Appendices Appendix D ICT specialisation Unit VS1 - Business information systems
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This unit assumes basic competence in the use of computer systems and programming skills as developed in the Vocational Preparation Module.

Overall Objective of the Unit

Students should be able methodically to plan, design, realise and implement relatively simple information systems with the aid of problem oriented tools.



Students should be able to use formal methods of data flow analysis to identify requirements for an existing information system.


Students should be able to relate programming to the real world, and especially the world in which they are likely to find employment. The relevance of the material will enhance the value of the course and make it more interesting for both student and teacher.


Students will analyse a simple case study of, for example, a warehouse or an accounting office which is described in such a way as to provide the necessary information. The case study will be so constructed that no advanced use of techniques is required. The techniques used will be based on diagrams.

Students will work in groups using different methods to collect data such as interviews and questionnaires. The forms and other documents used in the case-study organisation will be analysed as sources of accurate information.

The following student activities are part of Information Planning phase of the unit:

  1. sketch the data flow within a given organisation;
  2. quantify the volume of data flowing in the organisation;
  3. assess the speed of data flow within the organisation;
  4. specify a relational data model;
  5. identify functions to be provided to employees by the information system.



Students will be able to develop a design of a simple database and a limited number of associated functions for data entry, data retrieval, data updating and data presentation.


The case study should only require a few functions to be specified and the required human-computer interface will be of a simple, standard form. The teacher could play the collective role of the users.


In designing a database students will need to be accurate by specifying the overall structure and the specific details for the variables in relation to the data to be used. It will be necessary to review specifications with users to ensure that the specifications are comprehensive and appropriate.

The following student activities are part of the Design Phase of this unit:

  1. specify the structure of the database;
  2. specify sample data to be included in the database;
  3. specify the necessary functions and the human-computer interface;
  4. design a small program in terms of the database, the functions and the interface.



Students should be able to realise and test the designed program on a computer.


Students will typically use a programmable database system from an Office Suite or a structured, general purpose programming language with a comprehensive library of pre-programmed database functions.


Before trial-running the program with test data, students will need to establish criteria to be used in the evaluation, testing of specifications and coding. Proper documentation will be necessary to enable students to trace the sources of errors.

The following student activities are part of the Realisation Phase of this unit:

  1. transform the designed program into a real program;
  2. specify testing criteria for the program;
  3. trial-run the program with test data;
  4. test and verify the coding;
  5. identify problems areas and provide solutions.



Students should develop a feeling for the problems associated with the implementation of an information system into an organisation.


The different employee functions in the case-study organisation could be played by students. The teacher could supervise the role playing and help in identifying the problems.


Students will have their design, and specifications of their program validated with respect to the real life situation. They will categorise the nature of the problems into classes: data model, specification, functions and interface. The teacher will bring their attention to the importance of documentation.

The following student activities are part of the Realisation Phase of this unit:

  1. implement the information system into the role played organisation;
  2. identify problems with the use of the system;
  3. suggest practical solutions to these problems.



Students should be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the running of their program within the organisation.


Students will run the system simulating the organisation involved. The technical skills of the students will be put to test by this life-like environment, thus providing students with an opportunity to evaluate their ability to identify the capabilities and limitations of their system.


Using data specifications, students will evaluate the capabilities and limitations of their system. Software and hardware interface errors will have to be corrected, enhancing the design.

The following student activities are part of the Use in Organisation Phase of this unit:

  1. monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the system;
  2. evaluate the capabilities and limitations of the system to handle the activities in the organisation.


Documentation from previously developed systems should be made available to students.

Although it is likely to be aimed at tertiary students, a relevant book on Systems Development would be helpful as background material.

A programmable database system like dBase or a structured, general purpose programming language with a comprehensive library of pre-programmed database functions should also be available to students.


Working with a Database (Unit A5); Database Design (Unit E2)