Unformatted text preview: Database Systems
for Mangement This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License Database Systems
James F. Courtney
David B. Paradice
Kristen L. Brewer
Julia C. Graham
Copyright © 2010 James F. Courtney and David B. Paradice For any questions about this text, please email: [email protected] The Global Text Project is funded by the Jacobs Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License DATABASE SYSTEMS FOR MANAGEMENT, THIRD EDITION
James F. Courtney, David B. Paradice
Kristen L. Brewer, and Julia C. Graham
Data as an Organizational Asset
Managing Organizational Data
Data versus Information
Elements of Database Systems
Computer Hardware and Software
Database Planning and Design Techniques
Database Systems and Other Organizational Information Systems
Effective Systems and Efficient Systems
. Case Example: Data Management at the Conventional National Bank
. Case Example: Byer Kaufman's Portfolio Management System
Objectives of Database Systems
Data Independence and the ANSI/SPARC Model
Reduced Data Redundancy
Disadvantages of the Database Approach 1-1 CHAPTER 1
Introduction to Database Systems
Organizations capture and process data for a variety of reasons. Accounting data are used to
measure the financial health and vitality of the enterprise: It is useful to internal corporate management in
keeping track of how the firm is performing; it is useful to people outside the firm, such as investors
interested in the firm's stock and bankers to whom the firm has applied for a loan. Records on a host of
other organizational entities, including employees, inventories, customers, and suppliers, are required as
One of the main uses of data relates to making decisions. A manager must decide, for example, on
the price of the firm's product or on how many units of the product to produce. An investor must decide
whether to invest in a firm; a banker must decide whether to make a loan. The Federal Reserve Board must
decide whether to increase or decrease interest rates, or hold them stable. In all of these cases, it is
desirable to have reliable information on which to base the decision. Information, and the data on which it is
based, are valuable organizational assets that warrant careful management.
DATA AS AN ORGANIZATIONAL ASSET
Major functional areas in organizations have evolved from recognition that the function being
managed is of vital importance. Financial and accounting departments, for example, manage predominantly
monetary assets of an organization. Few would argue that these assets are unimportant to the organization.
Marketing departments handle the advertising for new and existing products, carry out research studies, and
distribute products. These activities are obviously important. Production, personnel, and other departments
also specialize in efficient and effective management of the assets in these areas. Similarly, organizational
data and information must be regarded as an asset of vital importance to the organization. A few examples
should make clear how important data and information can be.
Consider a company that produces a newsmagazine with national distribution. It can collect data
about its subscribers that can be used in many ways to gain an advantage in the marketplace; it can, for
example, use data about personal interests to help select the stories to be printed or to entice organizations
to purchase advertising space.
Or imagine an organization that, thanks to a secret formula, manufactures the most popular product
in a highly competitive market. In fact, the company maintains the results of hundreds of consumer tests of
variations of the formula in a database. These can be analyzed whenever consumer preferences appear to
be changing, giving the company the appearance of an uncanny ability to anticipate consumer preferences.
Were this data to fall into the hands of competitors, all advantage in the marketplace would be lost.
Or consider such routine information as salary or production schedule data. Salary data in the
hands of a competing organization could result in the loss of top employees through offers of higher
compensation. Production data could allow a competitor to anticipate an organization's strategy in the near
future. Each of these actions could have devastating results on an organization.
These examples are intended to emphasize the point that data are indeed a valuable asset to an
organization. You can doubtlessly think of other examples. As with any valuable asset, the organization
should have persons and procedures to effectively manage the asset. The management of organizational
data is the main topic of concern in this book.
MANAGING ORGANIZATIONAL DATA
Organizations of all sizes now use computers to perform the data processing functions required to
provide information for management decision-making. Experience with business applications of data
processing has shown that the data itself is a valuable organizational resource that must be carefully 1-2 managed. The task of managing organizational data and data processing functions is often called data
management or information management.
The data resources of an organization are usually stored in databases, which are highly integrated
sets of files shared by users throughout the organization. Because it is impractical to store all the data for
even relatively small organizations in one database, organizations design database systems, which are
integrated collections of databases along with users who share the databases, personnel who design and
manage databases, techniques for designing and managing databases, and computer systems to support
them. These are rather simple definitions of databases and database systems, but they will suffice for now.
These definitions are expanded throughout the book.
This book provides an introduction to management information systems with an emphasis on
special technologies and techniques for designing and managing organizational database systems. After
studying the material in this book, you should have mastered at least the basic principles underlying
information systems, the technology used to manage databases and the techniques used to design and
implement effective database systems.
When reading this chapter, think about what is meant by data as an organizational resource and
about how managers use data. Keep in mind the idea that the main goal of database systems is to
provide managers with information so that they can make effective decisions about how to run the
organization. The basic theme of this book is that reliable information and accurate data are required for
effective managerial decisions. The object of the book is to demonstrate how to design and manage
effective database systems.
The users of database systems are the customers of the information systems department. If these
customers do not use the product (the database system), then the system has not been designed
effectively. To emphasize the viewpoint of database system users, each chapter includes a section entitled
"The User's View" in which we discuss the concerns of users as related to that chapter's topics.
DATA VERSUS INFORMATION
Information and data are not the same thing. Information is sometimes defined as processed data,
but simply because data has been processed does not mean that it is useful to an organization. The
average price of corn in Iowa may be meaningful to thousands of farmers but useless to an automobile
manufacturer. For the purposes of this book, data is defined simply as numbers, words, names, and other
symbols that can be stored in a computer system. Information is simply useful data. If a single data value
(such as the price of a competitor's product) is useful, then it is information. Several data values may be
manipulated or processed to create information (such as in computing the average price of several
competing products). If the resulting data value is not useful, then it is not information, no matter how much
it has been processed.
ELEMENTS OF DATABASE SYSTEMS
The principal elements in a database environment are people, computer hardware, computer
software, databases, and techniques for planning, designing, implementing, and managing databases. Each
of these elements is examined in more detail in the next chapter. A brief overview is given here.
The people involved with database systems can be divided into two groups: those who use
information provided by the system and those who design, develop, and manage the system itself. If a
database system is to be of value to the organization, it is imperative that it be designed to support the
needs of information users. This point is emphasized repeatedly throughout the book; it cannot be
overemphasized. The design of user-oriented database systems is considered in detail in the chapters on 1-3 system design, implementation, and administration.
Those people responsible for the design, development, and administration of database systems are
often referred to as database administrators. The position of database administrator is highly challenging
and should be a high-level managerial position. Database administrators must possess well-developed skills
in both technical and managerial aspects of information management, because they are the primary liaisons
between the community of users and the systems development staff.
The personnel responsible for developing database systems are information analysts or database
analysts. Information analysts work closely with users of information to carefully define information
requirements and to structure these requirements into a logical form. Database analysts use database
technology to design systems satisfying those requirements. This book is aimed primarily at those who seek
to develop successful database systems and who may ultimately become database administrators, but it is
of interest to users of database systems as well. Thus the book is concerned with both technical and
managerial aspects of information management. Database administration is discussed in detail in Chapters
10 and 11.
Computer Hardware and Software
Computer hardware and software are two different elements of a database environment, but they
are discussed together in this chapter. Hardware and software form the technological foundation for
database systems. This book contains a limited discussion of the hardware for database management;
hardware is an extensive and complex topic requiring special treatment far beyond the scope of the book.
Software for information management can be separated into two groups: applications software and
database management systems. Database management systems (DBMS) are commercial software
packages designed to provide the basis for building database systems. Many such packages are on the
market today, and thousands of organizations use them. These packages are part of the technology of
information management and usually depend heavily on the operating system for many of their basic
Organizations acquire database management systems and develop or acquire applications
software to satisfy their particular database processing requirements. You are undoubtedly familiar with the
way ordinary programming languages such as Visual Basic (VB) describe data files. As is illustrated shortly,
this approach may not provide ready access to information. The database approach is intended to
overcome these problems.
As shown in Figures 1-1 and 1-2, database management systems are designed to allow various programs
to share the data they have in common. In Figure 1-1, Joe has his files and his data, and Sue has her files
and her data. Joe uses the manufacturing budget in his program, but Sue does not. Sue uses salary data,
but Joe does not. In fact, Joe is not even allowed to see or access the salary data; it is privileged
information. Both programmers use product prices.
In Figure 1-2 the programmers have merged their data into an integrated database ("our" data). The
integrated database is defined in the schema, which describes all the data items and relationships in the
entire database. Note, however, that each programmer still has some data (salary and manufacturing) that
is inaccessible to the other, even though it is stored in the integrated database.
Each programmer's individual view of the database is defined in a subschema. The use of a
database management system to develop an integrated database is discussed later in this chapter. For
now, note that a database is an integrated collection of shared files.
The database management
system acts as a sophisticated buffer between applications programs and the data those programs need.
This approach separates data from applications programs and makes data management (the treatment of
data as an important organizational resource) possible. 1-4 Database Planning and Design Techniques
Since database systems involve people from all parts of the organization with a variety of
information needs, the development and operation of database systems must be very carefully planned and
managed. The databases themselves must be carefully designed to provide efficient access to information
required by the various users. The first step in converting to a database approach should be the
development of (1) a master plan that specifies in general terms the various applications and databases to
be included in the overall system and (2) a schedule for detailed design and implementation of these
applications and databases.
Detailed database design consists of three major phases: information requirements analysis, logical
design, and physical design. Information requirements analysis is work done with users to define
information needs. Logical design is the development of schema and subschema definitions. Physical
design establishes exactly how the data will be organized and stored on the storage devices. Database
planning and design are previewed in the next chapter and examined extensively in other chapters of the
DATABASE SYSTEMS AND OTHER
ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Databases and database management systems provide the infrastructure on which other
organizational information systems are built. Organizational information systems include transaction
processing systems (TPS), management information systems (MIS), and decision support systems (DSS).
Relative to the database system, these are applications programs that derive data from the database via the
The relationships among these various systems are illustrated in Figure 1-3. The entire set of
organizational information systems is shown as a pyramid with the DBMS and databases below the base.
Transaction processing systems form the bottom of the pyramid and are the lifeblood systems of the
organization because they support the processing of "production" data--for example, for inventory
maintenance, accounts receivable and payable, and other accounting functions. These transactions provide
most of the internal data used as the basis for generating information for managerial decision-making.
Transactions themselves are usually well defined; forms displayed on terminal screens can be used to
gather and display data. These systems are used primarily by clerical personnel and first-line managers.
Management information systems are in the middle of the pyramid and are used primarily by
middle management to control the organization. These systems derive much of their information by
summarizing and abstracting data from transaction processing systems. They tend to be report oriented;
standard reports are produced periodically (weekly, monthly, or annually) for use by middle managers to
support tasks such as budget decisions and personnel assignments.
Decision support systems are designed to provide information for managerial decision making in
cases where the decision is not clear-cut (ill-structured or semi-structured in DSS jargon). These
problems tend to occur at the apex of the organizational pyramid. Decision support systems often use
mathematical and statistical techniques to manipulate and analyze data. It is difficult to anticipate
information needs in a DSS environment, so these systems must be flexible and adaptable.
Database management technology has been used as the basis for some decision support systems.
These are referred to as data-oriented decision support systems. Many of the examples in this book are
data-oriented decision support systems.
Since decision support systems have become quite popular and often rely on data extracted from
database systems, it is important to understand their relationship to database management systems.
Decision support systems are discussed in Chapter 13. 1-5 EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS AND EFFICIENT SYSTEMS
It is useful to distinguish between effective database systems and efficient database systems.
Effective systems provide correct, current information that is relevant to the decision at hand. Ahituv and
Neumann (1986) refer to effectiveness as "doing the right thing." To provide effective database systems,
analysts must work closely with managers and other users to carefully specify information requirements.
The system cannot be effective unless information needs are accurately determined and the database
system designed to serve those needs.
Efficient systems, on the other hand, perform a task in a cost-effective manner. A database system
must provide the required information at a reasonable cost. Ahituv and Neumann call this "doing the thing
Of the two, the concern for effectiveness predominates. If a database system does not provide
correct, current, relevant information, it does not matter how efficiently the data are processed--it is still
useless. Conversely, if the system is effective, it may contain certain inefficiencies but still be highly useful.
Effective database systems are expensive to develop, but an organization cannot afford to go
bankrupt in developing effective systems. The value of the information provided must exceed the cost of
providing that information.
To illustrate some of the concepts already introduced in this chapter and to explain the need for
effective data management, two case examples are presented next. The first is that of the Conventional
National Bank, which uses the customary file approach to data management. The second contains a
portfolio management example that illustrates the database approach.
Case Example: Data Management at the Conventional National Bank
The Conventional National Bank (CNB) acquired a computer in the mid-1960s to automate check
processing. The bank soon realized that the computer was useful for many other purposes, such as
maintaining information on mortgage loans, auto loans, savings accounts, and portfolios of common stocks,
bonds, and other securities. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the bank converted these applications
from manual to computer-based systems. Most of the software to support these applications was written in
COBOL. By the mid-1970s, thousands of COBOL programs were in use. Some of these programs were
enormous--several thousand lines long. Together, all the programs comprised well over a million lines of
The bank is organized on the basis of the functions it performs: there are departments for checking
accounts, savings accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, trusts, and so on. To reduce the need for
interdepartmental communication, separate data files are maintained for each department. Because the
bank has several thousand customers, and most customers have several accounts, these files now occupy
several billion characters of disk storage.
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