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Chapter 14

Construct,
Deliver, and
Maintain
Systems
Projects

Accounting Information
Systems 9e
James A. Hall
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Objectives for Chapter 14
• Be able to identify the sequence of events that constitutes
the in-house development phase of SDLC.
• Be familiar with tools used to improve the success of systems
construction and delivery activities including prototyping,
CASE tools, and the use of PERT and Gantt charts.
• Understand the distinction between structured and object-
oriented design approaches.
• Understand the use of multilevel DFDs in the design of
business processes.
• Be familiar with the different types of systems
documentation and the purposes they serve.

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Objectives for Chapter 14 (cont’d.)
• Recognize the role of accountants in the construction and
delivery of systems.
• Understand the advantages and disadvantages of the
commercial software option and be able to discuss the
decision-making process used to select commercial
software.

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In-House Systems Development
• Problems that account for most system failures that have
plagued the systems-development life cycle (SDLC):
– Poorly specified systems requirements.
– Ineffective development techniques.
– Lack of user involvement in systems development.
• User involvement in systems development is key to success
but competent user involvement is difficult to accomplish:
– Users tend to become discouraged when they discover the time
investment required.
– Communication between end users and systems professional is
generally not fluent with miscommunication discovered too late.

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In-House Systems Development:
Techniques for Improvement
• Prototyping:
– Providing users a preliminary working version of the system.
– Built quickly and inexpensively with intention it will be modified.
– Objective is to represent “an unambiguous functional specification,
serve as a vehicle for organizing and learning, and evolve ultimately
into a fully implemented system.”
– Effective tool for establishing user requirements.

• Computer-aided software engineering (CASE):


– Involves the use of computer systems to build computer systems.
– Upper CASE tools support analysis and design.
– Lower CASE tools support physical activities associated with
application programming and system maintenance.

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In-House Systems Development:
Techniques for Improvement
• PERT Chart:
– Tool for showing the relationship between key activities that
constitute the construct and delivery process.
– Principal features of the diagram are:
• Activities which are the tasks to be completed in the project.
• Events mark the completion of one activity and the beginning of the next.
• Paths are routes through the diagram that connect the events from the
first to the last.
• Critical path is the path with the greatest overall time.

• Gantt Chart:
– Horizontal bar chart that presents time on a horizontal plane and
activities on a vertical plane.
– Shows the current status of the project at a glance..

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Design Approaches
• The structured design approach is a disciplined way of
designing systems from the top down.
– Starts with “big picture” of proposed system and gradually
decomposes it into greater detail so it may be fully understood.
– Utilizes data flow diagrams (DFDs) and structure diagrams.

• The object-oriented design approach builds information


systems from reusable standard components or objects.
– Once created, standard modules can be used in other systems with
similar needs.
– A library of modules can be created for future use.
– Benefits include reduced time and cost for development,
maintenance, and testing and improved user support and flexibility
in the development process.

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Elements of the Object-Oriented Approach
• Objects are equivalent to nouns.
• Attributes are the data that describe the objects
• Methods are actions performed on or by objects that may
change their attributes.

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Elements of the Object-Oriented Approach
• An object class is a logical grouping of objects that share the
same attributes and methods.
• An instance is a single occurrence of an object within a class.

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Elements of the Object-Oriented Approach
• Inheritance means each object instance inherits attributes
and methods of the class to which it belongs.

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Systems Design
• Purpose of design phase is to produce a detailed description
of proposed system that satisfies requirements identified
during analysis and is in accordance the conceptual design.
• Follows a logical sequence of events:
– Create a data model of the business process.
– Design conceptual user views.
– Design normalized database tables.
– Design physical user views (output and input views).
– Develop process modules.
– Specify system controls.
– Perform system walkthroughs.
• Iterative process that is circular, not linear.

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Data Modeling, Conceptual Views and Normalized
Tables
• Data modeling formalizes the data requirements of the
business process as a conceptual model.
• Entity-relationship diagram (ERD):
– Primary tool for data modeling
– Used to depict the entities or data objects in the system.

• Once entities have been represented in the data model,


data attributes of each can be described.
– Requires careful analysis of user needs and may include both
financial and non-financial data.
• Attributes represent the conceptual user view that must
be supported by normalized database tables.

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Design Physical User Views
• Output is the information produced by the system to support
user tasks and decisions and should have these attributes:
– Relevance: information must support user’s decision or task.
– Summarization: should be done according to level of user.
– Exception orientation: Operation control reports should identify
activities about to go out of control only.
– Timeliness: Timely information that is reasonably accurate and
complete more valuable than perfect information received too late.
– Accuracy: Output must be free of material errors.
– Completeness: Ideally, no essential information should be missing.
– Conciseness: Reports should be as concise as possible.
• Systems designers must determine output types and formats
most useful to the user.
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Designing Input Views
• Items to consider in designing hard-copy documents:
– How will the document be handled?
– How long will the form be stored and in what type of environment?
– How many copies are required and what size form is necessary?
– What form design should be used?
• Zones are areas on the form that contain related data.
• Embedded instructions are contained within the form, should be brief and
unambiguous, and placed in the zone to which they pertain
• Electronic input techniques fall into two basic types:
– Input from source documents requires input screens that visually
reflect the source document.
– Direct data input requires that data correct technology be
distributed to the source of the transaction.
• Data entry devices include point-of-sale terminals, magnetic ink character
recognition devices, optical character recognition devices, ATMs and voice
recognition devices.

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Design the System Process
• Begins with the DFDs produced in the general design phase.
This DFD was decomposed from the context-level DVD:

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Design the System Process
• Process 1.4 decomposed into the next level of detail:

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Design the System Process
• Creation of structure diagram requires analysis of DFD to
divide processes into input, process and output functions.

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Design the System Process
• Modular approach involves arranging system in hierarchy of
small, discrete modules that each perform a single task.
• Correctly designed modules are (1) loosely coupled and (2)
have strong cohesion where each module has one task.
– Coupling measuring degree of interaction between modules.
• Modules with high interaction are tightly coupled.

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Design System Controls & Perform Walk-Through
• Last step in the detailed design phase, this includes:
– Computer processing controls.
– Database controls.
– Manual controls over input to and output from the system.
– Operational environment controls.

• Allows design team to review, modify, and evaluate controls


with a system-wide perspective that did not exist when each
module was being designed independently.
• Development team usually performs a system design walk-
through to ensure design is free from conceptual errors that
could become programmed into the final system.
– Some firms use an independent quality assurance (QA) group of
programmers, analysts, users, and internal auditors for this task.

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Review System Documentation
• Detailed design report documents and describes system to
this point.
• Report includes:
– Design of all screen outputs, reports, and operational documents.
– ER diagrams describing the data relations in the system.
– Third normal form designs for database tables specifying all data
elements.
– Updated data dictionary describing each data element.
– Designs for all screen inputs and source documents for system.
– Context diagrams for the overall system.
– Low-level data flow diagrams of specific system processes.
– Structure diagrams for the program modules in the system, including
a pseudocode description for each module.

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Program Application Software
• If software developed must select programming language.
• Procedural languages require programmer to specify precise
order program logic is executed
– Often called third-generation languages (3GLs) and include COBOL,
Fortran, C, and PL1.
• Event-driven languages are not procedural and program’s
code is not executed in a predefined sequence.
– External actions or events user initiates dictate program control flow.
– Microsoft Visual Basic most popular example.
• Object-oriented programming (OOP) languages are central
to achieving benefits of this approach.
– Most popular are Java and Smalltalk but learning curve is steep so
many hybrid languages have been developed.

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Programming the System
• Regardless of language used, programs should follow a
modular approach which produces small programs that
perform narrowly defined tasks. Benefits include:
• Programming efficiency: Modules can be coded and tested
independently which vastly reduces programming time.
• Maintenance efficiency: Small modules are easier to analyze
and change which reduces maintenance time.
• Control: Small modules are less likely to contain material
errors of fraudulent logic and errors are contained within the
module.

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Software Testing
• Programmers should test completed modules independently
before implementing them.

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Deliver the System
• System ready to be implemented.
– Database structures are populated, equipment is purchased and
installed, employees are trained and system is documented.
• Engages efforts of designers, programmers, database
administrators, users and accountants.
• After testing individual modules, entire system should be
tested as a whole.
– Formal acceptance document should be prepared when test
results are satisfactory.
• Auditor should save data during system review for future
use.
– Serves as a base case which documents how system performed at
a point in time.

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Documenting the System
• System documentation describes how system works.
• Designers and programmers need highly technical
documentation to debug errors and perform maintenance.
– Includes DFDs, ER diagrams, structure diagrams, system flowcharts,
program flowcharts, and program code listing.
• Computer operator use run manuals on how to run system.
• Users need documentation describing how to use the system.
– Typical user handbook contains an overview of system and major
functions, instructions on getting started, tutorials, and help features.
• Accountant (auditor) documentation includes all of the above
and document flowcharts.

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Converting the Databases
• Database conversion is a critical step in the implementation.
– The transfer of data from its current form to the format or medium
required by the new system. Degree of conversion depends on
technology leap from old system to new.
• Data conversion is risk and precautions should be taken:
– Validation: Old database must be validated before conversion
which requires analyzing each class of data to determine if it should
be reproduced in the new system.
– Reconciliation: After conversion new database must be reconciled
against the original.
– Backup: Keep copies of the original files against discrepancies in
the converted data.

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Converting to the New System
• With cold turkey cutover (also called the big bang approach)
firms switches to the new system and simultaneously
terminates the old system.
– Often easiest and least costly with simple systems, but riskiest
approach with more complex systems.
• Phased cutover begins operating new system in modules.
– Reduces risk of devastating failure but can create incompatibilities
between old and new subsystems.
• Parallel operation cutover involves running both the old
system and new system simultaneously for a period of time.
– Most time consuming and safest approach, but also the most costly.

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Post-Implementation Review
• Objective to measure success of system and of the process
and should consider:
• System design adequacy:
– Do physical features of the system meet user needs?
– Should consider output, usefulness, format, accuracy,
completeness, accessibility, input forms, user operations,
processing, accessibility, execution, documentation and help.
• Accuracy of time, cost and benefit estimates:
– Were there any material errors in the estimates?
– Are benefits as expected and were they fairly valued?

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The Role of Accountants
• Role in the construct and deliver phases of the SDLC should
be significant.
• Most system failures are due to poor design and improper
implementation.
• Accountants should provide their expertise to help avoid
inadequate systems by:
– Providing technical expertise in the design phase to ensure the
AIS complies with GAAP, GAAS, SEC regulations and IRS codes.
– Specifying documentation standards for auditing purposes.
– Verifying control adequacy in accordance with SAS 78 during both
the design and implementation phase.

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Trends in Commercial Packages
• Four factors have stimulated growth of commercial software:
– Relatively low cost of general packages.
– Prevalence of industry-specific vendors.
– Growing demand for commercial software by small businesses.
– Trend toward downsizing and distributed data processing.

• Turnkey systems are complete, tested systems ready for


implementation.
• Backbone systems provide a basic structure to build on.
• Vendor-supported systems are vendor developed and
maintained custom systems.
• ERP systems are difficult to classify as they have characteristic
of all of the other types.
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Commercial Packages
• Advantages of commercial packages:
– Decreased implementation time and cost.
– Reduced probability of program errors.

• Disadvantages of commercial packages:


– Dependence on vendor for maintenance.
– Less flexibility and greater difficulty in modifying system.

• Four steps in choosing a commercial package:


– 1. Analyze needs and develop detailed specifications
– 2. Send out request for proposals (RFP) to prospective vendors to
serve as a comparative basis for initial screening.
– 3. Gather facts about each system using multiple sources and
techniques.
– 4. Analyze the findings and make a final selection.

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Maintenance and Support
• May be relatively trivial or more extensive.
• Some organization’s outsource on a low-cost bidder basis.
– Justification is short-term economic benefit but isolating
maintenance activities may disrupt the flow of system-related
knowledge important to the organization.
• End user support is a critical aspect of maintenance that can
be facilitated by:
– Knowledge management which is a method for gathering,
organizing, refining, and disseminating user input.
– Can be used to create a group memory which makes an
organization more effective.

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Appendix Section A: Case Tools
• Central Repository is the heart of the CASE system:
– Database of attributes, relations , and elements that describe all
the applications created under CASE including:
• Definition of all databases, system documentation, program code,
reusable program modules and user prototype screens.

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CASE Models: The Data Flow Diagram Model
• The context-level DFD is a very high-level representation of
the system.

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CASE Models: The Data Flow Diagram Model
• Next step is
to explode
the context-
level DFD
into one or
more
intermediate
-level DFDs.
• Process 1.0
decomposed
into four sub-
processes.

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CASE Models: The Data Flow Diagram Model
• Elementary-
level DFD
provides a
clear and
precise
definition of
all elements
of a portion
of a system.
• Process 1.3
explained in
detail.

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CASE Models
• The prototype model supports the prototyping concept.
• Design model based on concept of system decomposition.
– Any system can be decomposed into smaller sub-functions.
– Takes the elementary-level DFD and produces a structure diagram.
• DFD is a model of the conceptual system and the structure diagram is a
model of the program code that constitutes the physical system.

• One of the labor-saving advantages of CASE is its facility for


transforming the structure diagram into computer modules.
– Some CASE tools eliminate the source-code stage, forcing system
changes to be made via the DFD.
• Preserve integrity between conceptual system (the DFD) and the
physical system (program) but commits firm to a CASE tool.
• Potential control issue for auditor.

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Case Models: The Maintenance Model
• The iceberg effect refers to fact that 80 to 90% of total
system cost is expended during the maintenance phase.
– Effect greatly reduced by the CASE maintenance model.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of CASE
• Advantages:
– Reduced system complexity and maintenance cost.
– Increased flexibility because it tends to be a cyclical process.
– Capacity of review alternative designs.
– Quicker development process and promotion of user involvement.
– Reusable program code and documentation.
• Disadvantages:
– Fully equipped CASE tools for a mainframe can cost hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
– Developing CASE expertise takes time and learning curve is steep.
– Hundreds of CASE products available are often incompatible which
tends to tie the firm to a single product and vendor.
– CASE source code not as efficient as programmer code.

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Appendix Section B: Output Reporting Alternatives
• Tables and matrices are used to summarize large amounts
of information.

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Graphs and Charts
• Line graphs are used to show fluctuations in an item of
interest over time.

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Graphs and Charts
• Scatter graphs reveal relationships among underlying data.

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Graphs and Charts

• Bar graphs
show
relationships
of total
quantities or
proportions.

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Graphs and Charts
• Pie charts present proportional relationship of different
items to the whole.

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Graphs and Charts
• Layer charts also show proportional relationships but allow
the addition of another dimension such as time or condition.

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permitted in a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use. 63
Colors
• Colors can greatly enhance report usefulness.

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permitted in a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use. 64