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CHAPTER 20 SYSTEM DESIGN, IMPLEMENTATION, AND OPERATION INTRODUCTION Questions to be addressed in this chapter: What are the activities that take place in the conceptual design phase of the systems development life cycle (SDLC)? What activities take place in the physical systems design phase? What happens during the systems implementation and conversion process? What activities occur in the systems operation and maintenance process? Accountants must understand the entire systems development process and help keep the project on track. Effective systems analysis and design can ensure that developers correctly define the business problem and design the appropriate solution. The crucial phases of the SDLC include: Systems analysis to define the new systems requirements (discussed in Chapter 18). The phases discussed in this chapter, which include conceptual systems design, physical systems design, systems implementation and conversion, and operation and maintenance. CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS DESIGN In the conceptual systems design phase, a general framework is created for implementing user requirements and solving the problems identified in the analysis phase. The three main steps are: (1) evaluating design alternatives, (2) preparing design specifications, and (3) preparing conceptual systems design report. Evaluating Design Alternatives --There are many design decisions that need to be made, e.g., using hard-copy or EDI for a document, using centralized mainframe or distributed processing, doing data entry through keyboard, OCR, etc. Also, there are many ways to approach the systems development process, e.g., packaged software, in-house development, end-user development, or outsourcing. The company also chooses between modifying existing software, replacing existing software, or reengineering its business processes. The design team should identify a variety of design alternatives and evaluate each with respect to how well it meets organizational and system objectives and user needs; economic feasibility; and advantages and disadvantages. The steering committee then evaluates the alternatives. Prepare design specifications --Once a design has been selected, the project team develops the conceptual design specifications for outputs, data storage, inputs, and processing procedures and operations. Prepare the Conceptual Systems Design Report —This report is prepared at the end of the conceptual design phase to guide physical system design activities; communicate how management and user information needs will be met; and help the steering committee assess system feasibility. PHYSICAL SYSTEMS DESIGN
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