PLANNING, DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF MIS
SHRI GURU RAM RAI INSTITUTE
TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE
BY ANKIT RAWAT
I am thankful to SGRR and specially who provided me the opportunity for carrying out the study. It is a moment of pleasure for me to acknowledge the help and support for those people who made me able to present this report.
Further, I extend my earnest thanks and gratefulness to my internal guide DR MANDEEP NARANG for his precious guidance and mentoring but for which my report here would not been so rewarding and fruitful.
I am also thankful to those who have helped me intellectually in preparation of this report directly or indirectly. At last it is my pious duty to record my heartiest gratitude to my parents and my family who taught first lessons of life and inspired me to face the hardships of life. At last, I would like to thank all my School friends for their love, faith and support.
PLANNING, DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF MIS
Planning of Information Systems
- a) Development of Long Range Plans of the MIS
Many organizations have purchased computers for data processing and for meeting the statutory requirements of filing the returns and reports to the Government. Computers are used mainly for computing and accounting the business transactions and have not been considered as a tool for information processing. The organizations have invested on computers and expanded its use by adding more or bigger computers to take care of the numerous transactions in the business. In this approach, the information processing function of the computers in the organization never got its due regard as an important asset to the organization. In fact, this function is misinterpreted as data processing for expeditious generation of reports and returns, and not as information processing for management actions and decisions. However, the scene has been changing since late eighties when the computers became more versatile, in the function of Storage, Communications, Intelligence and Language. The computer technology is so advanced that the barriers of storage, distance understanding of language and speed are broken.
The computers have become user-friendly. They can communicate to any distance and hare data, information and physical resources of other computers. Computers can now be used as a tool for information processing and communication. It can be used for storing large database or knowledgebase. It can be used for knowing the current status of any aspect of the business due to its online real time processing capability. With the advancement of computer technology more popularly known as information technology, it is now possible to recognize information as a valuable resource like money and capacity. It is necessary to link its acquisition, storage, use, and disposal as per the business needs for meeting the business objectives. Such a broad based activity can be executed only when it is conceived as a system. This system should deal with management information and not with data processing alone. It should provide support for management planning, decision making and action. It should support the needs of the lower management as well as that of the top management. It should satisfy the needs of different people in the organization at different levels having varying managerial capabilities. It should provide support to the changing needs of business management. In short, we need a Management Information System flexible enough to deal with the changing information needs of the organization. It should be conceived as an open system continuously interacting with the business environment with a built-in mechanism to provide the desired information as per the new requirements of the management. The designing of such an open system is a complex task. It can be achieved only if the MIS is planned, keeping in view, the plan of the business management of the organization. The plan of MIS is consistent to the business plan of the organization. The information needs for the implementation of the business plan should find place in the MIS. To ensure such an alignment possibility, it is necessary that the business plan – strategic or otherwise, states the information needs. The information needs are then traced to the source data and the systems in the organization which generate such a data. The plan of development of the MIS is linked with the steps of the implementation in a business development plan. The system of information generation is so planned that strategic information is provided for the strategic planning, control information is provided for a short term planning and execution. The details of information are provided to the operations management to assess the status of an activity and to find ways to make up, if necessary. Once the management needs are translated into information needs, it is left to the designer to evolve a plan of MIS development and implementation.
- b) Contents of the MIS Plan
A long range MIS plan provides direction for the development of the systems, and provides a basis for achieving the specific targets or tasks against a time frame. The plan would have contents which will be dealt by the designer under a support from the top management.
- C) MIS Goals and Objectives
It is necessary to develop the goals and objectives for the MIS which will support the business goals. The MIS goals and objectives will consider management philosophy, policy constraints, business risks, internal and external environment of the organization and the business. The goals and the objectives of the MIS would be so stated that they can be measured. The typical statements of the goals are as under:
o It should provide online information on the stock, markets and the accounts balances.
o The query processing should not exceed more than three seconds.
o The focus of the system will be on the end user computing and access facilities.
Such statements of the goals and objectives enable the designer to set the direction and design implementation strategies for the MIS Plan.
Strategy for the Plan Achievement
The designer has to take a number of strategic decisions for the achievement of the MIS goals and objectives. They are:
- a) Development strategy: An online, a batch, a real time technology platform.
- b) System development strategy: Any approach to the system development – Operational vs. Functional; Accounting vs. Analysis; Database vs. Conventional approach; Distributed vs. Decentralized processing; One Database vs. multiple databases SSAD vs. OOT
- c) Resources for system development: In house vs. external, customized development vs. the use of packages.
- d) Manpower composition: Analyst, programmer skills and knowhow.
The Architecture of the MIS
The architecture of the MIS plan provides a system structure and their input, output and linkages. It also provides a way to handle the systems or subsystems by way of simplification, coupling and decoupling of subsystems. It spells out in detail the subsystems from the data entry to processing, analysis to modeling, and storage to printing.
The System Development Schedule
A schedule is made for the development of the system. While preparing the schedule due consideration is given to the importance of the system in the overall information requirement. Due regard is also given to logical system development. For example, it is necessary to develop the accounting system first and then the analysis. Further, unless the systems are fully developed their integration is not possible. This development schedule is to be weighed against the time scale for achieving certain information requirement linked to a business plan. If these are not fully met, it is necessary to revise the time schedule and also the development schedule, whenever necessary.
Hardware and Software Plan
Giving due regard to the technical and operational feasibility, the economics of investment is worked out. Then the plan of procurement is made after selecting the hardware and software. One can take the phased approach of investment starting from the lower configuration of hardware going over to higher as development takes place. The process is to match the technical decisions with the financial decisions. The system development schedule is linked with the information requirements which in turn, are linked with the goals and objectives of the business. The selection of the architecture, the approach to the information system development and the choice of hardware and software are the strategic decisions in the design and development of the MIS in the organization. The organizations which do not care to take proper decisions in these areas suffer from overinvestment, underutilization and are not able to meet the critical information requirements. It is important to note the following points:
- The organization’s strategic plan should be the basis for the MIS strategic plan.
- The information system development schedule should match with the implementation schedule of the business plan.
- The choice of information technology is a strategic business decision and not a financial decision.
Development of Information Systems
- a) Development and Implementation of the MIS
Once the plan of MIS is made, the development of the MIS calls for determining the strategy of development is discussed earlier, the plan consists of various systems and subsystems. The development strategy determines where to begin and in what sequence the development can take place with the sole objective of assuring the information support. The choice of the system or the subsystem depends on its position in the total MIS plan, the size of the system, the user’s understanding of the systems and the complexity and its interface with other systems. The designer first develops systems independently and starts integrating them with other systems, enlarging the system scope and meeting the varying information needs. Determining the position of the system in the MIS is easy. The real problem is the degree of structure, and formalization in the system and procedures which determine the timing and duration of development of the system. Higher the degree of structured and formalization, greater is the stabilization of the rules, the procedures, decision-making and the understanding of the overall business activity. Here, it is observed that the user’s and the designer’s interaction is smooth, and their needs are clearly understood and respected mutually. The development becomes a method of approach with certainty in input process and outputs.
- b) Prototype Approach
When the system is complex, the development strategy is Prototyping of the System. Prototyping is a process of progressively ascertaining the information needs, developing methodology, trying it out on a smaller scale with respect to the data and the complexity, ensuring that it satisfies the needs of the users, and assess the problems of development and implementation.
This process, therefore, identifies the problem areas, inadequacies in the prototype visa is fulfillment of the information needs. The designer then takes steps to remove the inadequacies. This may call upon changing the prototype of the system, questioning the information needs, streamlining the operational systems and procedures and move user interaction.
In the prototyping approach, the designer’s task becomes difficult, when there are multiple users of the same system and the inputs they use are used by some other users as well. For example, a lot of input data comes from the purchase department, which is used in accounts and inventory management.
The attitudes of various users and their role as the originators of the data need to be developed with a high degree of positivism. It requires, of all personnel, to appreciate that the information is a corporate resource, and all have to contribute as per the designated role by the designer to fulfill the corporate information needs. When it comes to information the functional, the departmental, the personal boundaries do not exist. This call upon each individual to comply with the design needs and provide without fail the necessary data inputs whenever required as per the specification discussed and finalized by the designer.
Bringing the multiple users on the same platform and changing their attitudes toward information, as a corporate resource, is the managerial task of the system designer. The qualification, experience, knowledge, of the state of art, and an understanding of the corporate business, helps considerably, in overcoming the problem of changing the attitudes of the multiple users and the originators of the data.
- c) Life Cycle Approach
There are many systems or subsystems in the MIS which have a life cycle, that is, they have birth and death. Their emergence may be sudden or may be a part of the business need, and they are very much structured and rule based. They have 100% clarity of inputs and their sources, a definite set of outputs in terms of the contents and formats. These details more or less remain static from the day the system emerges and remains in that static mode for a long time. Minor modifications or changes do occur but they are not significant in terms of handling either by the designer or the user of the system. Such systems, therefore, have a life and they can be developed in a systematic manner, and can be reviewed after a year or two, for significant modification, if any.
Examples of such systems are pay roll, share accounting, basic financial accounting, finished goods accounting and dispatching, order processing, and so on. These systems have a fairly long duration of survival and they contribute in a big way as sources of data to the Corporate MIS. Therefore, their role is important and needs to be designed from the viewpoint as an interface to the Corporate MIS.
- d) Implementation of the Management Information System
The implementation of the system is a management process. It brings about organizational change; It affects people and changes their work style. The process evokes a behavior response which could be either favorable or unfavorable depending upon the strategy of system implementation.
In the process of implementation, the system designer acts as a change agent or a catalyst. For a successful implementation he has to handle the human factors carefully. The user of the system has a certain fear complex when a certain cultural work change is occurring. The first and the foremost fear are about the security to the person if the changeover from the old to new is not a smooth one. Care has to be taken to assure the user that such fears are baseless and the responsibility, therefore, rests with the designer. The second fear is about the role played by the person in the organization and how the change affects him. On many occasions, the new role may reduce his importance in the organization, the work design may make the new job impersonal, and a fear complex may get reinforced that the career prospects may be affected. There are certain guidelines for the systems designer for successful implementation of the system. The system designer should not question beyond a limit the information need of the user.
- Not to forget that his role is to offer a service and not to demand terms.
- Remember that the system design is for the use of the user and it is not the designer’s prerogative to dictate the design features. In short, the designer should respect the demands of the user.
- Not to mix up technical needs with the information needs. He should try to develop suitable design with appropriate technology to meet the information needs. The designer should not recommend modifications of the needs, unless technically infeasible.
- Impress upon the user the global nature of the system design which is required to meet the current and prospective information need.
- Not to challenge the application of the information in decision-making. It is the sole right of the user to use the information the way he thinks proper.
- Impress upon the user that the quality of information depends on the quality of input.
- Impress upon the user that you are one of the users in the organization and that the information is a corporate resource and he is expected to contribute to the development of the MIS.
- Ensure that the user makes commitment to all the requirements of the system design specifications. Ensure that he appreciates that his commitments contribute largely to the quality of the information and successful implementation of the system.
- Ensure that the overall system effort has the management’s acceptance.
- Enlist the user’s participation from time to time, so that he is emotionally involved in the process of development.
- Realize that through serving the user, he is his best guide on the complex path of development.
- Not to expect perfect understanding and knowledge from the user as he may be the user of a non-computerized system. Hence, the designer should be prepared to change the system specifications or even the design during the course of development.
- Impress upon the user that the change, which is easily possible in manual system, is not as easy in the computer system as it calls for changes in the programs at cost.
- Impress upon the user that perfect information is nonexistent; His role therefore still has an importance in the organization.
- Ensure that the other organization problems are resolved first before the MIS is taken for development.
- Conduct periodical user meetings on systems where you get the opportunity to know the ongoing difficulties of the users.
- Train the user in computer appreciation and systems analysis as his perception of the computerized information system will fall short of the designer’s expectation. Implementation of the MIS in an organization is a process where organizational transformation takes place. This change can occur in a number of ways. The Lewin’s model suggests three steps in this process. The first step is unfreezing the organization to make the people more receptive and interested in the change. The second step is choosing a course of action where the process begins and reaches the desired level of stability, and the third step is Refreezing, where the change is consolidated and equilibrium is reinforced. Many a times, this process is implemented through an external change agent, such as a consultant playing the role of a catalyst.
The significant problem in this task is the resistance to change. The resistance can occur due to three reasons, viz., the factors internal to the users of information, the factors inherent in the design of the system and the factors arising out of the interaction between the system and its users. The problem of resistance can be handled through education, persuasion, and participation. This can be achieved by improving the human actors, and providing incentives to the users, and eliminating the organizational problems before implementing the system.
Introduction to Systems Analysis
System analysis is the survey and planning of the project, the study and analysis of the existing business and information system and the definition of business requirements. System analysis involves two phases: study phase and definition phase.
Survey phase The purpose of the survey phase is to determine the worthiness of the project and to create a plan to complete those projects, deemed worthy. To accomplish the survey phase objectives, the system analyst will work with the system owner, system users, IS manager and IS staff to:
o Survey problems, opportunities and solutions
o Negotiate project scope
o Plan the project
o Present the project
System development cycle stages are sometimes known as system study. System concepts which are important in developing business information systems expedite problem solving and improve the quality of decision-making.
The system analyst has to do a lot in this connection. They are confronted with the challenging task of creating new systems and planning major changes in the organization. The system analyst gives a system development project, meaning and direction. The typical breakdown of an information systems life cycle includes a feasibility study, requirements, collection and analysis, design, prototyping, implementation, validation, testing and operation. It may be represented in the form of a block diagram as shown below:
a)Feasibility study It is concerned with determining the cost effectiveness of various alternatives in the designs of the information system and the priorities among the various system components.
- b) Requirements, collection and analysis It is concerned with understanding the mission of the information systems, that is, the application areas of the system within the enterprise and the problems that the system should solve.
- c) Design It is concerned with the specification of the information systems structure. There are two types of design: database design and application design. The database design is the design of the database design and the application design is the design of the application programs.
- d) Prototyping A prototype is a simplified implementation that is produced in order to verify in practice that the previous phases of the design were well conducted.
- e) Implementation It is concerned with the programming of the final operational version of the information system. Implementation alternatives are carefully verifies and compared.
- f) Validation and testing it is the process of assuring that each phase of the development process is of acceptable quality and is an accurate transformation from the previous phase.
Roles of Systems Analyst
System analysts are the facilitators of the study of the problem and needs of a business to determine how the business systems and information technology can best solve the problem and accomplish improvements for the business. The system analyst is responsible for examining the total flow of data throughout the organization.
Various aspects of an organization like personnel interactions and procedures for handling problems of the computer are studied by him. The person involved in the system development is known as system analyst. His main role is as consultant, supporting and maintenance expert, he should work with a cross section of people and should have the experience of working with computers. He is a problem solver and takes problem as a challenge and enjoys meeting challenges. He knows how to use the right tools, techniques and experience at the right time.
Feasibility of Systems
Feasibility is a measure of how beneficial the development of an information system would be to an organization. Feasibility analysis is the activity by which the feasibility is measured. Feasibility study is a preliminary study which investigates the information needs of prospective users and determines the resource requirements, costs, benefits and feasibility of a proposed project. The data is first collected for the feasibility study. Later on, the findings of the study are formalized in a written report that includes preliminary specifications and a development plan for the proposed system. If the management approves these recommendations of the report the development process can continue.
Types of feasibility
The goal of feasibility study is to evaluate alternative systems and to propose the most feasible and desirable system for development. The feasibility of a proposed system can be evaluated in four major categories:
- a) Technical feasibility: It is a measure of a technology’s suitability to the application being designed or the technology’s ability to work with other technologies. It measures the practicality of a specified technical solution.
- b) Economic feasibility: It is the measure of the cost effectiveness of a project. It is also known as cost benefit analysis.
- c) Operational feasibility: It is a measure of how comfortable the management and users are with the technology.
- d) Schedule feasibility: It is a measure of how reasonable the project schedule is.
Data flow diagrams represent the logical flow of data within the system. DFD do not explain how the processes convert the input data into output. They do not explain how the processing takes place.
DFD uses few symbols like circles and rectangles connected by arrows to represent data flows. DFD can easily illustrate relationships among data, flows, external entities and stores. DFD can also be drawn in increasing levels of detail, starting with a summary high level view and proceeding o more detailed lower level views.
A number of guidelines should be used in constructing DFD.
- Choose meaningful names for the symbols on the diagram.
- Number the processes consistently. The numbers do not imply the sequence.
- Avoid over complex DFD.
- Make sure the diagrams are balanced
The data dictionary is used to create and store definitions of data, location, format for storage and other characteristics. The data dictionary can be used to retrieve the definition of data that has already been used in an application. The data dictionary also stores some of the description of data structures, such as entities, attributes and relationships. It can also have software to update itself and to produce reports on its contents and to answer some of the queries.
Introduction to SD
The business application system demands designing of systems suitable to the application in project. The major steps involved in the design are the following:
Input Design Input design is defined as the input requirement specification as per a format required. Input design begins long before the data arrives at the device. The analyst will have to design source documents, input screens and methods and procedures for getting the data into the computer.
Output Design – The design of the output is based on the requirement of the user –manager, customer etc. The output formats have to very friendly to the user. Therefore the designer has to ensure the appropriateness of the output format.
Development – When the design and its methodology are approved, the system is developed using appropriate business models. The development has to be in accordance to a given standard. The norms have to be strictly adhered to.
Testing Exhaustive and thorough testing must be conducted to ascertain whether the system produces the right results. Testing is time consuming: Test data must be carefully prepared, results reviewed and corrections made in the system. In some instances, parts of the system may have to be redesigned. Testing an information system can be broken down into three types of activities: unit testing, system testing and acceptance test. Unit testing or program testing consists of testing each program separately in the system. The purpose of such testing is to guarantee that programs are error free, but this goal is realistically impossible. Instead, testing should be viewed as a means of locating errors in programs, focusing on finding all ways to make a program fail. Once pinpointed, problems can be corrected. System testing tests the functioning of the information system as a whole. It tries to determine if discrete modules will function together as planned and whether discrepancies exist between the way the system actually works and the way it was conceived. Among the areas examined are performance time, capacity for file storage and handling peak loads, recovery and restart capabilities and manual procedures. Acceptance testing provides the final certification that the system is ready to be used in a production setting. Systems tests are evaluated by users and reviewed by management. When all parties are satisfied that the new system meets their standards, the system is formally accepted for installation.
Implementation and Maintenance
Conversion is the process of changing from the old system to the new system. Four main conversion strategies can be employed. They are the parallel strategy, the direct cutover strategy, the pilot strategy and the phased strategy.
In a parallel strategy both the old system and its potential replacement are run together for a time until everyone is assure that the new one functions correctly. This is the safest conversion approach because, in the event of errors or processing disruptions, the old system can still be used as a backup. But, this approach is very expensive, and additional staff or resources may be required to run the extra system. The direct cutover strategy replaces the old system entirely with the new system on an appointed day. At first glance, this strategy seems less costly than the parallel conversion strategy. But, it is a very risky approach that can potentially be more costly than parallel activities if serious problems with the new system are found. There is no other system to fall back on. Dislocations, disruptions and the cost of corrections are enormous.
The pilot study strategy introduces the new system to only a limited area of the organization, such as a single department or operating unit. When this version is complete and working smoothly, it is installed throughout the rest of the organization, either simultaneously or in stages.
The phased approach strategy introduces the new system in stages, either by functions or by organizational units. If, for example, the system is introduced by functions, a new payroll system might begin with hourly workers who are paid weekly, followed six months later by adding salaried employees( who are paid monthly) to the system. If the system is introduced by organizational units, corporate headquarters might be converted first, followed by outlying operating units four months later.
Moving from an old system to a new system requires that end users be trained to use the new system. Detailed documentation showing how the system works from both a technical and end-user standpoint is finalized during conversion time for use in training and everyday operations. Lack of proper training and documentation contributes to system failure, so this portion of the systems development process is very important.
Production and maintenance
After the new system is installed and conversion is complete, the system is said to be in production. During this stage the system will be reviewed by both users and technical specialists to determine how well it has met its original objectives and to decide whether any revisions or modifications are in order. In some instances, a formal post implementation audit document will be prepared. After the system has been fine-tuned, it will need to be maintained while it is in production to correct errors, meet requirements or improve processing efficiency.
Once a system is fully implemented and is being used in business operations, the maintenance function begins. Systems maintenance is the monitoring, or necessary improvements. For example, the implementation of a new system usually results in the phenomenon known as the learning curve. Personnel who operate and use the system will make mistake simply because they are familiar with it. Though such errors usually diminish as experience is gained with a new system, they do point out areas where a system may be improved.
Maintenance is also necessary for other failures and problems that arise during the operation of a system. End-users and information systems personnel then perform a troubleshooting function to determine the causes of and solutions to such problems.
Maintenance also includes making modifications to an established system due to changes in the business organizations, and new e-business and ecommerce initiatives may require major changes to current business systems.