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Enterprise-Level Business System Assessment

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Enterprise-Level Business System Assessment

Several key areas should be reviewed when assessing an enterprise-level business system. It is commonly known that errors made in the early stages of the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) can be quite costly. Therefore, careful planning, during the early stages of system development, is crucial. The use of information-gathering tools, during the analysis stage, is useful and recommended. Following will be a review of several of the information-gathering techniques available. The usefulness of business process mapping methods, and which mapping tools should be implemented during the analysis process, will also be discussed. In closing, a review of the methods an analyst can use to confirm an effective understanding of the project requirements will be provided.

There are several information-gathering methods available. One such method is a review of the current documentation or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the business. Reviewing documentation can provide current and historical information, and has minimal impact on the daily routine of the business. Negatively, the documentation review process can be time-consuming, and many processes may not be documented. Observing and documenting the activities performed by an individual or a particular system are additional methods used to retrieve information. The observation method can be quite reliable, but also may be costly and time-consuming. In addition, observing an individual may make him/her feel uncomfortable, thus impacting the way he/she performs. Another information-gathering technique is to elicit feedback about business requirements and processes from the users of the system. Feedback from actual users can be elicited via questionnaires or in-person interviews. There are benefits and disadvantages in using each type of technique. Questionnaires are a fairly inexpensive methodology, and results can typically be turned around quickly. Survey instruments can safeguard the interviewee’s anonymity and can be completed at the user’s convenience. Unfortunately, information retrieved from questionnaires may not be very detailed since the ability to probe for additional information is limited. In addition, missing data is irretrievable. In-person interviewing may provide greater details because the analyst has the ability to probe and interact with the interviewee. The analyst also has the ability to observe any nonverbal communication the interviewee may be expressing. On the down side, interviews can be quite time-consuming, and as seen with other methods, increased time typically means increased cost. Another technique is the Joint Application Design (JAD) session. A JAD session consists of a group of key stakeholders who are teamed together to discuss their opinions and the needs of the system or business. The JAD typically involves users and management personnel, and can be a useful way to brainstorm and collect information from various levels of staff. The use of CASE tools during the JAD workshop can aid in the rapid development of the proposed system, thus providing an ultimate time and cost savings.

There are two key methods used when mapping the processes of a business. The first technique is diagramming, which is “the use of flow charts and diagrams to represent the steps in a business process” (http://netg.phoenix.edu/websvm/training.asp). The second technique involves annotating the steps required without

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