Posted: January 25, 2011 in PRELIM

Understanding Organizational style & its impact on information systems

Key Points and Objectives

1.     Organizations – complex systems composed of interrelated and interdependent subsystems.

2.     Both System and subsystem boundaries and environments impact on information system analysis and design.

3.     Systems are classified as either open, with free flowing information, or closed with restricted access to information.

4.     A virtual organization has parts of the organization in different physical locations.  They use computer networks and communications technology to work on projects. The advantages of a virtual organization are:

A. Reduced costs of physical facilities

B. More rapid response to customer needs

C. Flexibility for employees to care for children or aging parents

5.     Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an integrated organizational information system.  The software helps the flow of information between the functional areas within the organization.

6.     A Context-level Data Flow Diagram is an analysis tool for showing data used and information produced by a system.  It provides an overview of the setting or environment the system exists within: which entities supply and receive data/information.

7.     Entity-relationship diagrams (ERD) help the analyst understand the organizational system and the data stored by the organization.

8.     There are three types of entities:

A. Fundamental entity, describing a person, place or thing

B. Associative entity (also called a gerund, junction, intersection or concatenated entity), joining two   entities.  It can only exist between two entities.

C. Attributive entity, to describe attributes and repeating groups.

9.     Relationships may be shown with a zero or circle representing none, a vertical line representing one, or crow’s foot representing many and can be:

A. One to one

B. One to many

C. Many to many

10.   A use case diagram reflects the view of the system from the perspective of a user outside of the system.

11.   A use case model partitions the way the system works into behaviors, services, and responses that are significant to the users of the system.

12.   A use case diagram has symbols for:

A. An actor – the role of a user of the system

B. A use case –  representing a sequence of transactions in a system

13.   There are two kinds of use cases.

A. Primary, the standard flow of events within a system that describe a standard system behavior.

B. Use case scenarios that describe variations of the primary use case.

14.   There are four active behavioral relationships:

A. Communicates, is used to connect an actor to a use case.

B. Includes, describes the situation where a use case contains a behavior that is common to more than one use case.

C. Extends, describes the situation where one use case possesses the behavior that allows the new use case to handle a variation or exception.

D. Generalizes, implies that one thing is more typical than the other thing.

15.   The steps required to create a use case model are:

A. Review the business specifications and identify the actors within the problem domain.

B. Identify the high-level events and develop the primary use cases that describe the events and how actors initiate them.

C. Review each primary use case to determine possible variations of flow through the use case.

D. Develop the use case documents for all primary use cases and all important use case scenarios.

16.   Use case scenarios are text descriptions of the use case, and may contain the following:

A. The use case name.

B. The area of the business.

C. The actors.

D. A brief description of the use case.

E. The triggering event

F.  The type of trigger, either external or temporal.

G. The steps performed for the use case.

H. Preconditions, what must have occurred before the use case can start to execute.

I.  Postconditions or what has been accomplished by the use case.

J.  Assumptions that have been made for the use case to execute.

K. Requirements met by the use case.

L. Any outstanding issues.

M.            An optional priority.

N. An optional risk.

17.   Use cases are helpful because they:

A.    Effectively communicate systems requirements.

B.    Allow people to tell stories.

C.    Make sense to nontechnical people.

D.    Do not depend on a special language.

E.    Can describe functional requirements.

F.     Can describe nonfunctional requirements.

G.    Help analysts define boundaries.

H.    Can be traceable, allowing analysts to identify links between use cases and other design and documentation tools.

18.   The three levels of managerial control are:

A.    Operations management

B.    Middle management

C.    Strategic management

19.   Each of the three levels of management, different organization structure, leadership style, technological considerations, organization culture, and human interaction all carry implications for the analysis and design of information systems.

Answers to Review Questions (page 52)

1. What are the three groups of organizational fundamentals that carry implications for the development of information systems?

The three groups of organizational fundamentals include:

A.        level of management

B.         design of organizations

C.         other factors–leadership style, technology, and organizational subcultures.

2. What is meant by saying that organizational subsystems are interrelated and interdependent?

Organizational subsystems are said to be interrelated and interdependent when a change in one subsystem affects other subsystems.

3. Define the term organizational boundary.

Organizational boundary – separates the system from its environment.

4. What are the two main purposes for feedback in organizations?

Two main purposes of feedback are: (a) system control and (b) formulating and revising organizational goals.

5. Define openness in an organizational environment.

Openness – refers to an organization with a relatively free flow of information within its boundaries.

6. Define closedness in an organizational environment.

Closedness – refers to an organization with relatively little flow of information within its boundaries.

7. What is the difference between a traditional organization and a virtual one?

A traditional organization is one that has a physical location, whereas a virtual organization has parts of the organization in different locations, connected electronically.

8. What are the potential benefits and a drawback of a virtual organization?

The benefits of a virtual organization are: reduced costs of physical facilities, a more rapid response to customer needs and flexibility for employees to care for children or aging parents.  A drawback is that it is difficult to meet the social needs of virtual workers.

9. Give an example of how systems analysts could work with users as a virtual team.

The example provided in the text allows the analyst to see the software and hardware configuration of the user requesting help.

10. What is ERP, and what is its purpose?

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a system that is usually purchased from outside vendors and customized to fit the requirements of a particular company.  Its purpose is to help the flow of information between the functional areas of an organization.

11. What problems do analysts often encounter when they try to implement an ERP package?

The problems that the analyst encounters when trying to implement an ERP package are the difficulty of trying to analyze a system currently in use and then fit an ERP model to the system.  Another problem is that the business model does not always match the ERP functionality.  The impact is delayed implementation, higher costs and the loss of user confidence.

12. What are the two symbols on a use case diagram and what do they represent?

A) Actor – the role of a user of the system

B) Use case – representing a sequence of transactions in a system.

13. What is a use case scenario?

A use case scenario is a text description of the flow of events in a use case.  There may be alternate scenarios representing conditions that produce variations on the primary scenario.

14. What are the three main parts of a use case scenario?

A) The use case identifiers and initiators;

B) the steps performed;

C) the conditions, assumptions and questions.

15. What does a process represent on a context-level data flow diagram?

A process represents the entire system on a context-level data flow diagram.

16. What is an entity on a data flow diagram?

An entity on a data flow diagram represents an entity that supplies and receives information that is outside of the system.

17. What is meant by the term entity-relationship diagram?

An entity-relationship diagram is a graphical depiction of organizational system elements and the association among the elements.

18. What symbols are used to draw E-R diagrams?

The three symbols used for E-R diagrams are (1) rectangle-to show the entity, (2) diamond in a rectangle – to join two many-to-many entities, and (3) oval in a rectangle to represent an attribute, especially a repeating group.

19. List the types of E-R diagrams.

The following are types of E-R Diagrams:

A.        one-to-one relationship

B.         one-to-many relationship

C.         many-to-one relationship

D.        many-to-many relationship

20. How do an entity, an associative entity, and an attributive entity differ?

An entity represents a person, place or thing.  An associative entity can only join two fundamental entities.  An attributive entity is used to represent an attribute of an entity, often a repeating group, and cannot exist without being linked to a fundamental entity.

21. List the three broad, horizontal levels of management in organizations.

The three levels of management in organizations are (a) operations management, (b) middle management, and (c) strategic management.


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