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8 Steps to information systems happiness!!

10 Mar

Todays news is filled with stories of unaccomplished enterprise applications. Corporations sometimes blame the software companies for these uncompleted systems, but is it their fault? No! The blame lies with those corporations who did not follow the basic procedure before planning on introducing a new information system to the company. However, whats important here is not who’s to blame, but how to avoid something similar happening to you!

As you plan on introducing your own information systems architecture, first follow these steps that will take you through the process of creating a “system of systems” that can meet the current and future needs of any company, regardless of size or industry!

1. Define your business objectives: first step in developing and IS architecture is asking yourself “for what purpose does this company exist?”. find out who you are producing goods/services for, and why you are doing this.

2. Determine market challenges: no company operates in a perfect world. Every business must overcome many market challenges, and key issues need to be viewed from a number of perspectives. For example, packaging problems need to be examined from the suppliers, producers and the customers point of view. The conclusion of this will have a significant impact on how the supporting IS will be developed.

3. Create Business Structures: This challenge should be viewed from the perspevtive of the 4 P’s of marketing, to clarify that different internal groups, and their IS’s will have different goals, and objectives.

4. Map Business Procedures: once all business procedures have been evaluated, they must be mapped. Tools such as Vision are readily available to aid in this mapping. The Supply Chain Council’s Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model also is a helpful tool. The model defines the major operations within the demand fulfillment structure—Plan, Source, Make, Deliver—and breaks them down into subsequent levels of detail that can be assembled based on a particular company’s specific activities and processes.

5. Determine critical success factors: By defining the company’s process requirements in relation to the business structures they support, and bringing in senior functional managers from across the business,  it is possible to identify the overall critical success factors (CSF) for the company to achieve profitable growth.

6. Calculate overall return on investment: Managers could be asked to ascertain the financial performance which they feel could be realistically achieved in the tools, technology and the information systems were available.

7. Develop a demand management system architecture: 

All previous steps culminate in the intelligent Demand Management System architecture required for any company to achieve its business objectives, taking into consideration its business processes, structures, functional silos, and behaviors. Clearly, a lot of different and best-of-breed technologies would have to be deployed from different vendors to meet the company’s business objectives, as no vendor or application was up to the task.

8. Vendor Selection and Implementation: This involves analyising the results from all the previous steps, and implementing the resulting information system.  Using the resulting information systems architecture as a roadmap,any company will be able to prioritize the rollout of the different applications comprising its enterprise solution. In addition, they should be able to negotiate a unique deal with the ERP vendor selected as the “backbone” to its architecture.



Creator of the SDLC

5 Mar


So I’ve noticed that the majority of the blogs revolve around where the types of IS’s and how they work etc etc. I thought that for my blog today, I would discuss Winston Royce and Dr. Barry Boehm, without whom, we wouldn’t be writing these blogs, as the Software Development Life Cycle would not exist! 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

In 1970, Winston W. Boyce conceived the SDLC as an aid to programming, with 2 stages of analysis and coding.

Boyce was born in the 1920s in America, and he was a computer scientist. Boyce was director of the Lockheed Software Technology Center in Austin, Texas.He was also one of the leaders in Software Development in the later half of the 20th Century. He was the first person to describe the Waterfall model in his 1970 paper entitled Managing the Development of Large Software Systems. Although he never once used the term “waterfall”, the paper did include a graphic image depicting progress through process phases that certainly resembled a waterfall. Without this development, modern system analysis and design would not be as efficient as it is.

As I mentioned above, Boyce was born in 1929 in America. He also had a keen interest in science and the development of technology throughout his life. He studied at the Californian Institute of Technology, and he received a BS in Physics, an MS in Aeronautical Engineering, as well as a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering. He worked for over 35 years in management, engineering, research and teaching, before passing away in his home in Clifton, Virginia on the 7th June, 1995. For his work, Boyce received the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr Barry Boehm expanded on Boyce’s work, and he listed a number of the main phases of software development in 1974. Boehm was born in 1935, and similar to Boyce, also showed a key interest in software development and science. He received a BA, a MS and a PhD all in Mathematics in Harvard, and UCLA.

In an important 1973 report entitled “Ada – The Project : The DoD High Order Language Working Group” to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Boehm predicted that software costs would overwhelm hardware costs. The Agency had expected him to predict that hardware would remain the biggest problem, encouraging them to invest in even larger computers. The report inspired a change of direction in computing.

One of Boehm’s most important discovery was that of the Spiral Model of Software Development. In this method, the phases of development of repeatedly revisited.  This, in turn, influenced Extreme Programming.


Information Systems in Developing Countries

28 Feb

Information systems have often been addressed with the question of whether they were relevant to developing countries- this has since been answered with a clear yes answer. The IS in question in this article was in relation to Information & Communication Technologies, or ICT’s. The question is now not whether or not they are relevant, but rather if they are beneficial. These information systems have high potential value across all sectors, in both public and private enterprises. Even in health delivery in rural villages, particularly in developing countries.

However, the implementation of these information systems have not always been successful, especially due to the lack of technology and access to these systems. Also, people in developing countries also tend to be unable to use this technology, even if they are lucky enough to have access to it.

Challenges to ICT’s in developing countries include:

  • Promoting cross-cultural working: this mentioned the difficulty in online communication when working with different cultures; those in developing countries. It also addressed the issue of avoiding the culturally inappropriate imposition of IS-some cultures prefer physical and personal communication.
  • Local adaptation and cultivation: trying to introduce the IS to rural villages and making it relevant to the needs of the communities.
  • Focusing on particular groups: While there are some software experts in developing countries such as India, they are still may find it hard to come to terms with the new technology that developed countries may be using.

To successfully introduce information systems to Developing countries and to ensure they create benefits, these issues must be addressed



Types of SDLC-Agile Development

25 Feb

There are many different types of software development life-cylces, and these methods are broken into two categories: traditional, and agile methods. Traditional methods include the the waterfall and spiral model, and agile methods include extreme programming (XP), scrum, and feature driven development.

IS projects fail due to lack of sponsor involvement and poor planning. In fact, 30-40% of projects fail prior to completion. These failed projects cost the US $100 billion dollars per year.

Agile development looks to change these figures, as some people may feel that the more traditional methods are “useless”, and they leave “little room for change”.

Agile software is a possible solution; as it aims to develop software in iterations which last 1-4 weeks; each of which can be seen as mini software projects.

Between the 11th and the 13th of February 2011, the Agile Alliance formed and produced a Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This includes:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over rigid contracts
  • Responding to change over following a plan



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.

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