Management information systems revision question and answer

CPA-Quantitative-Analysis-Section-4 BLOCK RELEASE

(a) Computer hardware and software are usually supplied separately. However, the process of evaluation a id acquisition should be related to each other as the functioning of each depends on the other.
Required:
(i) Why is the evaluation of computer hardware and software vendors absolutely necessary?

(ii) When acquiring an in-house computer system, which criteria are considered in deciding between the various vendors, manufacturers or suppliers who
have submitted tenders?:
(b) Discuss three different ways in which managers can take advantage of downsizing
in computer technology.
(c) Most organisations are now using fourth generation languages (4GLs) for application development.
Explain three benefits of using 4GLs.
(d) State any two features of a Visual Display Unit.
ANSWER
a) (i) Hardware and software must be compatible for the computer system to function. Thus, it‘s important to evaluate the software vendors to see whether their products are compatible with those offered hardware vendors.
(ii) Criteria used in deciding between the various vendors:
1. Benchmark tests- test how long it takes for a machine to run through a particular set of programs. It‘s carried out to compare performance of software/hardware against present criteria such as performance speed, response times and user friendliness of equipment.
2. Simulation tests- they use a synthetic program written specifically for testing purposes.They are programs incorporated with routines designed to test a variety of situations.
3. Supplier‟s reliability- both financial stability and track record
4. Cost- equipment cost, installation cost and training costs.
5. Utility software supported and preloaded in hardware.
6. The warrant period, units and maintenance commitments.
7. Software support upgrades and maintenance.
8. Training requirements which includes timings, number of personnel, etc

b) Downsizing– process of transferring applications form large computers to smaller ones. Ways in which managers can take advantage of downsizing in computer technology:
1. Reduction in computing costs
Downsizing promotes the use of PCs which are cheap in terms of memory and processing power as compared to mainframes.
2. Reduction in labour costs
The PC environment promoted the downsizing concept is end-user friendly and doesn‘t require experienced computer operators as compared to the mainframe environment. This implies a reduction in the need for technical staff members.

3. Improved system and organizational efficiency
Downsizing promotes the concept of distributed processing which improves the efficiency of small local operations since the work is shared out amongst various processing terminals. The end result is overall organizational efficiency.

c) Benefits of using 4GLs:
Fourth-generation language:
This is a programming language that can be employed directly end-users or less skilled programmers to develop computer applications more rapidly than conventional programming languages. Fourth generation language features/tools include: PC software tools, query languages, report generators, graphics languages, application generators, application software packages and very high programming languages. The benefits of using fourth generation languages include:
1. Easy To Use
Because of their non-procedural nature most of 4GL features are easy to use for the end user
e.g. with query languages, the user only has to specify the data that needs to be accessed. He doesn‘t have to specify how it is to be accessed.
2. Short Application Development Time
Because of their relative ease of use as compared to conventional programming languages, 4GLs reduce application development time.
3. 4GLS Suit Any Category Of User
End users can utilize PC software tools, query languages and report generators which form the simple 4GL features while IS professionals could benefit from graphics languages, application generators and very high-level programming languages which are more technical and are suited for developing entire applications.
4. Availability of Support/Advice
4GLs are very common in modern day programming and hence it‘s easy to find people who have experience in using 4GL features. Such experienced users may be sought after for advice.
5. Customized Software
4GL enable end users to develop their own systems and thus they are able to implement all their requirements since it is only they who understand their requirements better. Thus 4GLs result in fully custom-built software which thus improves productivity.

d) Features of a Visual display unit:
1. The VDU is really 2 devices: A keyboard and a screen display. The keyboard is used for data input while the screen display is used for output of data.
2. Data is fed in via a keyboard which is like a typewriter keyboard, and is both passed into the computer and displayed on the screen. The VDU can also receive and display messages from the computer.
3. VDUs are normally used connecting them directly to the computer. This mode is known as on-line data entry.
4. Used in the past in conjunction with some other special purposed data entry system in order to prepare data on a fast and reliable input medium. The most popular was the key- to-floppy-disk or key-to-diskette system. These were basically micro-computer-based systems that took in data from the VDU and stored it on floppy disks.

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