Business Systems Analysis

Introduction to Ethics in Information Technology

This document extends the instructions on the course website. Read the instructions on the course website in addition to this document.

This assessment consists of

  • A case study that requires you to apply your learning from the systems planning module.
  • An ethical analysis which requires you to apply one of the readings provided on the course website.
  • A conceptual development section that requires you to consider how systems planning tasks impact on a systems development project.
  • A peer review/learning reflection section; students who are working in teams are to answer the peer review questions; students working independently are to answer the learning reflection questions.

The feedback sheet lists the assessment criteria. Look for it on the assessment’s webpage. Take note of which sections carry the most marks.

Note that this document’s word count is 3650 without any answers, so

  • Don’t worry if the final word count seems high.
  • Also, there are some diagrams in this assessment so don’t worry if the final word count seems low.

Draw the diagrams by hand, photograph, and insert the photographs in this file. If you prefer, you can use Word’s drawing tools (or some other drawing or modelling software) but you may find working with pen and paper is faster, easier to amend, less cumbersome, and more reliable with respect to layout.

Instructions of Ethics in Information Technology

In the previous study period, teams spent an average of 41 hours on this assessment.

  • Pace your team accordingly.
  • For best results
    • Do not attempt to complete the whole assessment in one session.
    • Work slowly and carefully.

In addition to the instructions on the course website

  • Do not overlook the ‘Why?’ questions.
  • Read the case study carefully.
  • Keep track of the hours you spend.

Make assumptions where necessary. Scope for assumptions has been deliberately included in this assessment because it is often necessary to make assumptions openly when dealing with a client who is under-informed with respect to information systems. Label assumptions clearly. Here’s an example from a previous study period,

Assumption: As the passengers of Titanic II may be from any nation, we have assumed a currency converter is required for the ticket-purchasing function.

Case Study: Nexus Distribution

From the Systems Planning Assignment

Nexus Distribution is a small film distribution agency that focuses on limited release art-house films. It has been in business for a decade and has an existing information system for administering its business processes. Joy Moody started Nexus with her long-time professional contact Deane Jackson. Joy has a leadership and marketing role and Deane manages operations. Louise Taylor and Elizabeth Page are spotters who attend film festivals (eg Sundance, Cannes, Sydney, Toronto, London, etc), identifying films that align with the Nexus Distribution focus, bidding for, and often signing, those films. This team of four work closely to sign 15-20 films each year, optimising the distribution of each film so that returns for Nexus and for their clients (the film-makers and the theatres) are maximised.

The existing information system consists of three databases.

  • Catalogue
  • Distribution Network
  • Travel

Louise and Elizabeth do most of their work while travelling and they communicate with Deane via email, text messaging and phone calls. Louise and Elizabeth attend only the largest film festivals together; usually they work independently of each other. When they are at a film festival, they work highly irregular hours and, in addition to the tasks outlined above, their work includes socialising with, and occasionally entertaining, potential and existing clients. Clients are entertained when the film they have made is of such high quality that more than one distribution agency is competing for its distribution rights. In these cases, Elizabeth and Louise take the clients out for dinner or to a bar in order to build robust working relationships and to create an opportunity for uninterrupted discussion of why and how the client’s interests are best served by Nexus. Louise and Elizabeth are consummate networkers; they are confident, good-humoured and charming in all social circumstances, building relationships with and between people working at all levels of the international art-house film industry.

However, the communication practices between Nexus staff are not up to date and this has led to inefficiencies and wastage of Louise and Elizabeth’s talents and efforts. As their time at film festivals is expensive (flights, accommodation, registration fees, entertainment costs, etc) it is desirable that their time is not wasted. For example, a new film may be shown at several film festivals simultaneously; if Elizabeth has already seen it at Toronto and passed on it (or bid for it and signed it), when Louise is at the Venice film festival, she does not need to waste her time viewing that film and can focus on other films. There are many other instances in which their communication practices fail to optimise the (mostly asynchronous) day-to-day collaborations between Louise, Elizabeth and Deane.

While Louise and Elizabeth work on building Nexus’s catalogue, Deane builds its distribution network (in addition to his significant administrative role). This entails signing various distribution service providers (both independent and chain) to the Nexus distribution network. A distribution service provider might be a VOD (Video on Demand) provider, a chain of theatres, an independent theatre, etc. Deane spends about half of his recruitment effort approaching providers that do not already screen art-house films. The other half is spent on providers which already adopt an art-house focus. While it is a key facet of the Nexus business model, building the distribution network does not consume anywhere near as much effort, money and time as spotting films. Deane estimates that for every dollar spent on building the distribution network, a hundred are spent on spotting films.

Deane is directly responsible for accounting, travel arrangements and reporting. Also, he is indirectly responsible for contracts, which he outsources to a legal firm specialising in contracts for this type of work.

Joy’s role is largely centred on vision and leadership. However, prior to starting Nexus she built a reputation in film marketing and her practical skills in this area are an essential ingredient in Nexus’s success. Every time a new film is signed to Nexus, Joy, Deane, Louise, Elizabeth and the film-makers have a four hour meeting. Occasionally, these meetings are in person, but more often they are held online. These meetings can be hard to schedule because participants are very busy and in different time zones.

During these meetings, in order to design the film’s marketing strategy, they leverage Louise or Elizabeth’s observations of the film, Deane’s knowledge of the Nexus distribution network, Joy’s marketing expertise and the client’s vision. A marketing strategy includes artistic vision, media, release windows and release schedule.

Artistic vision is primarily driven by the client and Joy with input from Louise or Elizabeth. It is actioned by Deane, who reviews the artists who have worked with Nexus in the past, considers the artistic vision, and prioritises the artists according to how well their unique talent, reliability and experience match up with the marketing strategy’s artistic vision. After the meeting, Deane approaches the artists one by one to discuss their availability and to eventually establish a contract.

Media (film, video, television, DVD, VOD, etc) is negotiated between Joy, whose mission is to optimise returns, and the film-maker, whose mission is exposure. With input from Louise and Elizabeth, who have viewed more films than anyone else in the meeting and who therefore have the most comprehensive view of the international market, a binding consensus is reached and documented.

Joy and Deane, who aim to maximise the size of the audience, are largely responsible for determining release windows and schedule, however the client’s needs are taken into consideration. This is achieved by application of market intelligence and expertise. In most cases, a film is screened in theatres on a schedule that will maximise the audience (eg avoidance of major cultural events, avoidance of similar films, knowledge of forthcoming films, etc). Also, films are screened in theatres (primary distribution service providers) prior to being released via secondary distribution service providers (eg VOD service providers, DVD runs, etc). The duration for which the film is screened in theatres depends upon various factors (audience, the film’s performance in other markets, the agreement between Nexus and the film-makers, the agreement between Nexus and the theatres, etc). For most films, the theatrical release date is preceded by four weeks of postering and trailers, wherever possible working with the film-makers in order to leverage the social profiles of those who worked on the film (eg the actors and crew). For highly anticipated films, these four weeks may extend to six or eight and may require Deane to schedule interviews for the film-makers or actors with local media.

Although the existing IS meets Nexus’s administrative needs, the ongoing daily communication problems and the difficulties of scheduling and running online meetings need to be addressed. Deane thinks Nexus needs its own app so that database updates can be done by anyone at any time and he has contacted your workplace, IT Foundry, to enquire further. You have been allocated the task of systems planning for the development of an app for Nexus.

Also, although they are very talented, experienced and respected in their fields, the entire Nexus team are inexperienced in systems analysis and design. They are confident you will come up with relevant ideas, they anticipate your suggestions and they expect you to catalyse and drive all technical aspects of the project. These clients are very much open to suggestion.

New Information

The preliminary investigation you wrote up for the Nexus project enabled you to develop a basic understanding of the business context. Your scope lists captured the project’s key elements and made a positive impression on Joy, Deane, Louise and Elizabeth. They have approved the project’s progression to system analysis and you have scheduled a meeting with them.

Recall: you can make assumptions in this assignment (as noted in the instructions above). Also, you can use the course forum if you have any questions.

  1. Prepare for this meeting. Write an agenda that includes six topics you would like to discuss with them (if you do not know what an agenda is, look it up on the internet). These topics should be derived from your planning documents and should enable your clients to talk about the things you need to know during systems analysis (eg, the data and how it is processed).

Put your answer here.

After this meeting, the following requirements are known:

  • Louise and Elizabeth must be able to enter data into the Catalogue database from their smartphones
  • Louise and Elizabeth must be able to query the Catalogue database with their smartphones
    • For example, when they are planning their viewing schedule Louise and Elizabeth need to be able to check whether a film has already been viewed and signed (or passed on)
  • Dean must be able to enter, access and amend data in the Travel and DistributionNetwork databases from his smartphone and from his desktop computer
  • Louise and Elizabeth must be able to view future travel itineraries and hotel bookings on their smartphones
  • Louise and Elizabeth must be able to enter, access and amend information on their relationships with clients or contacts from their smartphones
    • For example, a new client or contact’s name; if they are a filmmaker (a director or a producer), which film and how were they involved with that film; if they’re not a filmmaker, what their business is and why the relationship is important to Nexus; whether the client or contact was made by Louise or Elizabeth; when and where the client or contact was made; their entertainment preferences; etc
    • A new database will be needed for this relationship data
  • Joy must be able to view summaries of recent business activity from her smartphone and from her desktop computer
  • Joy wants to be able to tailor these summaries on an ad hoc basis
    • Examples include recently established client relationships; recently signed films; Louise or Elizabeth’s notes on the recently signed films; recently planned travel; an annual overview of the film festivals attended by Louise and Elizabeth; when and where these festivals are held, etc.
  • The whole team must be able to schedule and conduct meetings on smartphones (Joy, Deane, Louise and Elizabeth) and desktop computers (Joy and Deane)
    • Scheduling must account for Louise and Elizabeth’s travel itineraries and for whichever time zone they will be in at the time and date of the meeting
    • No one from Nexus will be involved in scheduling – the system will automatically find the four best dates and times
      • These dates and times will be sent to the client (their contact details will be in the new relationship database or, if necessary, the app will alert Deane and he will look up the contact details in his paper file, enter the details and, accordingly, the app will update the relationship database)
      • The client will choose which of the four dates and times is best for them
      • The app will make the booking, alert all participants, update their calendars and, on the day, provide an alert 15 minutes before the meeting starts
    • It must be possible for a client to call in to these meetings (Skype, phone, any other method)
    • Meetings must be voice recorded for future reference
    • A new database will be needed for the meetings data

You make a start on systems analysis. You realise more detailed information will come to light over time, which may require you to amend your current analysis.

Recall: you can make assumptions in this assignment (as noted in the instructions above). Also, you can use the course forum if you have any questions.

  1. What is the purpose of data flow diagrams?

Put your answer here.

  1. Do data flow diagrams show system logic and decision points? Explain.

Put your answer here.

  1. Why is it important for a systems analyst to understand how data flows through an information system?

Put your answer here.

  1. Draw a context diagram for the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. Draw a Level 0 DFD for the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. With respect to DFDs, what does ‘balanced’ mean?

Put your answer here.

  1. Draw two Level 1 DFDs for the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. Write a brief ‘how to’ guide (100-200 words) to help the Nexus team understand your DFD diagrams.

Put your answer here.

  1. List the data stores and data elements in your DFDs, showing the data elements for each data store.

Put your answer here.

  1. Draw a FDD for the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. Identify and name four of the functional primitives in the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. Draw a modular design for two of the functional primitives named in your previous answer.

Put your answer here.

  1. Write a Structured English description for each of the other two functional primitives.

Put your answer here.

  1. For which components of the Nexus information system will you recommend prototyping? Why?

Put your answer here.

Note that UML will be assessed in detail in the exam.

  1. Explain how you will make the build or buy decisions for the Nexus information system.

Put your answer here.

  1. Your team has been asked to give a 30-minute presentation to Joy, Deane and your manager at IT Foundry, using a PowerPoint presentation. How many slides will you include and what are their titles?

Put your answer here.

Ethical Analysis

Through your work analysing Nexus’s data requirements, you become aware of some unusual entertainment expenses on Elizabeth’s account. While she may have incurred these expenses legitimately, there are no similar transactions in Louise’s account. You are fully aware that Elizabeth and Louise regularly entertain potential clients and you are aware that this is an important method of developing clientele and industry knowledge. You are also aware that Elizabeth and Louise drive the Nexus business processes, creating business opportunities and building good-will for Nexus. However, these transactions are unusual and, according to your personal moral points of reference, sensitive. You are undecided as to whether you should inform anyone, and if so, who.

Analyse this scenario by responding the following questions. These questions encourage you to apply the stages of the ethical decision-making process described in Reynolds (2015). This reading can be located on the course web site. Do not overlook the ‘Why?’ questions as these support the development of your certitude.

  1. Make a list of the facts relevant to the ethical problem.

A very famous writer had designed an ethical decision making process in his book[1]. There are certain steps involved-

  1. Develop a Problem Statement
  2. Identify Alternatives
  3. Evaluate and Choose Alternatives
  4. Implement Decision
  5. Evaluate Results

As per the step 1, the fact that there were some unusual expenses in Elizabeth’s account - it is a problem. Since she and Louise do same kind of work, none were there in his accounts. They are working at the leisure of Nexus and all of the expenses they incur is borne by the company.

  1. List the stakeholders and their positions.

The stakeholders here are Joy and Deane who have to bear the burden of Elizabeth’s expenses. Joy is the founder of Nexus. He deals in marketing and acts as a leader while Deane is manages the operations.

  1. You have not yet made a decision. However, a decision is forthcoming. When the decision is made, what will its consequences be?

So if any decision have to be made it could lead to

  1. Elizabeth being fired from her job if she is proven to have done any misconduct.
  2. It shall set a standard in Nexus and also help Joy and Deane in understanding why Elizabeth did. Maybe it could be for the betterment of the company which Joy and Deane weren’t able to see in the first instance.
  3. She could be given a warning to not repeat such fraud the next time.
  4. Consider virtue ethics, utilitarianism, fairness, and the common good. When used correctly, these philosophical theories may lead your decision in a different direction.
    1. What does a virtue ethics framework tell you about the ethical problem?

It shows the moral virtues of the problem-solver and the community he belongs to. It is focused on the behavioural aspect of a person meaning how he should behave and how he should take care of his daily life relationships if they need to carry on with a smooth life.

  1. What does utilitarianism tell you about the ethical problem?

It focuses on a greater good or benefit rather on the harm or loss. It means that one should take notice of anything that is the best alternate option for all the people who are directly and indirectly affected by the decision. It is all about finding a singular good that is greater and beneficial for all the affected people.

  1. What does fairness tell you about the ethical problem?

It treats everyone the same and does not show any biasness or any prejudice. It is about that how any decision is fair and good enough for sharing out benefits and to lessen their burden for the people. In short, it is about equality amongst all and not just among equals.

  1. What does the common good tell you about the ethical problem?

The choices the problem-solver makes is for the betterment of the common people. It is the revelation of the people of the society to work in harmony with one another to achieve common interest of the society.

  1. Identify and describe three different responses to the ethical problem.
  2. Why are we doing this?
  3. What is the loophole in the current manner of work we do?
  4. Will the new way yield any benefits after change?
  5. Which response is the best and why?

The last response, ‘will the new way yield any results after the change is implemented’ is the best response. This is because whatever any organisation do they must focus on time-management and profitability. Any organisation must invest its resources and its energy where they seem to yield any result. Hence this is the best way as any reaction to the ethical problem must be calculated on the basis of will be it profitable to them.

  1. Refer to the stakeholders. How does the best response impact on the stakeholders?

Put your answer here.

Conceptual Development and Risk Identification

So far, this assignment has supported the development of skills required in professional practice, including ethics. Now, it supports the development of professional expertise.

Consider the Nexus case study and the systems analysis your team has completed. You may have completed the analysis with a lot of care. If so, your analysis is more likely to be effective in supporting future project activities.

Consider a situation in which the analysis was conducted in a careless manner.

  1. What is the overall purpose of the systems analysis phase of a project and how does it differ from the systems planning phase?

Put your answer here.

  1. With respect to the systems analysis tasks completed above, identify problems that may arise for the following stakeholders. Your answer should have six unique problems (two per stakeholder).
    1. Nexus

Put your answer here.

  1. Nexus’s customers or the wider community

Put your answer here.

  1. Your own future work tasks (systems design tasks)

Put your answer here.

  1. With reference to any three of the problems you have identified above, what are your conclusions about the importance of attention to detail with respect to systems analysis?

Put your answer here.

Recall the systems planning assessment asked you to draw some conclusions about the importance of attention to detail during systems planning activities. In this assignment, you are thinking about and demonstrating systems analysis.

  1. Read and think about your answer to question 21 of the Systems Planning assessment. Compare it to your answer to question 27 Identify and discuss two important differences in your answers. Note: this question does not ask you to compare systems planning and systems analysis. Instead, it asks you to compare what you think about these two topics.

Put your answer here.

Peer Review – to Be Completed by Students Working in Teams

Everyone in your team must visit course website and review their teammates after the submission of the assignment. When reviewing one of your peers, tell them three things they did well and three things they can improve.

NOTE: the systems design assessment will ask students to consider their weaknesses and strengths. If you do not tell them weaknesses and strengths, they will get lower grades in this future assessment.

Warning: If one person skips the peer review, the whole team will receive a lower grade.

Thank you for your time and effort. I look forward to reading the submission.

References for Ethics in Information Technology

Reynolds, GW 2015, ‘An overview of ethics’, in Ethics in Information Technology (3rd edn), Cengage Learning, Boston, pp. 1-39.

Tilley, S & Rosenblatt, H 2017, Systems Analysis and Design, 11th edition, Cengage Learning.

[Add more references of your own. Don’t know how? Check the online study help.]

[1] Reynolds, GW 2015, Ethics in information technology (5th edn), Cengage Learning, Boston. 

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Computer Science Assignment Help

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