Assume you are working as IT officer for a reputed college. You have been assigned to prepare detailed project plan including acquisition, implementation and maintenance of an automated student management system. Answer the following questions in this context.
a) Present a strong case to college management to move from current traditional system to the new system highlighting major aspects of cost-benefit analysis.
b) What are the major external systems that your new system needs to interact to enable electronic payment for the students‘ dues to the college?
c) Present your detailed plan to ensure high availability and disaster recovery of the new system.
A reputed college needs to manage a lot of students and their transactions with the college. A manual or traditional paper-based system poses a lot of challenges in efficient handling of the student activities, academic transactions, admissions etc. As the number of students rises, the challenge level also increases accordingly. The following are the major points that make the transition to computer-based system necessary:
College education depends upon the attraction of students towards the college facilities and services. That include the efficient processing of the student data, student services and transactions. To make those transactions and student management efficient, computer based system is mandatory.
Computer based system is also good for college management as the system can generate real- time reports, performance statistics, information about the student activities, financial transactions etc.
The transactions become more transparent and easier to control with computer based system.
Since the computer based system is more efficient, the same task can be managed much less number of dedicated staff.
Because of the increase in efficiency, transparency and cost saving in terms of reduced manpower and operational cost, the benefits of the computer-based student management system far outweigh the cost.
To enable electronic payment for the students‘ dues to college, the student management
system shall have to interact with the following external systems:
The public website of the college to push notices, fees, payment modes etc. This is not directly related to financial management but is related to the flow of information related to the financial transactions.
The online payment system of a bank or similar financial service provider that can carry out financial transactions (such as taking in payment from students) for the college.
The clearing house (if there is such in the market) to clear payment cheques issued colleges for students services such as scholarships and other payments. This is also needed to make payment for different student activities, events and programs organized the college.
Communication medium such as SMS, email systems to send notifications to students or guardians about the transactions, dues etc.
My detailed plan for ensuring high availability and disaster recovery of the system include the following activities and arrangements:
Use of two servers for the purpose, one in active operation and one with identical configuration acting as standby.
An external system component (load balancer or switch) to automatically transfer regular load to standmachine if the active machine is in problem.
Regular backup of data and configurations in online (hard disks or storage devices) and offline (tape drives or CDs) mode to recover data in case of data corruption or problem in both servers.
Network redundancy for public access. Internet connectivity shall be taken from at least two different service providers.
One replica of the student management system shall also be maintained in the local or international cloud based data centers. Such backup shall keep regular operational data and application without long time archiving to conserve space and same operational cost.
Dedicated system administration staff for 24 hours. For this, 3 shifts of work shall be arranged with additional shifts for morning and night time in addition to the regular working hours.
A detailed and step-by-step data and service recovery plan shall be prepared and approved college administration. This plan shall be tested with regular drill activities so that when actual disaster happens, the team has proper understanding and experience of the activities to be done and processes to be followed.