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CHAPTER 1 AN INFORMATION SYSTEMS FRAMEWORK

THE INFORMATION SYSTEM


The information system is the set of formal procedures
by which data are collected, processed into information,
and distributed to users.

A transaction is an event that affects or is of interest to


the organization and is processed by its information
system as a unit of work.

Transactions fall into two classes:

 A financial transaction is an economic event


that affects the assets and equities of the
organization, is reflected in its accounts, and is
WHAT IS A SYSTEM? measured in monetary terms.
 Nonfinancial transactions are events that do
Elements of a System not meet the narrow definition of a financial
transaction.
A system is a group of two or more interrelated
components or subsystems that serve a common The Accounting Information System
purpose.
AIS subsystems process financial transactions and
 MULTIPLE COMPONENTS. A system must nonfinancial transactions that directly affect the
contain more than one part processing of financial transactions.
 RELATEDNESS. A common purpose relates the
multiple parts of the system
 SYSTEM VERSUS SUBSYSTEM. A system is called
a subsystem when it is viewed in relation to the
larger system of which it is a part. Likewise, a
subsystem is called a system when it is the
focus of attention.
 PURPOSE. A system must serve at least one
purpose, but it may serve several.

Two points are illustrated of particular importance to


the study of information systems:

 SYSTEM DECOMPOSITION. Decomposition is the


process of dividing the system into smaller
subsystem parts.
 SUBSYSTEM INTERDEPENDENCY. A system’s
ability to achieve its goal depends on the
effective functioning and harmonious The AIS is composed of three major subsystems:
interaction of its subsystems.
 the transaction processing system (TPS), which
supports daily business operations with
numerous reports, documents, and messages
for users throughout the organization
 the general ledger/financial reporting system A GENERAL MODEL FOR AIS
(GL/FRS), which produces the traditional
financial statements
 the management reporting system (MRS),
which provides internal management with
special-purpose financial reports and
information needed for decision making such as
budgets, variance reports, and responsibility
reports.

The management information system (MIS) processes


nonfinancial transactions that are not normally
processed by traditional AIS. End Users
Transaction Processing System Fall into two general groups:
The TPS is central to the overall function of the
 External users include creditors, stockholders,
information system by converting economic events into
potential investors, regulatory agencies, tax
financial transactions, recording financial transactions in
authorities, suppliers, and customers.
the accounting records (journals and ledgers), and
 Internal users include management at every
distributing essential financial information to operations
level of the organization, as well as operations
personnel to support their daily operations. The TPS
personnel.
deals with business events that occur frequently.
DATA VERSUS INFORMATION.
The TPS consists of three transaction cycles: the
revenue cycle, the expenditure cycle, and the  Data are facts, which may or may not be
conversion cycle. processed (edited, summarized, or refined) and
have no direct effect on the user.
General Ledger/Financial Reporting Systems
 Information causes the user to take an action
Two closely related subsystems. However, because of that he or she otherwise could not, or would
their operational interdependency, they are generally not, have taken. Information is often defined
viewed as a single integrated system—the GL/FRS. simply as processed data.

The bulk of the input to the GL portion of the system Data Sources
comes from the transaction cycles. Summaries of
Financial transactions that enter the information system
transaction cycle activity are processed by the GLS to
from both internal and external sources.
update the general ledger control accounts.
 External financial transactions are the most
The FRS measures and reports the status of financial
common source of data for most organizations.
resources and the changes in those resources. The FRS
These are economic exchanges with other
communicates this information primarily to external
business entities and individuals outside the
users. This type of reporting is called nondiscretionary
firm.
because the organization has few or no choices in the
 Internal financial transactions involve the
information it provides.
exchange or movement of resources within the
Management Reporting System organization.

Provides the internal financial information needed to


manage a business.
Data Collection DATABASE MANAGEMENT TASKS.

The first operational stage in the information system.  Storage


o Storage task assigns keys to new
Objective: to ensure that event data entering the
records and stores them in their proper
system are valid, complete, and free from material
location in the database.
errors.
 Retrieval
The most important stage in the system. o The task of locating and extracting an
existing record from the database for
Two rules govern the design of data collection processing.
procedures:  Deletion
o The task of permanently removing
 Relevance
obsolete or redundant records from the
 Efficiency
database.
Data Processing
Information Generation
Data usually require processing to produce information.
The process of compiling, arranging, formatting, and
Tasks in the data processing stage range from simple to
presenting information to users.
complex.
 RELEVANCE.
Database Management
o contents of a report or document must
serve a purpose
 TIMELINESS.
o The age of information is a critical
factor in determining its usefulness.
Information must be no older than the
time of the action it supports.
 ACCURACY.
o Information must be free from material
errors. Material error exists when the
amount of inaccuracy in information
causes the user to make poor decisions
or to fail to make necessary decisions.
The organization’s database is its physical repository for
financial and nonfinancial data.  COMPLETENESS.
o No piece of information essential to a
DATA ATTRIBUTE. The most elemental piece of decision or task should be missing.
potentially useful data in the database. An attribute is a  SUMMARIZATION.
logical and relevant characteristic of an entity about o Information should be aggregated in
which the firm captures data. accordance with the user’s needs.

RECORD. A complete set of attributes for a single Feedback


occurrence within an entity class.
A form of output that is sent back to the system as a
FILES. a complete set of records of an identical class. source of data. Feedback may be internal or external
and is used to initiate or alter a process.
Information System Objectives Materials Management

 To support the stewardship function of To plan and control the materials inventory of the
management. company.
o Stewardship refers to management’s
three sub functions:
responsibility to properly manage the
resources of the firm. The information  Purchasing is responsible for ordering inventory
system provides information about from vendors when inventory levels fall to their
resource utilization to external users via reorder points.
traditional financial statements and  Receiving is the task of accepting the inventory
other mandated reports. previously ordered by purchasing.
 To support management decision making.  Stores takes physical custody of the inventory
o The information system supplies received and releases these resources into the
managers with the information they production process as needed.
need to carry out their decision-making
responsibilities. Production
 To support the firm’s day-to-day operations.
two broad classes:
o The information system provides
information to operations personnel to  primary manufacturing activities
assist them in the efficient and effective o shape and assemble raw materials into
discharge of their daily tasks. finished products.
Organizational Structure  production support activities.
o ensure that primary manufacturing
FUNCTIONAL SEGMENTATION activities operate efficiently and
effectively.

Production planning involves scheduling the flow of


materials, labor, and machinery to efficiently meet
production needs.

Quality control monitors the manufacturing process at


various points to ensure that the finished products
meet the firm’s quality standards.

Maintenance keeps the firm’s machinery and other


manufacturing facilities in running order.

Marketing

Deals with the strategic problems of product


promotion, advertising, and market research.

Distribution

Activity of getting the product to the customer after the


sale.
Personnel Distributed Data Processing

Competent and reliable employees are a valuable DDP involves reorganizing the IT function into small
resource to a business. The objective of the personnel information processing units (IPUs) that are distributed
function is to effectively manage this resource. to end users and placed under their control. IPUs may
be distributed according to business function,
Finance geographic location, or both.
Manages the financial resources of the firm through
banking and treasury activities, portfolio management,
credit evaluation, cash disbursements, and cash
receipts.

THE ACCOUNTING FUNCTION

Manages the financial information resource of the firm.

Two important roles in transaction processing:

 Captures and records the financial effects of the


firm’s transactions.
 Distributes transaction information to DISADVANTAGES:
operations personnel to coordinate many of
their key tasks.  Mismanagement of organization-wide
resources.
The Value of Information  Hardware and software incompatibility.
 Redundant tasks.
The value of information to a user is determined by its
 Consolidating incompatible activities
reliability.
 Hiring qualified professionals
Accounting Independence  Lack of standards
Accounting activities must be separate and independent
ADVANTAGES
of the functional areas that maintain custody of physical
resources.  Cost reductions
 Improved cost control responsibility
THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FUNCTION
 Improved user satisfaction
Centralized Data Processing  Backup
all data processing is performed by one or more large
computers housed at a central site that serve users The Evolution of Information System Models
throughout the organization. THE MANUAL PROCESS MODEL
the oldest and most traditional form of accounting
systems. Manual systems constitute the physical events,
resources, and personnel that characterize many
business processes.

THE FLAT-FILE MODEL


most often associated with so-called legacy systems.
large mainframe systems that were implemented in the
late 1960s through the 1980s. describes an
environment in which individual data files are not format of output reports, specifying sources of data,
related to other files. End users in this environment own selecting the appropriate accounting rules, and
their data files rather than share them with other users. determining the controls necessary to preserve the
Thus, stand-alone applications rather than integrated integrity and efficiency of the information system.
systems perform data processing.
 conceptual system involves specifying the
THE DATABASE MODEL criteria for identifying delinquent customers
With the organization’s data in a central location, all and the information that needs to be reported.
users has access to the data they need to achieve their  physical system is the medium and method for
respective objectives. Access to the data resource is capturing and presenting the information.
controlled by a database management system (DBMS).
The DBMS is a special software system that is ACCOUNTANTS AS SYSTEM AUDITORS
programmed to know which data elements each user is Auditing is a form of independent attestation
authorized to access. performed by an expert—the auditor—who expresses
an opinion about the fairness of a company’s financial
THE REA MODEL statements.
REA is an accounting framework for modeling an
organization’s critical resources, events, and agents  External Auditing. Limited to the attest
(REA) and the relationships between them. Once function. Public confidence in the reliability of
specified, accounting and non- accounting data about internally produced financial statements rests
these phenomena can be identified, captured, and directly on their being validated by an
stored in a relational database. independent expert auditor. This service is
often referred to as the attest function.
 Resources. Economic resources are the assets  Internal Auditing. An appraisal function housed
of the organization. They are defined as objects within the organization.
that are both scarce and under the control of  The feature that most clearly distinguishes the
the enterprise. two groups is their respective constituencies.
 Events. Economic events are the critical External auditors represent third-party
information elements of the accounting system outsiders, whereas internal auditors represent
and should be captured in a highly detailed the interests of management.
form to provide a rich database.
 Agents. Economic agents are individuals and
departments that participate in an economic
event. They are parties both inside and outside
the organization with discretionary power to
use or dispose of economic resources.

The Role of the Accountant

ACCOUNTANTS AS USERS
As end users, accountants must provide a clear picture
of their needs to the professionals who design their
systems.

ACCOUNTANTS AS SYSTEM DESIGNERS


accountants have been responsible for key aspects of
the information system, including assessing the
information needs of users, defining the content and