid Data – entering data you know is invalid to test for error messages or if the system accepts this wrong data.

2) Recovery Testing – Can the system recover from a failure, especially in real-time systems and large online databases?

3) Performance Testing – How well and fast does the system work. Can it deal with the volumes of data involved, and are response times for users acceptable.

Stage 6 – Implementation

This involved the introduction of a new computer system to replace the old system:

1) Equipment may need to be ordered, installed, configured

2) Stationery may need to be printed, e.g. pay slips, invoices etc

3) Office space may need to be created, re-designed re-wired or new furniture ordered

4) Manual files may need to be input – static data is keyed in first, and live data is keyed in just prior to implementation so that it is up to date.

5) Staff may need some training and practice, e.g. operational staff need training on which keys to press, while management need to know how to generate reports and interoperate them.

Several different methods of change-over are possible:

1) Direct Changeover – Old system stops and the new system starts on a certain, predefined date. Usually only small systems could use this method. There is no safety net in case any problems arise. Staff may not be ready for the change. However, the full benefits of the new system are available immediately.

2) Parallel Changeover – Old system runs alongside the new system as a safety net, for a limited period of time and usually for one cycle (e.g. weekly pay cycle). This however creates extra work but allows companies to see the results from both the old and new systems – and compare these results.

Stage 7 – Evaluation & Review

At this stage the new system is evaluated to see if the changes have made the company’s work more productive, efficient and whether the necessary changes have been implemented correctly.

The evaluation of the new system is extremely important, as it allows the company to discover any potential problems or glitches involved in the transition from old to new. And therefore correct these problems, whether they are to do with staff training or the actual new computer system.

A review of the transition provides an insight into how the process went, what problems were encountered – if any – and how the new system is currently operating. The expectations should be fully met by the new system.

Task 2 – Analysing and Documenting

During Systems Analysis it is important to analyse the current system used, to find out exactly how it works, how it can be improved and how it is used on a daily basis.

For this report I will be investigating the current library system in the Learning Centre. In order to discover more about the current manual library system used, I interviewed the librarian.

The following questions and answers provide a summary of this interview, along with an analysis of the problems identified with the current manual system.

Interview with the Learning Centre Librarian

Q1. How does a person become a member of the Learning Centre – and how is this data stored?

“The first thing required is for the student to complete a registration form with their class and contact details. This allows us to contact the student should the books become overdue and they are not returned. Once this has been completed then the student returns it to us, and is provided with two library cards. When books are borrowed and returned without any becoming overdue then they can request further cards.”

Q2. How are the Membership Registration forms stored?

“We store the registration forms in the Members File. This allows us to keep their contact details on file, and this is sorted by the date in which they joined the library.”

Q3. How does a new book get added to the Learning Centre and how is it stored?

“New books are either ordered or donated to the library. We create two cards for each book, one which is sorted by book title and one by subject matter called the accession ID number (‘aggie’ ID). These are both placed in the books file and allows us to find a book either sorted by title, or by the accession ID or subject matter. This helps us locate the books on the shelves.”

Q4. How does a member borrow a book from the Learning Centre?

“Each book has a book ticket folder inside the cover that contains a book card. When a book is borrowed we stamp this with a date 14 days from today – the date in which the book is due to be returned. The student now knows when the book is due back by.

We also take the book card from the folder and place this in the loans file at the front of the cabinet. We use dividers or place cards to determine how long the books have been overdue. The last step is to desensitise the book so that it can be taken out of the library without the alarm sounding.”

Q5. How does a member return a book to the Learning Centre and which files are adjusted?

“When the member brings the book back we check the date that was stamped on the book folder inside the front cover. We then check the loans file, which is sorted by date, and the member’s library card will be located here along with the book card. This is then placed back inside the book cover, the book is re-sensitised, and is returned to the shelf in the learning centre”.

Q6. How do the Learning Centre staff know when books are overdue and what action is taken?

“Because we use place card dividers in the Loans File we can quickly determine which books are overdue, and by how long. The cards at the front of the file are the most recent books which have been borrowed. The next dividers identifies books which have been borrowed for the 14 day period but haven’t yet been returned. The next divider is a further two weeks overdue, and then books which are now seriously overdue.

If books are returned a couple of days later than the due back date then we will not normally take any action, unless of course a request has been made for that specific book. For overdue books we will send a letter to the student’s address as a reminder and asking them to return the book. We consult the member’s file for this and look at their registration form, and we can also contact their class tutor to remind them of the overdue book. There is a fine of 30p per day for overdue books up to �3.00 maximum.

If the book is still not returned we will send a further letter and then possibly take action by demanding the cost of the book be paid immediately.”

Analysis of Present System & Problems Identified

* Becoming a Library Member

In order to become a member of the Learning Centre, a person a student is required to complete a Membership Registration form. The form requests data such as name, address, telephone number – this data can be used to contact a member, should a book become overdue.

The form also requests that students complete the name of their course, tutor and the days and evenings that they attend the Institute. This allows the Learning Centre to contact the student’s tutor in the event of a book becoming overdue, and knowing when the student attends the course enables them to speak to the student in person if necessary.

When the student returns their completed Membership Registration form to the Learning Centre, they are issued with two membership tickets that can be used to borrow books from the library. If a member wishes to change their details, the staff locate their membership form from the Members File and manually change the details. If they wish to leave the library then they must return their library cards and their file is removed from the Members File.

Problems associated with this: The use of manual registration forms and membership tickets can create extra work when it comes to storing, sorting and locating specific data. The Members folder could become lost, damaged or even destroyed in event of a fire.

* Storing the Membership Forms

When the student returns their form, the Learning Centre staff places this in the Member File. The forms within the member file cabinet are stored in chronological order, meaning the Learning Centre can find records of members according to the date that they joined the library.

Problems associated with this: As the membership forms are manually stored in the Member File, it is not an easy process in locating a member other than by the date in which they joined. Locating a specific member’s registration form can therefore be a long task.

* Adding New Books to the Library & Removing Them

When a new book is added to the Learning Centre stock, two separate cards are created. The first card sorts the book by title and is placed in the Book File by Title Order. The second card created sorts the book by Subject matter – for example 004 – and is placed in the Book File by subject order.

This 004 reference is referred to as an Accession ID number (or ‘aggie’ ID) and is used within the Learning Centre to locate books on the shelves, according to the subject matter. Therefore all new books are placed on the shelves according to the category, e.g. Psychology, Computer Hardware, Computer Software. If a book is to be removed from the library, the cards are removed from the Book File (title and subject order) and the book is physically removed from the learning centre shelf.

Problems associated with this: The manual creation of book cards can be a time-consuming process. These cards are manually stored within files in the learning centre – these could be placed in the wrong order or could be lost or damaged. Books are only stored by Title, therefore locating a book by author would be an almost impossible task and very time consuming.

* How a Member Finds a Book

In order to find a specific book in the learning centre library, the member has a number of choices available to him. He can either manually walk around the library, browsing the shelves until he comes across the book he is looking for. Or he can ask a member of staff for assistance.

The learning centre librarian knows where general subject areas are located around the library, and can point the member in the correct direction. The librarian can also look at the Books File which contains cards for every book in the library. If the member knows the title of the book then the librarian can look at this card, alternatively the member of staff can search by the ‘aggie’ number – according to the book’s subject matter.

Problems associated with this: Manually looking through cards to find a specific book can be time consuming and prevents the learning centre librarians from conducting other work. Also it is impractical for a member to walk around the library and spend time trying to find the book he or she requires. Also if the Books File become damaged, lost or is out of order then this will make the librarian’s job even more difficult.

* Borrowing a Book from the Library

There are a number of procedures which must take place in order for a member to borrow a book from the Learning Centre library. Each book within the library has a ticket folder inside the cover, which also contains a book card. The librarian stamps the book folder with the date in which the book is due to be returned – 14 days from the date of borrowing. This lets the student know the date by which they should return the book to the Learning Centre.

The second procedure involves removing the book card from the ticket folder – which is also stamped with the due by date – and inserting this into the member’s library ticket. This is then placed at the front of the Loan File. The Loan file is sorted in chronological order, with dividers in place to show how long a book as been borrowed from the library. Finally the book is desensitised so that when the member leaves the Learning Centre, the security system in place to prevent theft is not activated.

The member is limited in the amount of books he or she can borrow at one time. Upon initial registration they are provided with two library tickets, therefore allowing them to borrow a maximum of two books at once. However upon satisfactory use of the library service – i.e. returning books on time – they can request further library tickets which will allow them to borrow more than two books at one time.

Problems associated with this: The Loan File could become untidy and cluttered – it may not be immediately obvious which books are overdue and could create extra work to sort this by hand. The librarian may not have time to correct this.

* Returning a Book to the Library

When the member returns the book to the Learning Centre library, the librarian checks the book and finds the date in which is was due to be returned by. Using this date the librarian locates book ticket and member ticket in the Loan File.

The book ticket is placed back in the inside cover of the book, and the member card is then handed back to the member, allowing them to borrow another book if they require. The Learning Centre staff then sensitise the book again to prevent theft, and place the book back on the shelf from which is was borrowed from. They use the ‘aggie’ number to find the location of the book on the shelf.

Problems associated with this: The book tickets could become lost or damaged. Also the member’s library card could become lost. The process of looking through the loans file can be time consuming and laborious.

* How Overdue Books are Discovered and Processed

The Loan File within the Learning Centre is operated in chronological order and allows staff to quickly identify overdue books. Dividers are used to separate newly borrowed books from overdue books. The learning centre staff can identify books which have recently became overdue (they have been borrowed for 14 days but have not yet been returned), books which are still overdue after a further two weeks, and books which are seriously overdue.

The Learning Centre will not normally take an action against a book which is slightly overdue – e.g. by a few days or one week – unless there is a demand for this particular title and other members have requested it. In this case, they Learning Centre can use the information provided on the member’s registration form to contact their tutor and request the book be returned.

For books which are becoming increasingly overdue, the Learning Centre will normally send a letter to the student’s address requesting the book be returned immediately. They also have the option of making a telephone call to the student to seek the return of the book. When books become seriously overdue, and there does not appear to be any sign that the book will be returned, the Learning Centre send a strongly worded letter to the member. This informs them that they will be liable for paying the full cost of the borrowed book if it is not returned immediately, at the cost price which the Learning Centre originally paid for the book.

The Learning Centre also has a fine procedure in place which will fine members 30p for every day that a book is overdue, up to a maximum of �3.00. This is used by the Learning Centre to encourage members to return books on time and avoid the fine.

Problems associated with this: The loans file could become disorganised and determining which books are overdue and for how long could become difficult to manage. The cards may get lost or put in the wrong place. The loans file could become damaged.

* How a Member Reserves a Book

A member may wish to borrow a specific book from the learning centre library, only to discover that the book has already been borrowed and is not available. He or she may then wish to reserve that book, so that when it is returned he or she can borrow it for themselves.

The process for reserving a book involves the learning centre staff taking a note of the member’s name, the details of the book, and writing this on a Post-It note. This is then fixed to the partition or the librarian’s computer in the learning centre, and acts as a reminder that this specific book is being requested by another member.

When the book is returned and the person who has borrowed it requests an extension, the librarian checks to see if a request has been made for the book and can therefore deny an extension.

Problems associated with this: Post-It notes can become lost and jeopardise the entire reservation system that was put in place. A different member of staff may be on duty when the book is returned and not realise that a reservation has been requested.

* How Daily/Monthly/Statistic are Produced

The learning centre may wish to produce statistics on a regular basis, for example how many books have been borrowed in a certain day/week/month, how many books are currently overdue. The process for producing these statistics is currently conducted manually.

The librarian checks the Loans File and it’s place cards to determine the amount of books which have been borrowed recently. Place cards are in place for regular intervals, e.g. Yesterday, Last Week etc. The librarian can determine from this how many books have been borrowed, how many are overdue, and keep a note of these statistics. Over time this can build into a useful piece of statistical data for the previous weeks, months and years.

Problems associated with this: This process can be time consuming and problematic. Cards may not be replaced correctly or in order and the librarian may not have time to conduct this laborious task. In addition the risk of damage from fire or theft would have a detrimental effect on the library and statistics would be lost.

Task 3 – Design

Now that the problems of the current manual system have been identified, it is time to consider the possible options that are available. I have identified three possible solutions to the problems identified within the learning centre library.

Possible Solutions

1. Do Nothing

Advantages:

* The learning centre staff can continue to use the system that they are familiar with

* It will not be required to train staff in using a new system

* There is no possibility of encountering problems with any new system.

Disadvantages:

* The problems of the current system will continue and staff will have to continue to complete all tasks manually

* Time will continue to be wasted completing laborious manual tasks by hand

* The system will continue to overstretch the staff and manual records are at risk of becoming lost, damaged or destroyed by fire.

2. Improve the current system

Advantages:

* There will be minimal disruption to the working of the current system

* A minimal amount of training will be required to adapt to the improvements of the improved manual system

* This would be the least expensive and fastest option.

Disadvantages:

* The system will continue to operate manually and tasks will continue to be completed by hand

* Time will be spent making improvements to a system which will have little room for expansion in the future

* Many problems of the present system, such as risk of important files being destroyed by fire or theft, will remain.

3. Write a program in Visual Basic

Advantages:

* This will ensure the new system is designed specifically to the needs of the learning centre library

* Visual Basic is a powerful language and will allow me to create a visually appealing, easy to use program package for the staff to use

* The program can be customised and updated as and when changes are required

Disadvantages:

* I do not have a complete working knowledge of writing programs in Visual Basic yet and can only write basic programs

* Learning how to program extensively in Visual Basic will be a very time consuming task

* The newly designed system may encounter problems to which I may not be able to resolve on my own.

4. Use or customise a Software Package

Advantages:

* This will allow an off-the-shelf software package such as Microsoft Word, Excel or Access to be used

* The learning centre staff may already be familiar with using these systems and they may be able to be customised to match their needs

* This would be one of the least expensive options since the Microsoft Office package is already installed in the library

Disadvantages:

* The system will not be designed to the exact specifications and requirements of the staff

* There is little customisation available in some software packages such as Microsoft Word, and the benefits to the staff would be minimal

* Some staff training of the new system will be required.

Chosen Solution: Software Package

After considering the possible options I have decided that customising an off-the-shelf software package will be the most ideal, cost-effective and easiest to construct method of building a new system.

There are a variety of software packages available, however I have narrowed down the selection to two possible options and will now evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each program.

Microsoft Excel – a spreadsheet program

Advantages:

* This software will be easy for staff to use and learn to work with

* This package is a part of the Office suite of programs, which is already installed on the staff’s computer

* The program can be used to search for data by using the Find command, and data can be filted and sorted.

Disadvantages:

* Data will have to be manually entered each time a book is borrowed or a file is updated

* There is no real way to link the data together in the Excel program, and despite being able to perform advanced calculations this is not overly necessary

* There is no way to customise the Microsoft Excel program to the user’s specific needs and requirements.

Microsoft Access – a relational database program

Advantages:

* This is a relational database program which can be used to create separate tables for each file which is currently processed manually, i.e. Loans Table, Books Table etc

* Relationships can be made between tables which will link fields together, saving time and removing irrelevant data when not required

* The package is fully customisable and can be used to create reports and performs tasks automatically for the learning centre staff.

Disadvantages:

* Although Microsoft Access is extremely customisable, it is a difficult process and is not easy to learn

* Each individual table, form and report will have to be created and integrated in a way that allows the staff to perform their current manual tasks

* It will take time to set-up macros which will perform tasks for the staff.

After evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each software package, I have decided that the Microsoft Access package will be customised and used as the learning centre’s new computer system. This is due to the fact that the package is completely customisable, allowing tables to be linked, sorted, queries to be set-up on data and reports created for the staff.

The Microsoft Access package will be fully customised in a way that it allows the learning centre staff to perform all their current manual tasks, and by using a package that will be totally customised to their requirements. The package will be customised so much that the staff will be unaware they are using Microsoft Access.

Aims of the New System

Expected Outputs

Output 1

Title

Details of books by particular Author eg CS French

Who needs this

A borrower

Fields Needed

BookTitle, BookAuthor, Year, Cost, Publisher, ISBN, DeweyID, AccessionID

Output Format

List on screen and printed

Sorted

By Year

This report is useful to library members who may wish to search for books available by a particular author. The report can either be listed on screen, or printed out for convenience. The fields in this report will be sorted by Year.

Output 2

Title

Members report by particular Class

Who needs this

The staff

Fields Needed

MemberID, FirstName, Surname, Street, Town, Postcode, Class

Output Format

List on screen and printed

Sorted

By Class

This report allows the learning centre staff to see how many people in each class are members of the library. The report will be sorted by Class, giving the staff quick access to the information that they need.

Output 3

Title

Report of books on a particular subject

Who needs this

Staff and members

Fields Needed

DeweyID, AccessionID, BookTitle, BookAuthor, Year, Publisher, ISBN, Pages

Output Format

List on screen and printed

Sorted

By DeweyID

This report allows the learning centre staff to see how many people in each class are members of the library. The report will be sorted by Class, giving the staff quick access to the information that they need.

Output 4

Title

Overdue Books which have not been returned

Who needs this

Staff

Fields Needed

DeweyID, AccessionID, BookTitle, BookAuthor, DateBorrowed, DateDueBack, MemberID, FirstName, Surname, Street, Town, Postcode, Class

Output Format

List on screen, printed or used as mail merge

Sorted

By DeweyID

This report allows the learning centre staff to see how many books are overdue, and take action if necessary. All necessary fields are available, including the name of the book, the date the book was due back and the name and address of the student who has not returned it. This can therefore be imported into mail merge to send a letter to the student.

Output 5

Title

All Books Borrowed during the last week

Who needs this

Staff

Fields Needed

DeweyID, AccessionID, BookTitle, BookAuthor, DateBorrowed, DateDueBack, MemberID, FirstName, Surname, Street, Town, Postcode, Class

Output Format

List on screen, printed or used as mail merge

Sorted

By DeweyID

This report allows the learning centre staff to see how many books are overdue, and take action if necessary. All necessary fields are available, including the name of the book, the date the book was due back and the name and address of the student who has not returned it. This can therefore be imported into mail merge to send a letter to the student.

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