Understanding the life cycle installation and operation stage in information management

The third stage of the information system development life cycle begins with conversion to the new application system. The rest of the system development life cycle refers to the life of the system in use. After the system is in production, changes and enhancements are made during the operation and maintenance phase of the system. Periodically, a post audit of the system is conducted; based on this activity, the system may be modified. Enhanced, or replaced.


Conversion

Conversion to the new application system begins after all programs and procedures have been prepared and individually tested. Three major activities prepare for actual conversion: acceptance testing, file building, and user training.

Acceptance testing is testing of the completed application and comparing it to specifications. It verifies to the user that the system meets performance criteria and operational requirements. The testing includes user inputs, operating and control procedures, and outputs. Differences between what users expected and what the system delivers are identified and resolved. The acceptance test was developed as part of the planning for the system.

File building refers to the collection and conversion to machine-readable form of all new data required by the application. File building can be a long and tedious process, and careful planning is important. Ad hoc file conversion programs may be employed if the required data is already in computer-readable form. If not, the data must be gathered, coded, and entered into the database. Sufficient time and human resources should be provided to “clean up” the data, this is, remove inaccuracies and in consistencies and make the data complete.

User training may be relatively straightforward or a critical effort, depending on the degree to which the new application system affects existing jobs. If techniques such as job design are used. Training will involve substantial reorientation of the users to their jobs. Proper user training is an important factor in overcoming user resistance to new systems. Conversion form the old system to the new takes place after acceptance testing, file building, and user training are complete. Conversion can be accomplished in several ways.

The most careful method is to run the old and new system in parallel; the new system is run under actual conditions and the results are compared with the old system for reliability and accuracy. After the new system has shown consistent result for a reasonable period of time it becomes operational and the old system is dropped. The drawback to this method is that it is expensive; both machines and employees work double time. Machine time can be costly if new hardware is replacing old and both must be maintained. More important, employees are required to perform essentially two full times jobs.

One of them being new and unfamiliar. Moreover, if the system has not been sufficiently tested and errors are detected during conversion, costly delays and employees frustration can cause serious problems. If parallel processing of the old and new system is not feasible, the new systems should be tested under simulated conditions of full volume before cutting over from the old. Complete cutover is often referred to as”burning the bridges” because it ifs usually impossible to return operations to the old system once cutover takes place. Problems with the new system are correctly by “brute force” since no alternative is available. This is frequently is risky strategy, especially for system such as payroll where very little delay can be tolerated. If possible, conversion should take place gradually, one portion of the system at a time.

Operation and maintenance

When the system appears to operating without difficulty it is turned over to the information processing production function. This often requires not only approval by the user stating that the system meets predefined acceptance criteria, but also approval of the system operation and maintainability. Any subsequent changes in the application are handled as maintenance. Maintenance of an application can be classified a repairs or enhancements. Repairs are required when incomplete or incorrect coding renders the application defective. Enhancement is additions and improvements. Repairs dominate the maintenance activity for the first month of operation. Later, most of the maintenance is enhancement. Sometimes maintenance is performed by the system developers, but often it is the responsibility of a separate maintenance group.

Post audit

A desirable part of the system development life cycle is a review of the application after it has been in operation for a period. Such as a year. An audit team with representatives from users, development, maintenance, operations, and perhaps internal audit review the operation, use, cost, and benefits of the application. Recommendations from a post audit include specific recommendations for dropping, repairing, or enhancing an application and suggestions for improving the development process on subsequent application.

Project management

When an information system project is approved, its consequences are nit certain;
They are risky associated with it. The anticipated benefits may be achieved, costs may be higher than planned, time for implementation may be greater than estimated, or performance of the hardware and software may be lower than anticipated. There are three factors, recognizable prior to implementation that affects the inherent risk in a project: project size, degree of structure of task to be automated. And the level of technology of the project relative to the organization.

Implementation of information systems as an organizational change process

In one organization a well-designed system fails; a similar but poorly designed system in another organization succeeds. The reason can usually be traced to human rather than technical problems. Implementation of information systems is a process of preparing the organizational change. In this sense, implementation refers to the ongoing process of preparing the organization for the new system and introducing it in such a way as to assure its successful use. Recent research has focused on those human and organizational factors that affect the successful.

The Change Agent

Model of organizational change are useful because they identify issues that must be faced in new information system and implementation. Projects fifer in their organizational impact. If a project is well defined at the outset and involves minimal organizational change, a purely technical solution may be adequate. However, most large application systems involve considerable organizational change and require many redefinitions and reformulations before they are complete. These conditions increase the like hood that the system will not be implemented successfully without explicit change procedures.

If the systems analyst is viewed as a “ change agent “ rather than a technician under organizational change conditions, the dangers of system failure can be reduced. An active change agent can assure better communication with the user and minimize the possibility of misunderstandings. He or she stays involved through all stages of the process to assure that “ refreezing “ takes places , rather than leaving as soon as the technical systems is installed correctly . moreover, in the role of change agent, the analyst can recognize when his or her change skills and the project requirements to not mach and take the necessary action to involve others with the require skill in the implementation effort .

Mechanisms for successful Implementation

A recent study of implementation success failure across multiple information systems revealed that the probability of successful implementation of an MIS can probably be increased if special attention is paid to the following three key issues:

1, Gaining management and user commitment to the project.
2, Gaining user commitment to any changes necessitated by the new system.
3, Assuring that the project is well defined and plans are clearly specified.


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