Blog 3 – Requirements Engineering

 

Requirements Engineering

The previous blog we spoke of information systems and how important they were to the modern business organizations. Information systems are designed to do specific task and different business organizations use different information systems to do this. In this blog we will look at the different aspects which go into designing a functional information system.

What is requirement engineering?

Requirements engineering is a strategic process which involves the client and the developer discussing the purpose, capabilities and functionality of a specific requirements 1information system before being designed. During requirements engineering we determine the user expectations in a very quantifiable and relevant method. The developer draws up the blueprints and ideas based on the findings in requirements engineering, in order to tailor an effective information system according to the customer’s expectation.

“Requirements are a specification of what should be implemented. They are descriptions of how the system should behave, or of a system property or attribute. They may be a constraint on the development process of the system” (Wiegers, 2000).

Requirements engineering comprises of five important phases which are very essential for understanding the client’s needs.

Requirements management – in this phase the team will coordinate, schedule and document all the engineering activities such as elicitation, analysis, specification and verification.

Requirements elicitation – it’s the process clearly identifying the clients requirements by discovering and analyzing the user’s needs based on interviews, questionnaires and other auditing standards.

Requirements analysis – in this phase you further refine your findings in requirements elicitation to polish out the minor discrepancies.

Requirements specification – in this phase the client’s needs and constraints are documented clearly and precisely.

Requirements verification – in this phase the engineering team ensures that they have all the required information in a clear, complete and consistent manner.

A successful completion of requirements engineering based on the above five phases will give the system developer a very cut through picture of the systems demands and its purpose. The client’s inputs will also go a long way into developing an effective system.

As stated above requirements engineering is a very essential part of developing a good system, but at the same time even after requirements engineering some systems fail to achieve their purpose. Some of the lead causes for such systems to fail are:

  • Incomplete requirements.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • Changing requirements / specification.
  • Other issues.

Keys to a good requirement engineering strategy

Extensive user involvement – it is very important the users of the system are directly involved in the requirement engineering phase as they are direct stakeholders of the system. A clear perspective from the users of the system will determine the essential attributes of the system. Different user level feedback will enable the developing team to tackle the issues in many different ways which can be very essential in designing an effective information system.

Prioritizing requirements – fulfilling the client’s principal requirements is very important, hence prioritizing the clients specific requirements will enable the team to distinctively work on the specifics.

Clear requirement specification – as stated above requirement specification is one of the phases in requirements engineering. It’s also the stage at which majority of the documentation is done. Clear documentation is important as it’s the only form resource which developers can go back for reference, there documentation must be done in very good narrative English with the use of diagrams and charts to give the most effective output in terms of findings after requirements engineering.

Use component based architecture – design and facilitate the system in a stage by stage process with the involvement of the stake holders. This can be a very tedious and time consuming task but it’s a worthwhile process. The advantage of approaching the developed system in a stage by stage basis with the feedback of the users will enable the team to tackle and address all the issues at the initial stages itself, thus avoiding disappointments after the final product is delivered.

A good information system is a key to successful business; an efficiently designed system will have a significant impact on how well the good information system will function. Requirements engineering will always be an essential key strategic aspect in achieving a very functional and user friendly information system, hence must be given greatest of priorities and should be handled by a highly trained professionals who have been in the business long enough to understand all the different aspects of requirements engineering.

References

Wiegers, K. E., (2000). When Telepathy Won’t Do: Requirements Engineering Key Practices. Retrieved on May 11, 2016 from http://www.processimpact.com/articles/telepathy.html

 

Blog 2 – Information Systems

 

Information Systems

Information systems are an integral part of any IT based system in use. Information systems are basically computer based tools which are used for collecting, storing and processing data.  These systems are widely used in all sectors of different business around the world. The use of information systems enable businesses to quickly process data and provide solutions or information as required. A simple information system cycle looks like as shown below.

IS chart

Information systems are used for many different purposes within an organization itself. An organization determines the different types of information system required by identifying and classifying all the processes and nature of the business. Most organizations have 4 tier information systems which consist of the following tiers:

  • Tier 1 – Transaction Processing System (TPS)
  • Tier 2 – Management Information System (MIS)
  • Tier 3 – Decision Support System (DSS)
  • Tier 4 – Executive Information System (EIS)

Theses 4 tiers are essential in categorizing the different types of data each information system will process.

Transaction processing systems are mostly used by the daily workers in an organization as it handles the daily operations of a business; the data is obtained through low level activities and basic transactions. Some examples of TPS are payroll systems, order processing systems, reservation systems and stock control systems.

Management information systems are analytical tools which help middle level managers to analyze and evaluate the data for a smooth running of the organization. Sekhar (2007) defined management information system as “a system that collects and process data (information) and provides it to managers at all levels, who use it for decision making, planning, program implementation and control”. These systems are able compare and produce reports based on past and current outputs. Some examples of MIS are sales management system, budgeting systems, inventory control systems and personnel (HRM) systems.

Decision support systems are basically knowledge based system which enables senior level officials and managers in an organization to make executive decisions which are beneficial for the business. DIS use existing structured information to analyze and project the effects of any potential decisions made. These systems are mostly used to forecast and predict future outputs bases on “what if” situations, which allows organizations to produce calculated reports and graphs which aid in executive decision making. Some examples of DIS are Logistics systems, financial planning systems and group decision support system (GDSS).

Executive information systems are strategic-level information systems which aids high level officials and business owners to take decisions and analyze the environment in which the organization operates. EIS allows business owners to identify trends and plan an appropriate course of action for the future goals of the organization. Executive information systems are always tailored to the preferences of the individuals using them; hence they are operated directly by the executives without the need for any intermediaries. Small businesses buy EIS off the shelf and customize it to their needs.

Importance of Information Systems

Effective information systems are a very vital to businesses as good information systems provides an ideal framework for businesses to evaluate and identify their strategies in respect to the four key company dimensions of people, process, culture and infrastructure. In modern organizations information is available in many forms, but it is important that the right information is provided to make effective decisions and this is where information management systems come into play.

Information management systems are used in organizations to make relevant information readily available in a precise and comprehensive format. According to Langemo (1980) information management is “organization-wide capability of creating, maintaining, retrieving and making immediately available the right information, in the right place, at the right time, in hands of the right people, at the lowest cost, in the best media, for use in decision making.”

Some benefits of having a good information management system are as follows:

  • Control the creation and growth of records.
  • Reduce operating cost.
  • Improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Minimize litigation risk.
  • To protect and safeguard vital information.
  • Support management decision making.

The use of information systems and information management systems to handle information is a very tedious task, but it’s a very integral aspect of the modern organization. Many studies and research is conducted into how effectively information can be handled. The new principals and theories of information systems will continuously keep evolving and will be implemented into modern day business practices so that businesses benefit from it.

Please watch the video below to better understand the importance and functions of information management systems in organizations.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiLXJ0lhN2g

References

Sekhar, G. V. S., (2007), Management Information System (1st ed.) (pp.310). New Delhi: Excel Books.

Langemo, M. (1980), Records management/word processing – a needed team effort, Records Management Quarterly, 14(4), 10-14.

Blog 1 – Digital Era

Digital Era

Be-a-Leader-in-the-Digital-EraInformation technology has changed the way we work and do things in the modern days; hence it is the times of change or some call it the digital revolution. The best phrase to describe the time we live in is “Digital Era”. Human lives are highly influenced by technology these days and it’s all due to innovations and great digital systems which were brought about in the digital era. The digital era is redefining the way how humans did work in the past. The introduction of digital systems made most of the human work to be automated and since then humans have become highly dependent on technology. Through innovation a lot of automated systems have been integrated into our day to day lives, from traffic control systems to simple IT based systems in your neighborhood grocery store. It is highly likely that most people would have come across some form of IT based systems in the last 15 years. What was once available to only a few is now available to everyone in some form, ranging from smart phones, tablets, laptops to cloud computing, the digital era has a opened a new gateway for many great things to enrich the human lives.

Digital era has been a stepping stone for many new businesses to be established and it’s been an open forum for wealth creation, entertainment and toppling governments. Social media has been a key forte of the digital era. The rise of social media has made some of the most significant changes this world is seeing now. Through social media people have discovered a new medium to stay connected with people; this meant that people in any part of the world could now become friends and create relationships which are forged over digital interaction. Social media has been a major platform in aiding some of the biggest political changes this world has seen in the recent past years.  Introduction of social media changed the major strategies of marketing in the digital era; marketing has been so effective and influential with the use of social media. “The advent of technology and the rise of social media in the Digital Age have changed the way that consumers receive marketing messages and perceive advertisements” (Stephen Hollowell, 2014). Financial institutions and banking sectors are becoming highly dependent upon effective technologies to server customers effectively and efficiently. Digital simulations are used to project economic growth and predict future stock prices all with the aid of sophisticated applications which were tailored for special purposes in the digital era.

Digital era has redefined how people use technology in the 21st century, but it also has its drawbacks which are equally adverse. “The very same technological advancements that have defined the times also pose serious threats to our personal privacy and information security” (Shilling, 2011). Misuse of technology can do serious damage to an individual or an organization. Whenever people access the internet or applications which are connected, a digital trail is always created. Digital trails are background files which contain sensitive information, these files can be retrieved and misused by individuals. Companies and top tier firms invest heavily on cyber security and data protection to protect the details of their customers and their organization. These precautionary measures are an additional cost for organizations if they were to make the transition into the computer automation and digital environment.

The digital era is the modern industrial revolution; much technological advancement came about during this time which has aided human lives in the 21st century. The digital era will only keep getting better with time.

References

Hollowell, S. (6 May, 2014). Word-f-mouth marketing in the Digital Age. Retrieved on March 11, 2016, from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/word-mouth-marketing-digital-age.

Shilling, C. G., (2011). Privacy and Data Security: New Challenges of the Digital Age. Retrieved on March 11, 2016 from https://www.nhbar.org/uploads/pdf/bj-summer2011-vol52-no2-pg28.pdf