ICT231 SYSTEMS ANALYSIS AND DESIGN
Semester 1 , 2011
Date Due: Friday 1st April
You should submit your assignment from the ICT231 LMS site using the Assignment course tool. You can receive email notification that your assignment has been received. For help on the submission process, go to: http://www.lms-support.murdoch.edu.au/student/assign_sub.html. Late submissions will be penalised at the rate of 5 marks per day late or part thereof.
You should submit your assignment as ONE word-processed document containing all of the required question answers. THE FILE YOU SUBMIT MUST BE NAMED USING THE FORM: FamilyNameFirstName.doc or other appropriate file extension (e.g. SmithJohn.doc). You must include a completed assignment cover page (see end of this document – copy and paste this INTO your document). You must keep a copy of the final version of your assignment as submitted and be prepared to provide it on request.
The University treats plagiarism, collusion, theft of other students’ work and other forms of dishonesty in assessment seriously. This is an INDIVIDUAL assignment. Any instances of dishonest in this assessment will be forwarded immediately to the Faculty Dean. For guidelines on honesty in assessment including avoiding plagiarism, see: http://www.murdoch.edu.au/teach/plagiarism
Please note: there is quite a lot of work in this assignment. You CANNOT leave it until the last minute!
PART 1 – Project Management
- Gantt chart, PERT diagram (network diagram) and question answers (20 marks)
PART 2 – Systems Analysis
- Problems, opportunities, objectives, and constraints matrix for the ECS (10 marks).
- List of use cases (10 marks).
- Use case diagram (10 marks).
- Detailed use case description for the Check-Out Equipment use case (10 marks).
- List of the main data entities with a brief description of what each entity is (10 marks).
- Entity relationship diagram for the new ECS (20 marks).
- Context data flow diagram for the new system (10 marks).
PART 1 – Project Management (20 Marks)
TO DO – Project Management
- Use Microsoft Project to create a Gantt chart for the following tasks to develop implement a new system. The most likely durations have been calculated for you, and the required dependencies between tasks are listed. Use Monday 14 February as the project start date. Assume a 5 day working week, and state any other assumptions you have made.
- Use the PERT (network diagram) view of the project to undertake critical path analysis and answer the following questions:
- What date should the project should be completed?
- Which tasks are on the critical path for the project?
- How much slack time is there in the schedule and where does it occur?
Note: Both the Gantt diagram and the PERT diagram should be included in the one Word document you submit for your assignment.
|Task ID||Description||Duration (days)||Predecessors|
|1||Meet with stakeholders||2||0|
|2||Review existing forms||1||0|
|3||Observation of current processes||3||1, 2|
|4||Model new entities||2||3|
|5||Model new processes||4||3|
|6||Build initial prototype||4||4, 5|
|8||Make final refinements||2||7|
PART 2 – Systems Analysis (80 marks)
- Read the attached Equipment Checkout System (ECS) case*.
- Carry out the TO DO activities throughout the case.
- Submit the required items.
*Note: This part of the assignment is based on a case prepared by Gary B. Randolph for Systems Analysis & Design Methods by Whitten, Bentley and Dittman.
Equipment Check-Out System
: Case Background
GB Manufacturing is a producer of electronic components and testing equipment. The company is located in multiple plants in the New York City area. The corporation has over 10,000 full-time employees.
Approximately 200 employees are employed with the company’s Maintenance department, which is responsible for the maintenance of building and grounds. Maintenance has assigned a group of employees to provide maintenance for each building or plant. The employees assigned to each building or plant collectively possess the skills needed to provide proper upkeep. Such employees include carpenters, electricians, painters, welders, plumbers, and the like. The Maintenance department also has a group of employees with special skills to assist with special projects that may arise.
: Organization Structure
The following individuals report directly to Bill Venkman, Director of Maintenance. Each of the managers has a group of foremen and supervisors that report directly to him or her, though only the supervisors of the Equipment Depot are listed below.
GB Manufacturing Maintenance Department
: The Problem
In early 2010 Bill Venkman and his management staff completed a one-week retreat aimed at assessing the maintenance operations. Several initiatives resulted from this retreat. It was determined that the most important initiatives were those that primarily dealt with the equipment depot operation:
The equipment depot’s function is to provide the equipment needed by maintenance employees to perform their job duties. Employees are provided with a toolbox containing commonly used, and relatively inexpensive tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, tape measures, and so on. Other tools and pieces of equipment that are needed to complete a job must be checked out through the equipment depot. When the job is completed, the employee must return the checked-out equipment.
Often pieces of equipment become lost, stolen, or damaged and are therefore never checked back in and made available for others. The dollar amount of lost and stolen equipment has reached an alarming total. It has been estimated that more than $50,000 worth of tools are lost or stolen each year. Bill Venkman has decided that something must be done to get the losses under control. Thus, he is giving top priority to the development of a new automated equipment check-out system that that will track the check-in and check out of equipment.
The Materials Warehouse is responsible for obtaining and storing supplies that are needed to complete jobs. For example, the Materials Warehouse makes sure to maintain a supply of screws, nails, plywood, drywall, and other materials. The Materials Warehouse operates in two locations. The main Materials Warehouse is a large building located approximately a mile away from the main campus. For convenience, a smaller Materials Warehouse is located near the central office and stores a small amount of the most commonly used materials. When workers need materials for a job assignment they are supposed to check both warehouses to see if the goods are available. Unfortunately, the employees are often impatient and will simply check the availability of materials at the smaller, more conveniently located warehouse. If the goods are not available, they routinely choose to simply move on to the next job assignment — rather than checking with the main warehouse. While the main warehouse will provide for the delivery of materials, employees prefer not to have to wait for their delivery. To complicate things further, even though the materials may be available at the larger warehouse, employees frequently request that the smaller warehouse order needed materials that are not in stock there. The net result is excessive inventory and inventory carrying costs!
While management is not sure of the total dollar amount that can be attributed to carrying excessive inventory, they are in agreement that it is likely very substantial. Therefore, a new and improved warehousing system is another top priority for the Maintenance Department.
The Maintenance Department receives computing support from the GB Manufacturing Information Systems Services Department (ISS). You are to assume that you work as a systems analyst with ISS. You have been asked by Dan Stantz to analyze and design the Equipment Depot system to manage equipment check-in and check-out.
DEVELOPING AN EQUIPMENT CHECK-OUT SYSTEM
: Project Planning
During project planning the question, “Is this project worth looking at?” must be answered. To answer this question, this phase must define the scope of the project and the perceived problems, opportunities, and directives that triggered the project.
The starting point for the analysis and design is the Request for Systems Services (see Appendix 1) and an initial interview you hold with Dan Stanz (see Appendix 2).
The next step in the project is to study and analyze the existing system. There is always an existing system, whether computerized or manual or some of both. Problem analysis provides the project team with a more thorough understanding of the problems, opportunities, and/or directives that triggered the project. The purpose is threefold. First the project team must gain an appropriate understanding of the business problem domain. Second, they need to answer the question, “Are these problems (opportunities, and directives) worth solving?” Finally, they need to determine if the system is worth developing.
TO DO – Problem Analysis
You should perform a cause and effect analysis and document your findings using a Problems, Opportunities, Objectives, and Constraints Matrix. Use the transcripts in Appendix 2 & Appendix 3 to help you complete the matrix (see sample matrix on LMS with material for Tutorial 2 for an example).
The analysis phase answers the question, ‘What does the user need and want from a new system?’ After having studied the current system to analyze its problems and opportunities, plus having gained approval to proceed, the business requirements for the system should be identified and then modelled. Use case modeling has gained popularity as a technique for expressing system requirements.
TO DO – Use Case Modelling
Use the results of the previous activities and transcripts of an interview with the Equipment Depot staff (see Appendix 4) to identify the system requirements for the proposed system.
- Provide a list of use cases. For each use case, provide a brief description and identify participating actors. Make assumptions where necessary.
- Prepare a use case diagram. It should show use cases and the actors that initiate the use cases. Group the uses cases into several likely subsystems.
- Prepare a fully-documented use case description for the Check-Out Equipment use case described in the interview.
Data modelling is a technique for organizing and documenting a system’s data. Data is viewed as a resource to be shared by as many processes as possible. As a result, data must be organized in a way that is flexible and adaptable to unanticipated business requirements.
TO DO – Data Modelling
Refer to the results of previous activities plus the transcript of an interview with Dan Stantz’s staff (see Appendix 5) and to some sample forms (Appendix 6 & 7) to identify the business data requirements for the proposed system. Make assumptions where necessary.
- Provide a list of the main entities with a brief description of what each entity is.
- Construct an entity relationship diagram that provides a logical model of the data for the new ECS. It must show all entities, attributes, relationships and cardinality. It should be in 3rd Normal form. Label the primary and foreign keys.
Process modelling is a technique for organizing and documenting the structure and flow of data through a system’s processes and/or the logic, policies, and procedures to be implemented by a system’s processes. Data flow diagrams are tools that depict the flow of data through a system and the work or processing performed by that system.
TO DO – Data Flow Diagrams
- Use the description below to draw a context data flow diagram for the new system.
Equipment Checkout System
The purpose of the Equipment Check-out System (ECS) is to provide maintenance employees with the equipment needed to complete their maintenance jobs. Employees will occasionally request equipment check-outs. The Equipment Depot staff will maintain records of those check-outs and provide the employees with the appropriate equipment and an equipment check-out receipt. When employees have finished with the equipment, the employee must conduct an equipment check-in at the Equipment Depot. In response to the equipment check-in, the Equipment Depot staff will maintain records of the equipment check-in and provide the employee with an equipment check-in receipt. Occasionally, supervisors will make request an equipment purchase that results in the Equipment Depot staff needing purchase equipment through equipmentdeals.com. The supplier daily sends an electronic file showing the status of all orders, which will be imported into the system so that the Equipment Depot staff can field status requests from supervisors. When the Equipment Depot staff receives ordered equipment, they will use the packing slip to verify the shipment and notify the requesting supervisor of their availability. The Safety Committee will periodically submit a list of employee skill classifications that can safely check-out any piece of equipment. Supervisors will submit the skill classifications for each employee. Upon request the system will generate a report for supervisors showing listing employees having a history of excessive equipment losses or damage. Upon request the system will generate for employees a statement detailing what equipment they have checked out and are expected to have in their possession.
The following is a copy of the transcripts of an interview between Mr. Dan Stantz and you, a systems analyst with GB Manufacturing Information Systems Services (ISS). This initial interview is conducted with a goal of obtaining facts about the problems and opportunities that have triggered the equipment check-out project request. The meeting is being held at 8:00 AM in Mr. Stantz’s office.
Dan: Good morning!
Dan: I am glad we could finally get together. I’m sorry we had trouble finding a time we could both meet and discuss my project. It’s been chaotic around here.
You: No problem. Hopefully this meeting won’t take too much of your time.
Dan: I would like to have been able to provide more time to discuss the equipment check-out project. Unfortunately I will have to rush off to a 9:00 meeting with my boss Bill Venkman and his boss, Fred Murray (Vice President of Physical Facilities).
You: An hour should be more than enough time. The intent of this meeting was for me to simply get an overall understanding of the equipment check-out project.
Dan: Sounds good. Where should we begin?
You: Let’s start with the minutes from your management retreat. Thanks for faxing a copy of that document to me after our phone call to set up this meeting. The minutes stated that your top priority is to improve the Equipment Depot and Warehouse operations.
Dan: That’s correct, except the number one priority is the Equipment Depot operation. We would like to focus on tackling that area first.
You: Good. I wasn’t too sure if you wanted this project to address both areas. Well then, why don’t you tell me a little about the Equipment Depot, just exactly what is an Equipment Depot?
Dan: First of all, we have close to 200 maintenance employees. These employees are assigned to certain buildings or plants. Some of the employees are carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and other skilled workers. Each new employee is initially provided with a toolbox and a minimal number of tools. Those tools are theirs to keep. At the end of the year, we give them a token amount of money and if they need to replace those tools they can. Otherwise they can keep the money.
You: That sounds like a sweet deal.
Dan: We’ve found that if you give them ownership, they are more careful and responsible with the equipment. Anyhow, as I said, they are provided with the basic everyday tools such as hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, and the like, depending on their skill. But many jobs they are asked to do require additional tools. That is where the Equipment Depot comes into the picture.
You: The Equipment Depot operates as a store where the employees go to buy additional equipment?
Dan: Not exactly. The employees don’t buy the equipment. They check it out from the Equipment Depot and return it when the job is done.
You: That sounds like a busy operation for the Equipment Depot staff.
Dan: Oh it is! Of course, not every employee needs to go to the depot every day and for every job to get special equipment. Currently, I have three employees working for me in the Equipment Depot. They are able to handle things pretty well, although the beginning and ending of the work day can bring some pretty long lines of employees.
You: Can you tell me the names of your staff? I will likely need to talk to them at some point in time.
Dan: Sure. Janine Peck, Oscar Barrett, and S.P. Marsh each cover one shift. Those three and myself are responsible for the Equipment Depot and its $1 million inventory.
You: A million! That is a lot of hammers and screwdrivers.
Dan: Remember these aren’t hammers and screwdrivers. Small tools are provided in the maintenance toolboxes. These are more expensive pieces of equipment. For example, air compressors, generators, reciprocating saws, etc. – special items that either are needed only on occasions or are too expensive to lose!
You: I see. Tell me about the problems. Are the employees losing too many pieces of equipment?
Dan: We estimate that more than $50,000 in equipment is lost, stolen, or damaged each year.
You: Wow! So that’s why this project is top priority. Do you have any idea what percent is lost, and what percent is stolen or damaged?
Dan: No, we don’t. I’ve seen a couple of pieces of our equipment show up at flea markets, and we’ve caught a couple employees taking equipment home with them, but no, we can’t say one way or the other for sure.
You: Tell me about your current system.
Dan: The current manual system has been in operation for over 20 years. The current system functioned well in the earlier years. However, as GB Manufacturing has grown in the number of buildings and maintenance employees, the system has become inefficient and incapable of handling the growth. I should point out that we no longer subcontract some of our work out to outside contractors.
You: I was about to ask about that.
Dan: Anyhow, along with that growth is the growth in the volume of check-ins and check-outs and volume of equipment inventory.
You: So what are you envisioning for the new system?
Dan: Obviously I would like a new system that can handle this growth. I am envisioning a system that will permit my Equipment Depot staff to be able to answer numerous inquiries related to the availability of equipment, the location of a specific piece of equipment, and an up-to-date account of what equipment employees should have in their possession.
You: I see. You want a system that not only monitors check-in and check-out, but you also want the system to literally track the equipment.
Dan: That’s right. Heck, if an employee wants to check out an air compressor and we don’t have one in stock, I would like my staff to be able to locate one or more of our compressors. Find out which employees have the compressors and when they expect to be done with them. If needed, we can check it out to another employee and instruct that person to go to the job site to pick up the equipment. The last thing I want my people to do is purchase new equipment when they don’t have to. That gets expensive.
You: Okay, thanks. I think I’ve got the picture. It is getting close to your next meeting and I think I have a pretty good understanding of this project. Are there any last things you would like to discuss about the project?
Dan: Yes there is one last thing. Maintenance has taken great pride in 0its emphasis on safety. I would like the new system to place a check-out restriction on certain equipment. This restriction would not allow employees who do not possess a certain skill class to check out the equipment. It’s for their safety. For example, I don’t want carpenters checking out tools that only electricians should use. Someone could get hurt.
You: Thank you for your time. I had better let you get ready for your meeting. By the way, is there a deadline that you targeted for this project, and is there a budget?
Dan: I would like to have the new system tomorrow! Seriously, I would like to have something in six months. As for a budget, no we haven’t established a budget. I was hoping that you could tell us what it would cost. I would then talk to my boss about getting funding.
You: Good enough. I will be getting back to you soon.
The following is a transcript of an interview between you and Dan Stantz’s staff. Your goal for this initial interview is to obtain facts about the problems and opportunities that have triggered the Equipment Check-Out project request, plus other general information that could help prepare the Problems, Opportunities, Objectives, and Constraints Matrix.
Scene: The Equipment Depot. You have scheduled to meet with the Equipment Depot staff just after the 3:00 PM shift change when Oscar Barrett finishes work and Janine Peck starts her shift. S.P. Marsh, the third shift employee has agreed to come in for the meeting. You are sitting on stools behind the counter.
You: Well it looks like everyone is here. I’m sorry to be delaying Oscar’s getting home for the day. I’m especially sorry S.P. had to make a special trip in.
S.P.: That’s OK. This is about when I wake up anyway. Oscar said he was going to buy me breakfast.
You: Well, thank you anyway. If anything, this underscores how important this proposed system is to you and to the company. I assume that Mr. Stantz has clued each of you in on the project that I am working on?
S.P.: Yes, Dan told us. (The others nod.) We certainly need the help.
You: I hope I can help you. I’ve been charged with developing a new system, probably computer-based, to help streamline equipment check-out. But clearly I can’t do anything until I understand how your current system operates. Mr. Stantz gave me an overview of the operations, but I need to learn more so that I truly understand what you are trying to do, the problems you face, and opportunities for making some improvements.
Oscar: I don’t know about the others, but I would be willing to stay here all night if that is what it takes to get things straightened out around here. I’m glad you showed up about a half hour early. Did you notice the long line of employees and how busy we get?
You: Yes, I did. I assume those employees were returning equipment they had checked out earlier in the day?
Oscar: Yes and no. Some were returning things they had checked out days, even months ago. And then some of them were checking out equipment they are going to need for tomorrow’s jobs.
Janine: And some were both checking in and checking out.
You: According to Mr. Stantz it sounds like you have the same rush of employees at the beginning of the shift.
Oscar: Yes. The first and last half hour of each shift we get overwhelmed with employees wanting to check in or check out equipment. That’s why we each generally get in early and clock out late – so we can help each other handle the load. It still is discouraging that it takes so long to process a check-in or check-out – anywhere from 2 to 5, maybe 10 minutes to process a check-out, and about 2 minutes to process a check-in. We get the feeling that the employees have come to really resent us and are unhappy with the service provided by the Equipment Depot.
S.P: But you should understand that we do a lot more than just check equipment in and out.
You: I’m sure you do. Perhaps first I should get a better understanding of your overall operations. Could you begin by identifying all the transactions that the Equipment Depot must handle? In other words, what events take place that trigger the need for you people to complete some type of task? I think we have identified the first two – equipment check-in, and a check-out.
S.P.: For one thing, I periodically receive an employee hiring notice from a supervisor.
(S.P. walks over to one of several black notebooks labeled Maintenance Employee Records and opens it up. It contains a simple one-page form labeled GB Manufacturing Maintenance Employee Registration.)
The notice looks like this. It has some general information about the employees such as their ID, name, skill classifications, building they are assigned to, supervisor, and other details. We must have one of these records before an employee is authorized to check out equipment. I would estimate there are more than 200 employee registrations that we maintain. The supervisor usually brings this notice to us and introduces the new employee. This is a simple task. I merely alphabetically insert the form into the notebook.
You: Could I get a photocopy of several of those. You can mark out the names if you want.
S.P.: Let me clear it with Dan first. But I don’t see why not.
Oscar: The supervisor may also send us a skill classification update notice, which requires me to update an employee’s registration form.
S.P.: And of course, the supervisor will provide us with employee termination notices. In fact, I received one this morning. These are difficult to process. If I’m lucky, I can process one in about 10 minutes. We have to go through and examine the check-in and out records for that employee to decide what equipment the employee has in his or her possession and communicate that to the supervisor. Employees who are quitting usually check in their equipment on their last day. But if they are fired, we rely upon the supervisor to get the equipment and check it in to us. They tend to not be very prompt and reliable in doing that.
Janine: Now S.P., let’s not do any finger pointing.
S.P.: Sorry, but it is true.
You: What else do you folks process?
Janine: When employees aren’t here turning in equipment, I am frequently busy with ordering new equipment.
You: What triggers or initiates the need to order new equipment?
Janine: Usually it is the supervisors. They may have a job that requires a special piece of equipment. If they or the employee tries to check out the needed equipment and we don’t carry it, the supervisor submits a new equipment request. Sometimes we initiate a request when an employee reports losing a tool.
You: Then that starts a Purchase Order cycle with the Accounts Payable department getting involved?
Janine: No, thank goodness. That’s the way we used to do it, and it took forever to scan through vendor catalogs and find the cheapest price. But about six months ago we signed a contract with equipmentdeals.com to be our exclusive supplier. The three of us are authorized to buy anything they have as long as we don’t go over budget.
You: So equipmentdeals.com is the cheapest?
S.P.: They may not be the lowest cost on every single item, but with the contract that was negotiated we have significant yearly savings. Plus we save a lot of labor for Accounts Payable and us.
You: So this new system doesn’t have to do anything with purchasing?
Janine: I wouldn’t say that. Once we place an order it will take a couple days to a couple weeks to come in. The supervisor or employee may call us several times to check the order status. When the order comes in, then need to notify the employee who wanted it so they can check it out. Right now we keep a log, but it doesn’t work very well.
You: Okay. I’ll see what I can do about that.
S.P.: Related to that, when we purchase equipment to replace something an employee lost, we record the cost on the original check-out sheet so we have a record of it.
Oscar: Then when an employee finds lost equipment, we try to take care of it. Let me emphasize the word “try.”
Janine: Right. Sometimes we can locate the owner of the equipment, update their checkout records, and notify them that the equipment has been found. More often than not the equipment that is returned cannot be identified. Going through our check-in and check-out forms to match them with the employee is too tedious.
You: Can’t you match them by serial number?
Oscar: I can on the big pieces that we track by serial number – things like air compressors and compound miter saws. But we have a lot of small things, such as specialize router bits, that don’t have a serial number and are too small to attach one to. We call those untracked equipment, because we don’t track them individually. That also applies to inexpensive pieces, such as drills, that just aren’t worth tracking individually.
You: So how do you match up a found drill with a lost drill?
Oscar: Sometimes I can make an educated guess though. I can locate any submitted reports of lost equipment and see if it appeared on the report. But I frequently find that there are multiple employees that reported a similar piece of equipment missing, such as a drill or router.
You: What else do you do?
S.P.: We also follow up on damaged equipment returns. Some can be repaired. I have to see to it that the equipment is sent out for repair and then make sure we get it back. We record the repair cost on the original check-out sheet so we have a record of the employee who caused the damage.
You: So you track repair costs and lost equipment costs by employee?
S.P.: I wish. The supervisors always want to identify the employees who seem to have the most damage and most lost equipment. There’s no way we could go through all those records that manually. Maybe you can build that into your system.
You: I’ll see what I can do. At some point I will need to learn the details about how each of you processes those transactions. For now let’s move on to some other items. I would now like to gain a little better understanding of the records or files you maintain. Can you tell me a little about them? I saw the employee notebooks. Are there others you can tell me about?
Janine: I can’t think of anything that wasn’t already mentioned.
Oscar: Me neither.
You: Okay then. That list of employees with damages or lost equipment leads us into the topic of reports. Do you generate any reports?
Oscar: Very few—and that’s the problem. I would like to generate all kinds of reports to help us do our job, but it is almost impossible to do so. For example, I would like to have a year-end inventory report.
Janine: Yeah, and a report of all checked-out equipment, by employee.
S.P.: I tell you what we could use, it would be nice to be able provide the employees with a periodic statement detailing what equipment they have checked out and are expected to have in their possession.
Oscar: All that is great, but if we really want to cut into our dollar losses on lost, stolen or damaged equipment, we need that report listing employees having a history of excessive equipment losses or damage.
Janine: The bottom line is that we seem to collect volumes of records, but we don’t have any ability to quickly obtain reports or information that we need to do our job.
You: I get the picture. I will certainly see what I can do about that. This was some really helpful information. I look forward to meeting with each of you over the next few weeks to learn even more details about your current checkout operations. But I see we are out of time. So thanks again for permitting me to meet with you.
The following is a copy of the transcript of an interview you conducted with Oscar Barrett, Janine Peck, and S.P. Marsh of the Equipment Depot. The goal of this interview was to determine requirements for the proposed system.
Scene: The Equipment Depot. You have scheduled to meet with the Equipment Depot staff just after the 3:00 PM shift change when Oscar Barrett finishes work and Janine Peck starts her shift. S.P. Marsh, the third shift employee has agreed to come in for the meeting.
You: Well, here we all are again. I promise you I won’t be meeting with you to death.
Oscar: That’s OK. We want to help make sure the system does what we need.
You: Good. That is really my goal for this meeting. I want to get consensus on everything the Equipment Check-Out System needs to do and who will be using each part of it. I already know the basic functions for the system. Employees need to check-out equipment and check it back in. But I was wondering if you envisioned you doing the data entry or employees?
Oscar: We were talking about that. We are thinking of having two terminals here and letting employees do their own check-outs with the system verifying the skill classification and the equipment availability. It will generate a receipt they’ll bring to us so we can actually fetch the tool. But we’ll have to check-in to verify that they are actually bringing the tool back. That would speed us up.
You: Sound good. Now what if the employee loses the equipment he or she checks out?
Janine: That’s a real pain. Sometimes employees report that they lost something. But more often than not they don’t report it, hoping they’ll find it in a few days.
You: So if they do report it, do you do anything?
S.P.: Not initially. If someone needs that equipment and it is still lost, we may have to purchase a new one. In that case we try to mark the original check-out slip with a note of the lost and the cost of the replacement.
Janine: We do the same thing if employees checks in equipment they have damaged. We send it out for repair and mark the original check-out slip – if we can find it. But you’re going to solve all our finding problems, right?
You: I’ll do my best. What about when lost equipment is later found?
Oscar: Conceptually, it’s the same as a check-in, assuming we can match it with a check-out. Actually, a little more goes on. If a replacement has been ordered because of the loss, we erase it.
S.P.: I say we shouldn’t erase it. The replacement is an expense the company wouldn’t have had if the employee hadn’t lost the equipment in the first place.
Oscar: Dan Stantz is in the process of making a ruling on that. With this new system we’ll actually be able to monitor employee losses for the first time, so now we’re thinking through the issues.
You: I think I see a loophole. If an employee loses or steals equipment and never reports it and no one notices a need to order a replacement, then you don’t have any way to identify that as a loss.
Janine: You’re right. We were just discussing that the other day. The solution we came up with was that we should generate a report of equipment checked-out for more than 30 days. Then we’ll contact the supervisors and have them check it out.
You: That brings up another question I had. I think you also wanted a procedure to locate who had a specific piece of equipment?
Oscar: That would save us loads of time.
You: OK. Now I need to ask about the skill classifications. What are all the events related to that?
Oscar: OK. The Safety Committee meets periodically sends us what’s called a Restriction Notice. It just specifies the allowable skill classifications for each piece of equipment. When a new employee is hired, the supervisor makes a skill classification determination and communicates that to us as well.
S.P.: And sometimes employees get their skill classifications upgraded. Supervisors then send us notice of that as well.
You: And what you do in setting the skill classification for a new employee is essentially the same as changing the skill classification for an existing employee?
Janine: That’s right. And don’t forget that we have to take employees out of the system when they quit or are fired.
You: Got it. Now what about purchases? You said last time that both you and supervisor submit purchase requests and that you order equipment. Are those two separate events?
S.P.: Well, yeah.
You: Let me ask it this way: Do you track separate information on a request versus an order or do different things?
S.P.: I see what you are asking. Yes, we need a reason for the request – whether it is a replacement or a brand new kind of equipment for a specific job or whatever. Then the order is a separate step.
You: Then after the order is placed?
Janine: As we said last time, right now we field calls from supervisors asking the status of the order. We would like the system to integrate with equipmentdeals.com so we can check the status.
You: I was wondering about that. You couldn’t just check the status through their web site?
S.P.: It gets really slow. I don’t know if it is our connection speed or something on their web site. But if we could somehow download that status data, it would be great.
You: I’ll see what I can do. But their web site wouldn’t know when an order actually comes in our door. So you’ll need some way to enter that manually.
Oscar: I suppose it does. I think you are starting to understand this system.
You: Well, I hope some. Have we discussed everything the system needs to do?
Janine: We mentioned some other reports in our last meeting.
You: Right. I already have that information, so I won’t have to ask you about it again. If you can’t think of anything else, then I think that is it for now. Thanks again for your help.
Oscar: Hey, thank you.
S.P.: Yeah, thanks.
Janine: As you can see, we’re excited about this. Design fast.
The following is a copy of the transcripts of an interview between you and Oscar Barrett. The goal of this interview was to obtain sample forms used for processing check-ins and check-outs and to be able to ask questions about them in order to discover data entities of the business system
Scene: You have arranged to drop by the Equipment Depot to pick up samples of forms used to process check-ins and check-outs. Oscar Barrett was willing answer any questions that you might have.
Oscar: Hi. I assume you are here to pick up the forms.
You: Yes. Is this a good time?
Oscar: Sure. Here are the forms. Any questions?
You: Let’s see . . . I see check-outs on this form (see Appendix 6) but no return. Does that mean that equipment is still out?
Oscar: No. Each time an employee comes to the Equipment Depot counter to conduct business with us, we pull one of these forms out and record all the check-in and/or check-out activity they wish to perform during that visit. It is not intended to be reused when they come back. I’m not sure why we couldn’t use it that way, we just don’t.
You: I see. So the “date” refers to that day’s record of check-in and check-outs for the employee?
Oscar: Well, it is simply the date they are checking in or out the equipment. I know it is a little confusing. Let me give you an example. We would use one of these forms to record all the check-ins and check-outs an employee did in the morning. If that employee returned in the afternoon to return equipment, we would use a new form.
You: Just curious. Why wouldn’t you just pull the form when they come back in and update it?
Oscar: Time! It takes time to look up the form. We do file these, but sometimes they don’t get filed right away. We want to get the employees taken care of as quickly as possible. So it is easier to simply fill out a new one for each visit.
You: But if the new system made it easier to find those records and update them?
Oscar: Yeah, that might make the whole system work better.
You: OK. What is this “employee ID”? Does the Maintenance Department assign that?
Oscar: That is the GB Manufacturing employee ID. All maintenance employees wear an employee ID badge that has their ID and photo. We started that two years ago. It makes things go more quickly. We don’t have to wait for them to pull out their wallets and look up their ID. We can just read it.
You: Do you have to record both the “equip ID” and the “description”?
Oscar: If it is tracked equipment we record the serial number. Those are the equipment we want to specifically track and know who has it.
You: I remember. You have tracked and untracked equipment. Some pieces are too small for an equipment ID and some are too inexpensive to be worth tracking.
Oscar: Exactly. Let’s say we have a particular air compressor and its serial number, 123456789, is stamped on the side. That is an expensive item. We want to track it. We want to know that John Doe has checked out that particular air compressor. We want to know where that particular air compressor is at all times.
You: OK. And you call that tracked equipment?
Oscar: Right. That nailer on the second line is tracked.
You: So what is the “equip id” on the router and bits?
Oscar: We still give everything a numeric ID. It helps us identify them when we are sorting through all these forms. But if we have 10 router and bits sets, they all have the same ID. 1425 means a router and bit set.
You: But if that number isn’t stamped on the equipment as a serial number is, how do you know its number for the form?
Oscar: Oh, we just know most of them. You’d be surprised what sticks in your head over time. But those numbers are also printed on each bin.
Oscar: Storage bin. All the untracked equipment is organized and stored in numbered storage bins. Bin A48, I think, holds all the router and bit sets, and right on the front of the bin is a card that says Equip ID 1425.
You: Is the tracked equipment also stored in bins?
Oscar: No. Most of them are too large to fit in bins. They are stored in a particular aisle.
You: And you keep all this storage information in your head?
Oscar: We know where all the most popular equipment is stored. But for uncommon requests we refer to this storage list. (see Exhibit 4.3) It shows the aisle or bin location of each kind of equipment. This is just part of it. You can have that.
You: Does some information system generate this list?
Oscar: Just a word processor.
You: What is this “type” column?
Oscar: We categorize the equipment –carpentry, welding, plumbing, machine tools, etc. We have so machine pieces of equipment that those type codes really help us when we’re searching for a particular piece.
You: OK. One more time, let me make sure I understand tracked versus untracked. On this check-out form you know that this employee checked out a router and bit set. But you don’t know which router and bit set.
Oscar: Right. We know which nailer but not which router. Here’s another example and this might clear things up for you. Let’s say that an employee wants checks out a wrench. A wrench is relatively inexpensive. Also, it is virtually impossible to track. A particular wrench does not have a serial number on it! But since it is relatively inexpensive and virtually impossible to track, we don’t even attempt to do so. We simply want to keep track of the fact that the employee checked out a wrench. We don’t care which wrench. We only care that we get the wrench back.
You: OK. Two kinds of equipment and slightly different information kept for each. But everything has an Equip ID.
Oscar: Right. For tracked equipment we only have one piece with that Equip ID. With untracked we could have several.
You: Do you need the system to track the quantity you have of each kind of equipment?
Oscar: Good question. We haven’t until now. If someone calls us up see if we have something in stock we just put him or her on hold and go look. But it would be nice if the computer had a total and could subtract the outstanding loans. Sometimes I’ve suspected people of sneaking in here and raiding our inventory. And maybe your system could even allow people in another plant to check our inventory online before they trudge over here.
You: We’re still working out the system requirements. I’ll write that down. Let’s finish the check-out form. I assume “qty in” and “qty out” for large equipment is always one?
Oscar: That’s correct . . . in fact sometimes we don’t even enter a quantity, since it can’t possibly be more than one.
You: Is “damage” recorded for check-ins or for check-outs or for both?
Oscar: Just for check-ins. If something is damaged enough to not work properly we fix it before it goes out again. Minor damage we just ignore. We don’t care what it looks like as long as it works.
You: OK. Now this employee registration (see Exhibit 4.4) looks pretty understandable. I see you track supervisor.
Oscar: Right. If someone isn’t returning something we go to the supervisor.
You: Are supervisors also employees?
Oscar: Yes. All the maintenance supervisors have to work with their hands, too. So they often check-out equipment. They each have supervisors, but that is one of the maintenance managers.
You: And the supervisor of the maintenance managers is Mr. Venkman.
You: And the classification?
Oscar: That is the employee’s skill classification. Right now we just eyeball that and make sure the equipment being checked out is appropriate for that skill classification.
You: But Mr. Stantz said he wants the new system to track a skill class for each type of equipment and restrict check-outs to employees having that class.
Oscar: Sounds good. But remember that many pieces of equipment could be safely used by employees with any of several skill classifications.
You: That would be a really important point. OK, one last thing. We don’t have a form for the purchases, do we?
Oscar: No. Thankfully, that is all paperless. The only problem with is that the Item IDs used by equipmentdeals.com are not the same as our Equip IDs. That makes tracking orders a pain.
You: I have some good news on that. Equipmentdeals.com has a way to build us a custom web store with our equipment IDs. Plus they can put our order status info into XML that we can use to update our own internal database.
Oscar: I didn’t understand all that. But if you’re saying this solves my order tracking problem, I’m all for it.
You: I think it will solve your problem. You’ll be able to view outstanding orders right within our system.
You: Well, believe it or not, that’s all my questions for now. Thanks for your time.
Oscar: Anytime. I’m excited about this new system.