Purpose of ICT strategy To set out ways that organisations can realise their aims and objectives.
Internal factors influencing ICT systems strategy Business goals – what the organisation would like to achieve in the short and long term. Available finance – there must be finance available for the development of ICT. Legacy systems – often systems must fit into existing systems that need to be retained. Geography of clients and business fulfilment – where customers are situated determines ICT strategy.
External factors influencing ICT systems strategy Legislation – laws applicable to ICT must be obeyed. Compliance – ICT strategy needs to conform to certain policies, standards or laws.
Management of information assets over time Information needs to be kept over a long period of time. This is usually for legal reasons. Organisations need to keep records of e-mails, internal memos, voicemails, etc. This creates an increasing volume of data which needs to be stored and accessed if needed.
The need for a corporate strategy for ICT systems Organisations need to look at the latest ICT developments to see if they bring business benefits for them. Software upgrades offer increased functionality. Hardware upgrades increase performance and reliability.
Future proofing Scaleable networks – extra servers and terminals are easily added. Applications should be independent of the operating system used. Data is stored separately to the programs used to manipulate it. Large amount of storage to anticipate future requirements. Higher processing power than originally needed.
Developments in technology An organisation must be able to react quickly to technological change if it provides business benefits. Competitors will gain market share if this is not the case. ICT strategy needs to be flexible enough to take advantage of new developments.
Procurement Means purchasing of goods and services. Involves researching suitable providers. Tendering takes place for large contracts. Tenders are collected and one is chosen. Contracts are set up.
Technology life cycle There are four phases: Research and development phase – new systems are investigated and built. The ascent phase – the costs of the new system have been recovered. The maturity phase – ICT system works well and helps deliver the benefits. The decline phase – ICT system becomes out-of-date and there are increased costs of maintaining the system. The system needs replacing.
Information management Information is a corporate asset. Information must be available to anyone in the organisation who needs it. Management information must be capable of being supplied from data processing systems. Steps must be taken to ensure any system is able to produce such information.
People considerations Personnel must be qualified. Reorganisation may be needed.
Standards may affect strategic choice Standards may be needed for exchange of data between organisations. Example: schools and examination boards exchange data – need to avoid re-keying – so they need to agree on a standard format for data to allow this.
How it affects policies and procedures Topic 6Legislation
Ensure compliance with: Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Computer Misuse Act 1990 Data Protection Act 1998 Freedom of Information Act 2000 Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
What needs to be done? Policies – staff need clear guidance. Procedures – certain actions need to be taken to ensure compliance.
Enforcing and controlling data protection Ensure data staff do not store personal data on portable devices without permission Appointment of data controller Ensure security of personal data Data Protection Act control/enforcement Ensure accuracy of data Notification process Procedures for subject access Training of users who access/use personal data Ensure data is deleted when no longer needed
Enforcing and controlling data protection Security policy – ensures personal data is kept secure by use of: passwords and usernames/user-IDs levels of access (only certain staff can accessvery personal details, e.g. medical records) firewalls – to prevent access to hackers encryption – to prevent unauthorised access.
Computer Misuse Act 1990 Covers: Deliberately planting or transferring viruses to computer systems to cause damage to programs and data. Using an organisation’s computers to carry out unauthorised work. Hacking into someone else’s computer system with a view to seeing/altering information. Using computers to commit various frauds.
Procedures to prevent problems under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 Acceptable use policy – set out in employment contract. Training to make staff aware of the problems.
Policies to prevent misuse No downloads - to prevent introduction of viruses. No unauthorised work. Ban on users swapping passwords or usernames. Regular audits. Checks on users’ disk space. Scanning of portable media.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Ensuring the health and safety of employees in the workplace.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Health and safety practices/procedures such as: Inspections of work area (chairs, desks, screens, etc.). Policy to allow staff to change tasks. Training to make staff aware of problems and what they can do to reduce their effects. Arranging and paying for eye tests and corrective treatment (e.g., glasses). Ensuring developed software is not frustrating to use.
Exam tip For questions on this topic: make sure that you deal with policies and procedures and not the details of the acts themselves.
Topic 7Developing ICT solutions
Factors for a successful development process Management and end-user involvement at appropriate times. Effective ICT teamwork.
Some definitions you need to know Milestones – points which mark the end of logical stages in the project. These are the points where the project is reviewed or part of the project is delivered. Deliverables – parts of the project that are completed and signed off as being acceptable by the client/project sponsor.
Project sponsors Project sponsors are managers of the organisation who have asked for a problem to be solved.
Management and end-user involvement at appropriate times Project sponsors and end-users ensure: there is a budget for the project there are milestones for the project everyone is clear about the objectives consultation takes place at all stages of development the system is capable of supplying management information there are regular project meetings.
Factors that might contribute to the failure of a new system 1 Complexity of the system Lack of professional standards Lack of formal methods Factors that might contribute to the failure of a newly introduced system Poor communication between professionals Inadequate initial analysis Lack of management/user involvement in the design Lack of management knowledge about ICT systems and their capabilities Inappropriate hardware and software
Factors that might contribute to the failure of a new system 2 Complexity of the system – it may be more complex than is really needed. Lack of formal methods – developers have not used formal systems analysis and design techniques, resulting in a less than perfect system. Lack of management/user involvement in the design – system developed is not what managers or users envisaged.
Factors that might contribute to the failure of a new system 3 Inappropriate hardware and software – users will only use the system if it is fast and supplies the information they need. Lack of management knowledge about ICT systems and their capabilities – managers may rely too much on so-called ‘experts’. Poor communication between professionals – lack of communication between developers and business managers. Lack of professional standards – developers produce the system they want to develop rather than the one the organisation needs.
Topic 9 Techniques and tools for systems development
Investigating and recording techniques 1 Fact finding about the current system can be performed using: interviews observation inspection of records questionnaires.
Investigating and recording techniques 2 Interviews with managers To get an overview of the working of the department. To obtain information as to how the new system might work. To find out what management information the system should provide.
Investigating and recording techniques 3 Interviews with operational staff To get an insight into the day-to-day work of the department. To understand the problems with the existing system. To understand the way a particular job is performed.
Investigating and recording techniques 4 Observation To observe the way a task is performed. To understand the problems. To understand the data flows and the processes involved.
Investigating and recording techniques 5 Inspection of records Paper-based documents (e.g., orders, invoices, etc.). Organisation charts – to see organisation structure. Staff CVs – to assess training needs. Job descriptions – to find out who does what. Policy/procedure manuals – to understand how the organisation works. Previous system documentation – to save work.
Investigation and recording techniques 6 Questionnaires Used to collect information from lots of different people. You do not have to spend time interviewing each person. A disadvantage is that not everyone fills them in.
Installation Topic 10 Introducing large ICT systems into organisations
Methods of introducing systems 1 Direct changeover Involves stopping using the old system one day and starting using the new system the next day. There is an element of risk, particularly if the hardware and software are cutting edge. The advantage of this method is that it requires fewer resources (people, money, equipment) and is simple provided nothing goes wrong. Old system New system
Methods of introducing systems 2 Parallel changeover Old ICT system is run alongside the new ICT system for a period of time until all the people involved with the new system are happy it is working correctly. Used to minimise the risk in introducing a new ICT system. Method involves a lot of unnecessary work (as the work is done twice) and is therefore expensive in people’s time. Method also adds to the amount of planning needed for the implementation. Old system New system
Methods of introducing systems 3 Phased conversion A module at a time can be converted to the new system in phases until the whole system is transferred. The advantage is that IT staff can deal with problems caused by a module before moving on to new modules. The disadvantage is that it is only suitable for systems consisting of separate modules. Old system New system
Methods of introducing systems 4 Pilot conversion New system can be used by one branch and then transferred to other branches over time. Ideal for large organisations that have lots of locations or branches. The advantage of this method is that the implementation is on a much smaller and more manageable scale. The disadvantage is that is takes longer to implement the system in all the branches. Old New Old New Old New Branch C Branch B Branch A
Documentation 1 User documentation: Minimum hardware and software requirements. How to load the software. How to perform certain functions. How to save. How to print. Frequently asked questions (FAQ). How to deal with error messages and troubleshooting. How to back up data.
Documentation 2 Technical documentation: A copy of the system design specification. All the diagrams used to represent the system (flowcharts, system flowcharts, DFDs, ERDs, etc.). The data dictionary. Macro designs, spreadsheet formulae or program listings. Screen layout designs. User interface designs. Test plan.
Maintenance Topic 10 Introducing large ICT systems into organisations
Reasons why maintenance is needed Bugs in software may cause programs to crash. User dissatisfaction may mean program should be altered. New operating system may require applications software alterations. Changes to legislation may necessitate changes. Security weaknesses may need a software patch to fix. It may be possible to improve the performance by altering the program code.
The three types of system maintenance of large systems Perfective – maintenance that will improve the performance of the software. Adaptive – the ways of doing things in the organisation may change. Software will need to be adapted to cope with this change. Corrective – correcting faults or bugs that did not reveal themselves during testing.
Maintenance teams When software is first introduced there are usually problems for the first couple of months. Maintenance teams consisting of programmers and technical staff will help resolve any problems. As problems die down, maintenance teams concentrate on adaptive and perfective maintenance.
User support Help-desks are created to support users. Frequent calls about the same problem may necessitate the maintenance teams making adjustments to the software. User problems may also identify a need for user training.
Testing Topic 10 Introducing large ICT systems into organisations
Scale Small organisations often have the same information needs as large organisations. Connect2U for newsagents is one such system. NHS systems are capable of being used locally or nationally.
Reliability and testing Testing large systems is more complicated, as testing each unit needs to take place before the whole system is tested. Unit testing verifies the programming code for a particular unit works properly. Integration testing tests the combined units. System testing covers both hardware and software and tests the whole system.
Designing testing to ensure reliable operation Software testing can be one of two types: White box testing. Black box testing.
White box testing Testing of the program by people who are familiar with programming and the program code itself.
Black box testing Testing by people who don’t look at the programming code. Instead they look at the output produced and they also check to see if the requirements and the specifications have been met.
Alpha testing This is the first stage in the testing of computer products such as software, before they are released for public use. This is usually coordinated by the hardware manufacturer or software producer. It uses data that is selected by the software producer.
Beta testing Is conducted by users selected by the software producer. Tests the program by operating it under realistic conditions. Heavy duty, demanding users are chosen so that any bugs or shortcomings are exposed before final release. With bespoke software, this will be the first time that the software is tested off-site using real ‘live’ data.
Testing networks Usually involves: Checking the security of any wireless links (i.e., ensuring that the encryption is working correctly and hackers cannot intercept signals). Checking the capacity of the network to carry high volumes of traffic at certain times. Testing wireless signal strength by positioning of antenna, checking error rates, etc. Testing to find network bottlenecks.
Topic 11 Training and supporting users
Internal and external users Users who work for the organisation that owns the ICT system are called internal users. Any users who may not work in the organisation that owns the ICT system are called external users.
Examples of external users Car showrooms – they use the car manufacturer’s systems to place orders (e.g., model, colour, engine size, optional extras). Financial advisors – use the systems of banks, building societies and insurance companies. Accountants – use the systems of HM Revenue and Customs.
Many external users are franchisees Franchisees operate their businesses independently but need to use the systems of the franchise organisation for marketing, ordering, etc.
Different levels of staff need different functionality Need to match training to job and role. Staff involved in day-to-day routine tasks need training for these. Managers need to learn how to extract information for planning and decision making. Managers need to learn about management information systems (MIS).
Problems in training external users Location – can be global. Hard to assess amount and type of training needed. Hard to justify time out for training when not training own employees. Logistical difficulties (e.g., time and place to suit everyone).
Overcoming the problems in training external users Use CBT (computer-based training) which does not involve travel. Use questionnaires to assess existing skills and knowledge. Collect information about function and role so training can be personalised.
Methods of training external users Videoconferencing. Distance learning using CBT. Sending staff for instructor-led training at a central location or on customer’s premises.
Situations which give rise to a training need 1 Changes in procedures. Changes in legislation. New ICT system (full or part system). Change in use of the current ICT system. Increased functionality added to the existing system. Users want to learn more advanced features.
Situations which give rise to a training need 2 Adoption of a new operating system (e.g., users converting to Microsoft Vista). Induction training for new employees. Training in organisation’s policies (e.g., Internet acceptable use policy).
Training methods available Instructor-based classroom training. One-to-one training. Cascade training. Computer-based training (CBT). Distance learning. Use of manuals, books, software guides.
User support Used to supplement a training programme. Provides support when users start using the system on their own. Can deal with issues when software is installed and used with different combinations of hardware and software. Need to be mindful that problems stop users from getting work completed.
User support options include Existing user base. Help-desks. User support fromsoftware producers. Support articles (e.g., computer magazines, books, FAQ, etc.). On-screen help. Specialist bulletin boards/blogs.
Training and supporting customers The main interfaces available are: keyboard and mouse voice recognition systems touch screens.
Factors to consider when creating a good interface Consistency of signposting and pop-up information. On-screen help. Layout appropriate to task. Differentiation in user expertise. Clear navigational structure. Use by disabled people.
Choosing an interface – factors to consider Whether it is possible or appropriate to train the user. How complex the system is. The money available for perfecting the interface.
Managing the interface between the organisation and its customers E-mail support. User manuals. Feedback from users. Ensuring on-line help meets the needs of users.