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System Elements-Data Roles in System Development

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The design of a system varies in response to the expected audience for the perticulare application. Some systems are intended for back rooms, some for the front office, and some are for the general public. They are designed for technical users, others for end users. Some are intended to work standalone in real-time control applications, others for an environment of timesharing and pervasive networking. (Raymond, 2003, chap. 3) What has to be defined is the kind of system and the requirements.

Every system has elements but none are as important as the input of data . This data can ultimately have an effect on the desired outcome . Each system requires users to enter data in a particular format. If this data is not entered correctly the system is unable to recognize the input as valid data. This is frequently the case with time and date fields. In this situation an error handling process is needed, users will perriodically make input errors. Design considerations are often focused on the wrong issues, to much time is spent on formulating the desired error message and where it must be displayed in the process.

Frequently system programmers will design a system that provides instructions built into the application, thus providing the correct input format. So the users can understand exactly how they should enter the data. However, even this does not always help, users still make input errors, and developers complain about their “stupid” users. (Waloszek, 2000)

One must think that this way of thinking is wrong. The problem truly is not with the users. The problem is the design of the system, thus forcing users to act in a “system-friendly ” way. (Waloszek, 2000) Requiring users to enter data in a set format is the wrong approach. With any system the input fields can be designed to interpret the data entered. This prevents users from entering data incorrectly, and thus eliminates the need for onscreen instructions or the need for any kind of error messages.

So, one must conclude that computer systems are truly not the problem. It’s the way the data is formatted for the system that is the issue. If you eliminate the situations wherever you find them in your system; the users will find them to be highly beneficial. Only then will the entry of data be truly user-friendly.

Roles in System Development -End User

There are different factors that come into play when developing a system. However, in my opinion one of the most critical pieces is the end user. The idea of involving an end user into the development of a project is new within the last few years. The idea of developing the project is undertaken by some combination of business managers and users.

The question remains, what is the preferred method to develop a new system? Depending upon what kind of system being developing, there are several things that must be asked about the end user. John L. Hawkins, editor-in-chief of Advisor magazine states “The huge difference between doing something and doing it right is why the world is full of specialists. A key to being a professional is being efficient, which traditionally comes from knowing exactly what to do and how to do it quickly.” (Hawkins, 1996) As a specialist in system development it is you’re responsibly to ask the end user the correct questions before developing the system. Such as the number of end users, the desired output of the project and what resources the end user will be utilizing.

However, with the technology available today, the end user is usually technologically mature and is no longer just simply consulted on the project. They actually have assumed the role of the designer, developer, and tester. Each one takes control of the project development effort and develops systems without the input of a technology specialist. The “path” may be born from the individual vision, but the multifaceted nature of technology requires desperate actions to contribute to the technology success. (Ferneley , 2007)

Overall it does not matter what kind of system you are developing, the end user has the final say as to what is needed. If the system does not meet their requirements it is of no use to them or their organization. The challenge here is can you provide what their needs are and is the cost worth the effort.

Systems Development Life Cycle – Feasibility

When looking into system development it is essential that a feasibility study be performed. A feasibility study is a preliminary study undertaken before the real work of a project starts to determine the likelihood of the project’s success. (University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, 2001) It is the analysis of possible alternative solutions to the problem and a way of making these recommendations to management.

There are various reasons to develop a new system. Some of these are listed below.

The current system has surpassed its life expectancy.

Technology advancements may have rendered the current system obsolete.

The business is expanding.

Customers are complaining about the current system.

So why do a feasibility study?

Developing any new type of system is a difficult task. Taking a project from the beginning of the idea through the final stage is a multifaceted and time-consuming effort. Most ideas do not develop into working systems. If these ideas make it to the operational stage, the bulk will fail within the first year. Before an organization invests in a proposed business project, they must determine if the project can be cost-effective and then decide if the advantages to be gained from the investment outweigh the risks involved. (Maston, 2001)

Most projects are expensive to undertake. The projects involve business operations that differ from those of the organization. Often, these operations involve risk factors that are very unfamiliar to upper management. A feasibility study will allow the team developing the idea to preview the project outcomes and decide if they want to continue pursuing the project.

All organizations understand that the cost of conducting any study can seem high. But these costs are rather minor when comparing them to the total cost of the project. A small investment on a feasibility study by an organization can help to protect larger investments later.

A crucial function of a feasibility study is to allow planners the ability to explore their ideas before implementing them. This can divulge errors in project design before they negatively impact the project. (Maston, 2001)

Ideally, the primary purpose of a feasibility study is to present the risks associated with the project in a manner that allows upper management to evaluate them correctly. The acceptable level of risk will vary for each organization depending upon the desired outcome.


(Ferneley E H 2007 Covert End User Development a Study of Sucess)Ferneley , E. H. (2007). Covert End User Development a Study of Success. _Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, 19_(1), 62-72.

(Hawkins J L 1996 Develop with End-User Tools?)Hawkins, J. L. (1996). Develop with End-User Tools? _Advisor Media, ,_ . Retrieved November 29, 2006, from Advisor Media, Inc Web Site: http://advisor.com/doc/05137

(Maston J 2001905 Cooperative Feasibility Study Process.)Maston, J. (2001, September 5). The Cooperative Feasibility Study Process. _USDA-Cooperative Services, 1,_ . Retrieved 12/01/2006, from Georgia Cooperative Council database.

(Raymond E S 2003 Elements of Operating-System Style)Raymond, E. S. (2003). The Elements of Operating-System Style [Electronic version]. In E. Raymond (Ed.), _The Art of Unix Programming_ (1st ed., Rev., p. ). : Thyrsus Enterprises.

(University Of Wisconsin Center For Cooperatives 20010829 Conducting a Feasibility Study.)University of Wisconsin Center For Cooperatives. (2001, August 29). Conducting a Feasibility Study. _, ,_ . Retrieved 12/01/2006, from database.

(Waloszek G 20000901 Don’t Let Users Suffer from System Weaknesses)Waloszek, G. (2000, September 1). _Don’t Let Users Suffer from System Weaknesses_. Retrieved December 1, 2006, from SAP Design Guide Web Site: http://www.sapdesignguild.org/community/design/sys_weak.asp

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