Systems Development and Documentation Techniques

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CHAPTER 3
SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION TECHNIQUES
SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
3.1 Identify the DFD elements in the following narrative: A customer purchases a few items from a local grocery store. Jill, a salesclerk, enters the transaction in the cash register and takes the customer’s money. At closing, Jill gives both the cash and the register tape to her manager.

Data Flows: merchandise, payment, cash and register tape

Data Source: customer

Processes: capture sales and payment data and collect payment, give cash and register tape to manager

Storage: sales file (register tape), cash register

3.2Do you agree with the following statement: “Any one of the systems documentation procedures can be used to adequately document a given system”? Explain.

It is usually not sufficient to use just one documentation tool. Every tool documents a uniquely important aspect of a given information system. For example, system flowcharts are employed to understand physical system activities including inputs, outputs, and processing. In contrast, data flow diagrams provide a graphic picture of the logical flow of data within an organization.

Each alternative is appropriate for a given aspect of the system. As a result, they work together to fully document the nature and function of the information system.

3.3Compare the guidelines for preparing flowcharts and DFDs. What general design principles and limitations are common to both documentation techniques?

Similar design concepts include the following:

* Both methods require an initial understanding of the system before actual documentation begins. This insures that the system is properly represented by the diagram.

* Both measures require the designer to identify the elements of the system and to identify the names and relations associated with the elements.
* Both methods encourage the designer to show only the regular flows of information and not to be concerned with unique situations.

* Both approaches require more than one “pass” through the diagramming or flowcharting process to accurately capture the essence of the system.

The product of both methods is a model documenting the flow of information and/or documents in an information system. Both documentation methods are limited by the nature of the models they employ, as well as by the talents and abilities of the designer to represent reality.

3.4Your classmate asks you to explain flowcharting conventions using real-world examples. Draw each of the major flowchart symbols from memory, placing them into one of four categories: input/output, processing, storage, and flow and miscellaneous. For each symbol, suggest several uses.

The major flowcharting symbols and their respective categories are shown in Fig. 3.8 in the text.

With respect to how the symbols are used, student answers will vary. Possible examples include the following:

* Input/Output Symbols
Document: an employee time card, a telephone bill, a budget report, a parking ticket, a contract Display: student information monitors, ATM monitors, the monitor on your microcomputer. Manual input: cash registers, ATM machines

* Processing Symbols
Processing: processing a student payroll program, assessing late fees Manual operation: writing a parking ticket, preparing a paper report, collecting and entering student payments

* Storage Symbols
Magnetic disk: alumni information data base, a report stored on your PC hard disk Magnetic tape: archival student information
On-line storage: a student information data base or an airline reservation data base stored on-line. File: purchase order file for a department, a student housing contract file *
Flow (Miscellaneous)
Communication link: a telephone linkage that connects you to an on-line data base.

SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO THE PROBLEMS

3.1 Prepare flowcharting segments for each of the following...
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