The recent desire for closer user participation in new systems development and distribution systems in operations have created more impetus for end user computing technologies.
a) Define the term “end user computing’.
b) Identity six risks associated with end user computing.
c) Explain the role of the following in promoting end user computing
(i) Information resource centres.
(ii) Object oriented programming
a) End user computing
This refers to the development of information systems end users with little or no formal assistance from technical specialists. End users utilize fourth-generation languages, graphics languages and PC software tools to develop information systems.
b) Risks associated with end user computing:
1) Risks in problem analysis.
Users may proceed to solving problems without adequate problem specifications.
2) Development risks.
Persons who do not have systems development training and experience are more susceptible to modelling errors. They may fail to apply documentation standards and test their system adequately.
End users may spend time and effort developing applications that have already been developed commercial software firms.
4) Unprofitable expenditure of time and effort.
It‘s questionable whether people with professional skills other than systems development should spend time developing applications rather than concentrate on their areas of expertise.
5) Waste of computing resources
Without proper budgetary restraints, the use of end user computing resources may be uneconomical.
6) Threats on privacy and security
Physical access, custodianship controls, backup and recovery issues are seldom addressed end users.
7) Lack of computing efficiency and effectiveness
Few end users establish procedures for evaluation of their systems or subject them to audits.
8) Incompatibility of end users tools and devices with the rest of the organization‘ssystems. Standards are required to overcome this.
c) (i) Information resource centers
These are special facilities housing hardware, software and technical specialists to supply end users with tools, training and expert advice so they can create information system applications on their own to increase their productivity. Specific services include:
o Problem resolution especially where the information center has a help desk.
o Training of end users on the use of hardware and software.
o Consultation especially hardware and software consultation.
o Technical support relating to hardware and software installation.
o Product support where they have software within their department, which people (end users) can access.
o Hardware access e.g. Printers. Information centers make them shared at a central physical location and also over the computer network.
o Staffing: They can provide staff to user departments so that work can be carried out.
o Computer resource planning and justification.
o New service evaluation – The center‘s staff assess new user needs and provide for them through products/services.
(ii) Object oriented programming
This refers to an approach to software development that combines data and procedures into a single object. The object combines data and program code. Instead of passing data to procedures, programs send a message for an object to perform a procedure that is already embedded in it. A message may be sent to many objects, but each will implement that message differently. Object oriented programming produces reusable program code or software chips that can be used in other related systems.
The reusability facility provided OOP promotes end user computing. End users could conveniently use objects stored in reusable software libraries explicitly designed for reuse instead of going through the long process of coding which most end users are not capable of. Reusability comes in handy when end users are dealing with visual objects (command buttons, menu boxes, list boxes, etc). OOP enables end users to easily create programs with graphical features.