Archive | January, 2013

Onwards and Upwards; Trends in IS

31 Jan

Information systems and technologies have become a vital component of successful businesses and organisations. An information system is a set of interrelated components that collect, retrieve, process, store and distribute information to support decision-making and control in an organisation. It is made up of data, hardware, software, telecommunications networks as well as people.

There are two types of information systems;  operations support systems and management support systems.

Operation support systems include Transaction Processing System (TPS), Enterprise Collaboration Systems and Process Control Systems. Management support systems include Management Information Systems (MIS), Decision Support Systems (DSS) and Executive Support Systems (ESS).

Information is a vital commodity for successful organisations in today’s world. Modern business organisation use computerised information systems  to acquire information. However, technology is rapidly advancing and a main issue that arises is how management can use these IS systems to improve the whole organisation and make the most out of it.

The recent integration of computer networks and on-line data exchange has allowed for the creation of common databases and cloud computing not only in businesses but also among governments. This in turn created new possibilities such as allowing organisations to develop new practices such as Just-In-Time production. An example  can be can be viewed here.

Nowadays, the role of IS in companies is shifting to support business processes rather than just individual functions. The focus is now on customers rather than internal procedures. This creates a challenge to existing information systems which are not always structured to meet these needs. It could also create problems for those who design and use these systems as they may not be appropriately trained.

Trends in Information Systems-Its use across all sectors

31 Jan

In order to look at the trends in information systems it is important to firstly look at what is an information system and what value does it have in modern organisations. Information Systems are a combination of people, data , process, information technology and information presentation and these elements interact to improve all aspects of an organisations . Information systems play a vital role in all organisations, from a day to day basis using Transaction Processing  Systems to strategic level decisions using an Executive Support System(ESS). Information systems are commonly used to achieve competitive advantage, secure customer intimacy, for improved decision making, to try out new models/products and for more or less survival in a modern business environment.

The role of information systems are now changing an there is more of a focus on customers as opposed to internal business procedures. Information systems are also now used in numerous different industries in order to improve efficiency across many sectors. For example, information systems are used across the health sector including Hospital Information System(HIS), Clinical Information System(CIS) and Patient Data Management Information System(PDMS). Information Systems are also being used across the banking sector, for example Data Mining and Data Warehousing. Riskompass has also being implemented across the banking sector in order to calculate risk and the Electronic Clearing Service which facilitates paperless transactions.( For more information regarding I.S in the Banking Sector see this interesting article http://www.scribd.com/doc/22553515/Management-Information-System-MIS-in-Banking-Sector

There is also an Geographic Information System(GIS) which is used to interpret data, trends etc and it offers huge benefits to the industry such as cost saving, increased efficiency and better record keeping. For more on its use in geography see the following link http://www.esri.com/what-is-gis. Information systems are also used in the steel industry, power industry and others. I believe the future of information systems will be in its use across all sectors, industries and organisations that will improve operations on a day to day basis and decision making.

Causes of Failure in IS

30 Jan

Failure is part of development and progression. Failure in Information Systems is caused by defects in the design, process or quality of the system. At the root of most of this failure is human error. Part of this is the fact that system analysts do not listen properly to the needs of the user as well as the user changing requirements. Often 20-50% of the original requirements change due to miscommunication between the two parties. One example is a system that was supposed to take only 3 months to implement; the project has now been ongoing for nearly 2 years just because the user keeps altering requirements. The aim of a systems analysts is to gather user requirements and turn those into working software. Gathering requirements requires an understanding of the organisation, of management and the information technology that is shaping the system. Difficulties can again arise here due to:

  • Complex problems
  • Unknown domains
  • Non-technical customers

30% of systems are cancelled before they are fully implemented and many are not even used once they are completed as they fail to provide the benefits expected. Worse than a killed project is a system that exceeds its budget – 51% of projects exceed budgetary limits by 189% but only deliver 74% of their functionally that is needed.

Flowcharts and Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) – An Introduction

30 Jan

A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents a process. These diagrams are step-by-step processes  which result in giving a solution to a problem. They always begin and end with an oval shaped symbol called a terminal. Then there’s a flow line which denoted the direction of the logic flow in the decision making process. Then there are parallelogram shaped symbols which show either an input or an output of the process. The rectangular shaped symbol denotes a process which is to be carried out and the diamond shape symbol denotes a decision to be made.

     This is an example of a very simple flowchart.

 

A Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) is a graphical way of representing the way in which data flows through an information system. The structured design can be used for the visualization of processing data. It shows the type of information that is used in a system through inputs and outputs, where the data comes from and goes to and where the data will be stored. Below is an example of a very simple DFD.

Data Flow Model Diagram

Developing and Purchasing Information Systems

30 Jan

Information Systems are usually developed through the System Development Life-cycle (SDLC). This is seen as a very methodological and structured way of developing information systems. There are five stages in developing an information system: planning, analysis, design, implementation and maintenance.  Each phase has key deliverables which the system analysts hope to achieve.

What is an Information System?

30 Jan

An information system collects, retrieves, processes, stores and distributes information to benefit an organisation.

The five basic subsets of an information system (people, data, processes, information technology and information presentation) interact to support the day-to-day operations of a business as well as supporting users and management in making decisions and solving problems.

To use it effectively though, you need to have an understanding of the management, the organisation and the technology that shapes the system. Knowing these things can mean the difference between success and failure for an organisation.

SDLC

29 Jan

SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. It is very important in IS as it breaks down the cycles of software development. SDLC is a process of creating or changing Information Systems and the way that people use to develop these systems. The main functions of the life cycle are to develop, maintain and replace Information Systems. SDLC can be used for a number of things e.g. to improve existing systems. There are 5 main phases of SDLC which are Planning, Analysis, Design, Implementation and Maintenance. SDLC helps us to understand the development of software more clearly.

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