Relevance: A systems analyst will go into an organisation and develop an organisational chart that will show the logical structure of the organisation - the relationships between people, departments and possible communication patterns. As each person has particular tasks it is possible to estimate the sort of computing devices that they require to do their jobs. Similarly, a physical analysis of the organization in geographical terms can highlight the sort of networking infrastructure that would be required to ensure each employee was able to connect to the intranet service.
This information allows the analyst to design an information architecture that suits the current organizational requirements. Organizations are changing constantly so an information architecture must be easily adaptable to change and be robust enough to cope with extremes of use even in the face of disaster. A dead e-commerce server means loss of business unless this is planned for.
Change, redundancy, flexibility, growth are all concepts that are applied to businesses and any organization. We will deal with how a corporate information system can be designed to perform in a dynamic business environment.
Check out the slides down in the resources section! We will talk about
the basic components that might be required to build an information
system within an organisation.
What does the organisation do?
A business must have a mission. This is a simple statement of purpose
that provides a goal for the organisation to align with. For a restaurant,
it could be something as simple as: "To provide our
customers with the ultimate dining experience by providing the most
most excellent service and access to a truly comprehensive wine cellar." More
complex businesses will break down their mission into a series of specific
quality and purpose statements that becomes a "charter" for operations.
Engaging with this mission or charter provides the underlying standards
for quality and a sense of purpose that promotes a spirit of competition
business' operation. It is all about achieving a market share and creating
customer loyalty. It is about instilling pride in the workforce and
a sense of satisfaction knowing that they are providing key part of
a worthwhile endeavour.
Organisations use, create, communicate and protect information as
a basis for management and providing the goods or services that are
their business. In the pursuit of their employment, workers at all
levels are going
role in the organisation. The more usable the information system the
more effective and efficient the business will be in reaching their
Effectiveness and efficiency are the aspects to maintaining competitive
services, customer satisfaction, workforce satisfaction and management
responsiveness and flexibility.
Every organisation has a unique structure both logically and physically.
One business could be on one room or one building where another may
be on several campuses world-wide. Today's communication and computer
technologies allow us to create an "information architecture" to suit
a wide range of business configurations. Information Architecture
is defined as:
- An overall technology strategy for an enterprise.
As technology is improving and changing constantly it is always important
to keep up in order to maintain productivity and competitiveness. Larger
organisations, like GU have their own IT department. Smaller organisations
often farm this part of their operations out to specialist service
providers. In either case
- IT department uses procedures and software to maintain hardware
and software applications
How is the organisation structured logically?
Every organisation has a departmental structure that breaks the operation
down into task types that completes various different apects of the
business. Even when the organisation is a single owner-operator the
tasks can be broken down into things that are to do with Sales, Advertising,
Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Logistics, Production, Design, Engineering,
Administration, Human Resources, Customer Relations, Service, Management
and many others. This logical organisational structure is reflected
in a structure chart and sometimes appears as a tree or hierarchy.
Different people in different parts of the organisation
are going to have different information and technology needs depending
upon their roles.
How is the organisation structured physically?
Let us start with a small manufacturing or service oriented
business operation with a production or work area, a warehouse or storage
area and maybe an office for administration and management. For this
example let us say that it can be housed within one building such as
a small factory or commercial premises.
Essentially there needs only
to be a single local area network with access to the Internet via
a broadband router with a firewall. The business is in one building
one room and so the choices
for networking and communication in general are simplified.
Successful businesses are want to expand their operations and spread
out to service other areas. What would happen if the small business
started up another factory across the road? How might their communications
need to change to allow the organisation to be logically connected
when they are physically separated? In this case maybe a second broadband
router for the new factory and then set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
over the telephone or cable network.
There are many options depending upon a range of conditions:
density or network throughput (Mbps) that is required between
sites or campuses
- Availability of a common line of site contact point (microwave
- Presence or absence of high energy electrical noise
- Radio coverage.
government is housed in several buildings within the CBD of
Brisbane. Because few of the buildings had line of site for microwave
communication and because the network throughput was in excess of what
infrastructure could affordably carry for a large while
communications to connect each of the buildings.
has several campuses including the Gold Coast Hospital,
Nathan, Mt Gravatt and Southbank. We use a common line
of site link to Tamborine mountain (all campuses have unhindered line
of site) where a microwave repeater ensures that each of the campuses
Once businesses expand their footprint to other regions, states or
countries then different options for Wide Area Networking must be employed.
Generally these require the telecommunications infrastructure that
makes up the Internet backbones around the world. Communications media
may include microwave links, satellite links, undersea optical fibre
cabling and high capacity telephony networks.
How is the organisation structured in terms of network
In many organisations different departments will create
different loads on the network and so the network must be designed
around the types of user and usage requirements for efficient and effective
Because different tasks have different intrinsic requirements
for network bandwidth (Mbps) it is not unusual to find different
departments creating different amounts of network traffic. The everyday
office may have five users developing wordprocessed documents or
spreadsheets that maybe respond to email infrequently as well as access
intranet to access different bits of information. In a situation
like this and taking into account any peak times, the average office
put very little strain on a 10 Mbps network.
Five different users that were creating streaming video
on high end graphics engines or even a network gaming site where graphical
images are being constantly updated would cause a much higher level
of network traffic that could reach into the 100Mbps range. Wired networking
is capable of this kind of traffic but knowing that the throughput
of a WiFi network is either 54Mbps or 108Mbps you
would have to think carefully about installing a wireless network system.
Imagine an online order processing system where there
may be one or two database servers (standalone computers) that are
constantly processing requests for stock, shipping, availability, payment,
maintenance and other things from hundreds of users at the same time.
The network traffic generated at those two computers can be immense
and if there is insufficient bandwidth to handle all of those requests
then the system may slow down to a point that customers or clients
find it unusable. A large database server may utilise a large part
of a 100Mbps or even a 1000Mbps (1Gbps) network connection.
Network links between campuses in GU operate at 300Mbps
but the average network usage of each of the several thousand computers
is very small. The largest traffic contributers are the Database servers
for things like enrolment, the WWW servers for corporate information
and the email servers that allow communication.
People - Who are the users and what do they do?
Every organisation is different and even amongst organisations that
do the same thing, they all do it slightly differently. A systems analyst
will enter an organisation in order to gain a perspective of how the
organisation operates, how information flows and the roles that each
of the members of the organisation plays.
The kinds of information that an analyst will gather come from simple
questions that may be answered through interview or simply observation.
- Who are the people in the organisation that you are analysing?
- Customer relations using phones and customer management software
- Front of house at a restaurant or retail POS operators
- Mobile salespeople
- Multimedia developers
- Upper (strategic decisions) management
- Middle (tactical decisions) management
- Operations (operational decisions) management
- Financial controllers
- Office and administration staff
- Reception staff
- Human Resource Managers
- Games testers
- Network maintenance engineers
- Software developers
do they do with the information system?
- log on to it from remote locations
- access it to download/upload information after being away from
- use it to create documents, browse the Web and send email
- connect wirelessly
- sit at a desktop workstation
- use it for cooperative or collaborative design or document
- networked virtual reality
- connect wirelessly
- What documents do they create or process?
- text documents (email, wordprocessed, spreadsheets, databases,
HTML, PDF, etc)
- image documents (.gif, .jpg, .bmp, .raw, .tif, etc)
- video and sound documents (.wav, .mov, .mpg, etc)
- What software do they use?
- Web page creation
- video/image editing
- CD/DVD creation
- Intranet communication
- Email client
- Specialist software
- What are
their information needs?
- access to WWW, intranet, corporate databases, email service
- ability to communicate continuously
- ability to communicate asynchronously
- ability to save and manipulate huge files
- ability to find corporate information quickly
- ability to create reports of a particular format
- ability to create and test software
- Who do they communicate with?
- internal users only
- external users
- How do
- mobile telephone
- Internet telephone
- web forms
- calendar entries
- wireless - bluetooth
- wireless - WiFi 802.11b/g
- What records do
- customer related notes or messages
- logged jobs
- completed jobs
- time management
- item related comparisons
- employee data
- customer data
- supplier data
- pricing data
- design documents
- Do they have special needs?
- colour blind
- physically disabled
- different language
- application specific help
Availability & Redundancy - A question of need
Availability is all about how often an information system is accessible
by those that interact with it to perform their tasks. In computer
jargon it is measured and referred to as "uptime". Most businesses
require that their system has the highest possible uptime and expectations
for a high availability system are around 99.9% of time.
Computers, software and machines in general have a working life and
require regular maintenance in order to operate efficiently. If a part
of a system must be made inaccessible while maintenance is carried
out that can affect the smooth operation of the business. If you have
an online e-commerce system then as soon as you give the system "downtime"
then you are losing business and potential sales.
In order to maintain a high level of availability for systems, key
parts like servers or communication links may be replicated or mirrored.
If one machine goes offline for a period then the second will carry
on operating. Having multiple copies of hardware like computers, processors,
harddrives and other items is called providing redundancy.
Scalability & Interoperability - A question of growth
Organisations grow and shrink and change shape depending upon a range
of stimuli and needs. When designing and developing an information
system it is important to take into account that change will occur
and to design with the future in mind. If an information system can
effectively grow and shrink with the organisation that contains it
then it is considered to be scalable.
The system development lifecycle is such that organisations may undergo
a continuous process of upgrade and replacement especially as new technologies
and software become available or even required. It is quite common
for an organisation that has an information system based upon older
technologies to keep their data and important information in its current
format. In order for a system upgrade to be worthwhile, any new information
system components must be able to communicate and interact with the
older parts of the system for as long as required. Designing composite
systems so that the different parts and technologies are able to communicate
and cooperate is called making them interoperable.
Hardware - What are the building blocks for the physical information
In general, these days most organisations that are service oriented
have a "computer on every desk" policy so that all workers have access
to the information that they need to perform their duties. There are
exceptions in manufacturing and other industries but let us assume
for the point of information system design that everyone in an organisation
has access to the information system.
Everyone that spends time working at a desk needs a desktop computer
of the specifications that suits their job (See slides in resource
Everyone that is predominantly mobile in their job needs some sort
of mobile computing device. Those that need to process documents or
access corporate information remotely should have something like a
notebook or tablet PC. Those that need to access basic email and workflow
or appointment information might need a handheld device like a PocketPC
or other PDA.
Every person working in a given physical area needs to have access
to the corporate information system which means, at a minimum, they
access to the internal network. The options are to provide:
- Local area cable network between 8 or less employees using a central
hub or switch and sharing drives and data mutually
- For larger groups a wireless access point with
one port (cable outlet) connected to the intranet, file or database
other ports connected to other
wired network hardware like servers or printers and a wireless
network adapter for each machine on the network
- If wireless communication is not appropriate then a network of switches (5,
8 or 16 port) and/or hubs to connect
each of the computers in the area by cable to the intranet, file
or database server and a network adapter card for
each machine on the network.
If access is required to the Internet or to the public network in
order to communicate with suppliers, customers and other parts of the
organisation then a slightly different approach is required.
- A router to connect to the broadband
Internet on one side and one or more of the local area ports to connect
to the internal LAN described above
on the other
- Wireless broadband router
- Cable modem/router
- ADSL modem/router
General Network Design Rules
- One router for each network transition. Internet – LAN or
LAN – sub-network
- Most routers have 4 or 8 ports (connections) for sub-networks
- Most routers can process 100Mbps
- Servers that have high traffic (10Mbps-100Mbps) put on their own
- Servers that have lower traffic (up to 10Mbps) put on
their own port of a switch at a high level of the network
- LAN with 8 or less computers creating low traffic could
be connected to a hub
- LAN with 8 or less computers with one or more creating
high traffic should be connected to a switch
- LAN with 9 or more computers should be connected
by a switch
- Every networked computer requires a network card (adapter)
- Every wirelessly networked computer requires a wireless network adapter
(some have built-in WiFi)
- One or more ports of a switch might be connected to other switches
- Most desktop computers (at GU) generate significantly less
than 1% of 10Mbps (100Kbps) network traffic except at peaks when
downloading large files so be very conservative in throughput
If several 10Mbps star networks are connected to a central switch
then the central switch would probably require a 100Mbps throughput
Network speed terminology
Bandwidth and throughput are used as measurements of how much data
(bits or bytes) can be sent in a period of time along a transmission
line or network link. The measurement used is Mbps or megabits per
second and is sometimes referred to as the speed of the network.
Software - How to make the computer do a job
Every computer needs to have software to perform certain tasks (See
slides in resources section). The basic sorts of software are:
- Operating system
- MacOS X
- Tools and utilities
- Zip software
- VPN software
- AntiVirus software
- Adware detection software
- Communication clients
- Instant messaging
- Application software
- Office productivity
- Graphics production
- Video production
- Multimedia development
- Web development
- Application development environments (programming languages
- Task specific software
Task specific and "enterprise" software
Specialised jobs often require specialised information and data processing
capabilities depending upon the operating environment. Users in different
roles in the organisation will use different types of software in order
to perform their particular tasks.
Within an organisation many specialist
or department-specific applications can all be linked within the
corporate system to provide information mutually as required. Just
organisation must communicate and swap data so this can be accomplished
within the enterprise computing environment.
Information from reports are used by management as feedback to control
the operation at different levels. Sales reports and inventory changes
may be linked to manufacturing and engineering departments and/or ordering
and logistics depending upon how the organisation works.
Specialist software includes:
- Investment management
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- Cash accounting
- Financial reporting
- Human resources - HRIS
- ERM - Employee relationship management
- Engineering and design
- CAD - Computer aided design
- CAE - Computer aided engineering
- Manufacturing and production
- CAM - Computer aided manufacturing (computer control of equipment)
- CIM - Computer Integrated Manufacturing (computer management
of orders, inventory, parts etc)
- Resource management
- ERP - Enterprise resource planning
- MRP - Manufacturing resource planning (links with CIM above)
- Marketing information system
- Sales force automation software (SFA)
- Distribution management
- Customer Interaction Management (another CIM)
- software to manage notes from phone calls at call centers
- Office Information Systems
- Productivity tools - wordprocessors, spreadsheets, database
- Communication tools - email, intranet
- Transaction processing system
- POS terminals
- Online payment
- Funds transfer
- Management information system
- Decision support systems (DSS)
- Analysis tools
- Rules, knowledge, limits
- Executive information system (EIS)
- Expert system
- Artificial intelligence - inference rules
- Knowledge base
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
- Coordination of different functional units within the enterprise
- Content management system
- databases and procedures to manage access to documents
Match the concepts
||Random Available Memory
|executable file extension
|text only files
|Basic language of the computer
||Random Access Memory
||1's and 0's
|Computer CPU Speed