System fundamentals (20 hours)
1.1.1 Identify the context for which a new system is planned.
• What is the problem that the new system is going to
Alternative solutions
Staffing: numbers, training
Compatibility with existing systems
Infrastructure requirements, eg existing network
Bespoke (custom-made) software versus off-the-shelf
1.1.2 Describe the need for change management.
• Communication of the need for and benefits of change
• Users may require training
• Recruitment may be necessary to bring in suitable
Stakeholder support
Planning, milestones, completion date
Dependencies between project stages/components
Compatibility between old system and new system
1.1.3 Outline compatibility issues resulting from situations
including legacy systems or business mergers.
• Legacy system: an old technology or computer system, often
one that is inherited by one company when another company is
bought out
• When two businesses merge, their computer systems may be
incompatible with each other eg in terms of
• Operating systems
• Data formats
• Hardware
• Legacy systems are not always immediately replaced for a
number of possible reasons:
• They might still work well
• It might be too costly to develop a new system
• Perhaps users are comfortable and retraining would be too much of an
• Perhaps nobody understands how it works!
1.1.4 Compare the implementation
of systems using a client’s hardware
with hosting systems remotely.
Software-as-a-service is the idea that your software
needs are provided by a remotely hosted system,
that is managed by an ASP (Application Service
Provider), rather than having your own hardware
and technical staff. Most organisations have some
mix of in-house and outsourced systems.
• This point is about whether you should buy hardware for your
system and manage it yourself (in-house), or rent the hardware
and have someone else host and manage it (outsourced)
 High initial cost (have to buy
 Low initial cost (hosting company
owns hardware)
 Technical skill required meaning
recruitment costs and possibly high
salary costs
 No technical skill required (hosting
company has its own skilled staff)
 Low ongoing cost (no rental or
management fee)
 High ongoing cost (rental of
hardware or management services)
 Full control
 Loss of full control
 All data kept within the organisation
 Potentially security/confidentiality
1.1.5 Evaluate alternative installation processes.
Parallel running
Old system and new system at the same time.
• Very low risk because even if new system
doesn’t work the old system is still there to cope
with problems.
• May need extra employees to work both
systems at the same time. More work and higher
salary costs.
Pilot running
New system used by a some limited group, perhaps
one office, rather than the whole company.
• Again low risk because old system is still
• Cheaper than parallel running in terms of extra
staff and extra work required.
• Risk that new system problems won't be
detected because number of users and amount
of data is unrepresentative.
Phased conversion
Going from old system to new system in steps.
• Longer period of time in which employees can
learn to use the new system.
• Low risk of large problems because each phase
implies only a small change.
• Not always possible. Some systems are all or
nothing and cannot be introduced in stages.
Direct changeover
"Big bang" or "flicking the switch". Going from old
system to new system overnight.
Lowest cost if all goes well.
Substantial risk from problems with the new system
because old system is no longer there to rely on.
1.1.6 Discuss problems that may arise as a part of data migration.
• Data migration is the process of moving data from one
system to another, usually an older system to a newer
• Issues that can arise (according to the guide) are:
• Incompatible file formats, data structures, validation rules
• Incomplete data transfer
• International conventions on dates, currencies and character sets
• Data often has to undergo a conversion process before it
can be loaded into the new system.
1.1.7 Suggest various types of testing.
How important is testing? Implementation of a buggy
system can lead to loss of productivity, customer
dissatisfaction and can mean that users don't want
to use the system. This last problem can be very
difficult to undo.
Consider how important testing is for each of the
implementation strategies in 1.1.5.
These are not mutually exclusive alternatives. There is some crossover
between them:
• Debugging: Ongoing. Happens during development
• Alpha testing: The first stage of testing, done by the programmers
• Beta testing: Later testing, done by future users when the system is almost
• Black-box testing: Testing what the system is supposed to do, from the point
of view of the user, with no knowledge of how the program does what it does
• White-box testing: Testing the system from the point of view of the
programmer, with full knowledge of how it does what it does
• Unit testing: Testing the modules or components of the system separately
• System testing: Testing the system as a whole
• Acceptance testing: The last testing phase once the system is delivered to
the user
• Automated testing: Using software to test software
1.1.8 Describe the importance of user documentation.
• Non-technical (as opposed to sytem documentation)
• Installation, operation, troubleshooting
• Sample data and screens
• One of the biggest difficulties with a new system is a
userbase that is unwilling or unable to adopt the new
system (old habits die hard)
• Good user documentation can go a long way to making a
new system successful by easing the transition
1.1.9 Evaluate different methods of providing user
• Paper manuals:
• Don't need to be near a computer
• Need multiple copies
• Online manuals:
• Can make use of rich media
• Can search
• Always available
• Interactive tutorials:
• Makes the learning process more interesting
• Dedicated support teams:
• Can give accurate, focused assistance
• Increases salary bill
1.1.10 Evaluate different methods of delivering user training.
• Company must provide time
for training and have a
training plan
Basic computer skills – what
does the system assume you
already know?
Different training for different
roles, eg administrator,
superuser, end-user
Online interactive training
A support department
"Hands-on" – practise with
the system itself
Group activities and role play
Blogs, wikis, forums, FAQs
Getting feedback from users
• Self-study from printed material may be slow, boring,
inauthentic and requires users to be highly motivated.
Learning in groups and classes can help users to feel more
secure and involved, but it takes time out of the working day
and users might be unwilling to attend classes in their free
Online/remote training or assistance can reduce travel costs
but there can be problems with time zones
Interactive programs make learning fun and don't need to be
managed by a person. However, they may provide less
focused training and be unable to respond to a particular user's
Practice with the system itself is the most authentic learning
experience but it could cause problems with live data.
Allowing users to give feedback gives them a sense of
Forums and FAQs allow the users to build their own
A variety of training methods gives users a spectrum of
learning experiences.
Dedicated support teams can give focused attention and
provide a personal touch.
1.1.11 Identify a range of causes of data loss.
• Viruses, malware, deliberate deletion of data
• Natural disasters, such as fire, earthquake, flooding.
• Hardware failure
• User error (accidental deletion)
• Physical damage, eg dropping a hard disk
• Power failure can cause data that has not already been
written to disk to be lost. It can be mitigated by using a
UPS (uninterruptible power supply)
• Back-ups are essential but they present extra security
1.1.12 Outline the consequences of data loss in a specified
• Business activities may have to be suspended
• You can't deliver goods to your customers if you have lost all their
• You can't bill your customers if you have lost their account details
• It is damaging to an organisation's reputation
• Customers may have to be notified
• There may be costs associated with replacing the data
1.1.13 Describe a range of methods that can be used to prevent
data loss.
• Back-up
• Removable media: Cheap, simple to install (USB), large capacity,
easy to move offsite.
• Offsite: Take back-ups offsite in case of disasters like fire or flooding.
• Online: Always available, need internet connection, possible security
• Antivirus: Prevent malware from deleting/editing data.
• Failover and redundancy:
• A redundant system is a clone of an existing that is kept up-to-date in
case the primary system fails
• Failover is the process of detecting a failure of the primary system and
switching users to the redundant system
• This is often done with large enterprise servers because of the high
cost that would be associated with a server outage
1.1.14 Describe strategies for managing releases and updates.
• The software life cycle involves continuous monitoring, testing, bug-
fixing and re-development
• Hence the need for multiple releases and updates of software
• Reasons include:
Bug-fix (often called a "patch")
Security threat
User requests
Additional features
• Mechanism: Software compares current release with latest release via
internet. If the current release is out-of-date, the newer version is
downloaded and installed.
• Some software allows automatic update option, eg Windows update.
• Possible issue: How do you know that the update is genuine? How do
you know that it doesn't grant the software extra privileges that you
wouldn't have agreed to on first installation, eg accessing your contacts?
• Possible solution: On first install, Android apps have to declare the
privileges they require, and they can update themselves only if they do
not require extra privileges.
1.2.1 Define the terms: hardware, software, peripheral, network,
human resources.
• Hardware: The machines, wiring, and other physical
components of a computer or other electronic system
Software: The instructions and data that can be stored
electronically in a computer system.
Peripheral: A computer device, such as a CD-ROM drive
or a printer, that is not part of the main computer but
which is added to provide some extra function.
Network: A group of two or more computers linked via a
wired or wireless communication medium.
Human resources: The personnel or workers of a
business or organization, esp. when regarded as a
significant asset.
1.2.2 Describe the roles that a computer can take in a networked
• Client: A computer on a network that makes requests to a server.
Example: Your computer on the school network. When you go to
student resources and double-click a file you are making a reques of
the school's file server.
Server: A computer on a network that listens to and responds to
requests from clients. Examples are file servers, database servers,
web servers, etc.
Email server: A computer on a network dedicated to sending and
receiving email.
DNS server: DNS = Domain Name Service. A computer on a network
that translates between user-friendly names of network resources and
their numerical IP address. Example: User-friendly name:, IP address:
Router: A computer on a network that is responsible for sending
network packets to the right host, subnet or network.
Firewall: A computer on a network that limits the flow of data packets
for a number of different reasons including: port number, application,
1.2.3 Discuss the social and ethical issues associated with a
networked world
• Zzzzz
• See notes to 1.2.11
• See discussion in Topic 3
1.2.4 Identify the relevant stakeholders when planning a new
A "stakeholder" is any person or organization that is actively
involved in a project, or whose interests may be affected
positively or negatively by execution of a project.
Examples are:
• End-users of the planned system
• Basic user, superuser, administrator
• Other employees
• Customers
• Suppliers
• Shareholders
• Unions
• Local community
• Etc
1.2.5 Describe methods of obtaining requirements from
• Surveys:
• Adv: You can get information from a lot of people quickly
• Disadv: The survey may not ask the right questions. Qualitative
information difficult to quantify.
• Interviews:
• Adv: Stakeholders can make you aware of things you hadn't
thought of, unlike with survey in which their answers are restricted
• Disadv: Time-consuming. Stakeholders may give biased
• Direct observations:
• Adv: Avoids bias.
• Disadv: Time-consuming. Observer can affect the process.
1.2.6 Describe appropriate techniques for gathering the
information needed to arrive at a workable solution.
• Examine the current system to see how it works. What
are the inputs and outputs? What processing is done?
What different roles are there for the users?
• Competing products can give ideas about different way
to achieve the same aim.
• Organisational capabilities. Are there experts within the
organisation who can be consulted?
• A literature search is the term given to a systematic
study to previous project reports to in an attempt to see if
the problem has already been solved by someone else
1.2.7 Construct suitable representations to illustrate system
Structure diagram
• This just shows how something can be broken down. It
doesn't imply any sort of sequence.
• You probably all did one as part of your IA
• I would be surprised to see this on the exam outside of an
inheritance hierarchy diagram
task A
task B
task C
1.2.7 Construct suitable representations to illustrate system
Data Flow Diagram
• DFDs are very specific things and constructing them
takes a long time
• I can't believe there is any way you will be asked to create
one in an exam
1.2.7 Construct suitable representations to illustrate system
Systems Flowchart
• I have seen this regularly on the exam
• Exact use of the right symbol is not important
• You need to think about inputs, processing, outputs
• They are often X-shaped with inputs at the top of the X,
processing as the middle, and outputs at the bottom
Calculate Pay
1.2.7 Construct suitable representations to illustrate system
Systems Flowchart Examples
Customer orders are collected on
paper, keyed in, and stored in the
customer orders file. A stock master
file is searched to determine whether
sufficient stock is available and an
appropriate report is produced.
Construct a systems flowchart
representing the process described
above. [5 marks]
A program accesses a text file on disk. To
edit the text the user of the program enters
data using a keyboard. The program then
amends the text which was read from the
file, writes the updated file back to disk
and produces a printed report of all
amendments made to the text file.
Construct a systems flowchart
representing the process. [4 marks]
A sequential transaction file is sorted,
stored onto a hard disk,
and a printed report is produced.
Construct a systems flowchart
representing the process. [4 marks]
1.2.8 Describe the purpose of prototypes to demonstrate the
proposed system to the client.
• Allows the user to give the developer immediate
Gives the client a better sense of what the software will be
like because it's easier to understand a prototype than,
say, a written description
Allows the developer to verify that he understands the
Allows the client to change/amend requirements before
the software is developed
This reduces costs in the long term
And saves time
1.2.9 Discuss the importance of iteration during the design
• Once the system is in use, users
might find:
• bugs
• unfulfilled requirements
• new requirements
• improvements
• There may be changes to other
systems that necessitate changes,
eg a new operating system
• Any changes to a system start a
new cycle of design and
1.2.10 Explain the possible consequences of failing to involve the
end-user in the design process.
• The end-users are the experts and they know what they need
from the system better than anyone
If users are not involved in the design process, there is an
increased chance that the software will be designed
If this happens, the client will end up not using the software
This means that the development cost will have been wasted
There may also be reduced productivity in the client
Involving the user requires constant communication in a
variety of ways, including surveys, interviews, focus groups,
responses to prototypes, etc
1.2.11 Discuss the social and ethical issues associated
with the introduction of new IT systems.
Summary of Social and Ethical Issues
privacy of the individual – security of data and information
accuracy of data and information
changing nature of work
appropriate information use
health and safety
copyright laws
Social and ethical issues in collecting
bias in the choice of what and where to collect data
accuracy of the collected data
copyright and acknowledgment of source data when collecting
the rights to privacy of individuals on whom data is collected
ergonomic issues for participants entering large volumes of data into an information system
Social and ethical issues associated with organising
current trends in organising data, such as:
the increase in hypermedia as a result of the world wide web
the ability of software to access different types of data
a greater variety of ways to organise resulting from advances in display technology
the cost of poorly organised data, such as redundant data in a database used for mail-outs
the appropriateness of a two digit date field at a time when storage and processing was more expensive, versus the
current inappropriateness
Social and ethical issues associated with analysis
unauthorised analysis of data
data incorrectly analysed
erosion of privacy from linking databases for analysis
Social and ethical issues associated with storing/retrieving
the security of stored data
unauthorised retrieval of data
advances in storage and retrieval technologies and new uses such as data matching
Social and ethical issues associated with processing
types of computers on networks
flexibility from the distributed processing of personal computers on networks
security from the centralised processing of network computers (terminals)
ownership of processed data
bias in the way participants in the system process data
Social and ethical issues associated with transmitting and receiving
accuracy of data received from the Internet
security of data being transferred
acknowledgment of data source
global network issues, time zones, date fields, exchange rates
changing nature of work for participants, such as work from home and telecommuting
current developments and future trends in digital communications, radio and television
the impact of the Internet on traditional business
Social and ethical issues associated with displaying
communication skills of those presenting displays
past, present and emerging trends in displays
appropriate displays for a wide range of audiences, including:
standards for display for the visually impaired
displays suitable for young children
Social and ethical issues associated with Planning, Design and Implementation
machine-centred systems simplify what computers do at the expense of participants
human-centred systems as those that make participants’ work as effective and satisfying as possible
how the relationships between participants change as a result of the new system
ensuring the new system provides participants with a safe work environment
awareness of the impact the system may have on the participants:
opportunities to use their skills
meaningful work
need for change
opportunities for involvement and commitment
Social and ethical issues related to information systems and databases
acknowledgment of data sources
the freedom of information act
privacy principles
accuracy of data and the reliability of data sources
access to data, ownership and control of data
new trends in the organisation, processing, storage and retrieval of data such as data warehousing and data-mining
Social and ethical issues related to communication systems
the use of communication systems to share knowledge, not just data
issues related to messaging systems
implications of Internet trading including:
security of banking details
changing nature of work
branch closure and job loss
the removal of physical boundaries by enabling:
local taxation laws
employment ramifications
nature of business
trading over the Internet and its commercial implications
the difficulties of censoring content on the Internet
issues arising from Internet banking, including:
ideas delivered by this means appear less forceful and caring than ideas delivered personally
danger of being misinterpreted
power relationships
privacy and confidentiality
electronic junk mail
information overload
work from home
virtual organisations, ie organisations structured around the communication system
removal of national and international barriers to trade
how participants are supported:
individuals by providing a means for communication
participant teams by enabling the exchange of ideas and data
the emerging trend of accessing media such as radio and video across the Internet
Social and ethical issues related to multimedia systems
copyright: the acknowledgment of source data and the ease with which digital data can be modified
appropriate use of the Internet and the wide spread application of new developments on it such as live video data
the merging of radio, television, communications and the Internet with the increase and improvements in digitisation
the integrity of the original source data in educational and other multimedia systems
Social and ethical issues related to transaction processing systems
changing nature of work and the effect on participants, including:
the need for non-computer procedures to deal with transactions when the computer is not available in real time systems
bias in data collection:
when establishing the system and deciding what data to collect
when collecting data
the importance of data in transaction processing, including:
the automation of jobs once performed by clerks
the bypassing of clerks by people in the environment performing their former roles
(Eg collecting now done by customers using the bank's ATM machines instead of via the bank clerk)
data security
data accuracy
data integrity
control in transaction processing and the implications it has for participants in the system
1.2.12 Define the term usability.
• Usability: The notion of how easy a system is to learn and use
• Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the
first time they encounter the design?
• Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they
perform tasks?
• Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not
using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
• Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors,
and how easily can they recover from the errors?
• Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
• Ergonomics: designing and arranging things people use so
that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely
• Accessibility: The ability of people to access and benefit from
some system. Often people with disabilities or special needs.
1.2.13 Identify a range of usability problems with commonly used
digital devices.
Students should be aware of usability issues in a range of
devices including PCs, digital cameras, cell phones, games
consoles, MP3 players and other commonly used digital
devices. [IB guide]
• Confusing navigation
• Lack of help
• No search facility
• Small, fiddly buttons
• Too complex, too many functions
1.2.14 Identify methods that can be used to improve the
accessibility of systems.
• Touch screen
• Voice recognition
• Text-to-speech
• Braille keyboard
• Screen magnifier
• Font adjustment and zoom
1.2.15 Identify a range of usability problems that can occur in a
These should be related to the following systems:
• Ticketing: I have no idea what this means. Ticketing
usually applies to help desks, ie support tickets. I guess
time zones could be a problem when you need online
• Online payroll: Internet downtime, currency dependent
• Scheduling: Time zone wrong
• Voice recognition: Can't understand accents/languages or
speech-impaired users
• Systems that provide feedback: Feedback not provided in
a usable format. Compatibility.
1.2.16 Discuss the moral, ethical, social, economic and
environmental implications of the interaction between humans
and machines.
• Oh God no. Please make it stop. Make the bad man go
• See 1.2.11

Topic 1 - Justin Robertson