4. (15) Tim Stallard is a systems analyst at Johnson Electronic Supply. He has only been a systems analyst for six
months. Unusual personnel turnover had thrust him into the position after only 18 months as a programmer. Now it is time for his semiannual job performance review. (Scene Tim enters the office of Ken Delphi. Ken is the Assistant Director of MIS at Johnson.)
Ken Another six months! It hardly seems that long since your last job performance review.
Tim I personally feel very good about my progress over the last six months. This new position has been an eye-opener. I didn't realize that analysts do so much writing. I enrolled in some continuing education writing classes at the local junior college. The courses are helping ... I think.
Ken I wondered what you did. It shows in everything from your memos to your reports. More than any technical skills, your ability to communicate will determine your long-term career growth here at Johnson. Now, let's look at your progress in other areas. Yes, you've been supervising the Materials Requirements Planning project implementation for the last few months. This is your first real experience with the entire implementation process, right?
Tim Yes. You know, I was a programmer for 18 months. I thought I knew everything there was to know about systems implementation. But this project has taught me otherwise.
Ken How's that?
Tim The computer programming tasks have gone smoothly. In fact, we finished the entire system of programs six weeks ahead of schedule.
Ken I don't mean to interrupt, but I just want to reaffirm the role your design specifications played in accelerating the computer programming tasks. Bob has told me repeatedly that he had never seen such thorough and complete design specifications. The programmers seem to know exactly what to do.
Tim Thanks! That really makes me feel good. It takes a lot of time to prepare design specifications like that, but I think that it really pays off during implementation. Now, what was I going to say? Oh yes. Even though the programming and testing were completed ahead of schedule, the system still hasn't been placed into operation; it's two weeks late.
Ken That means you lost the six-week buffer plus another two weeks. What happened?
Tim Well, I'm to blame. I just didn't know enough about the nonprogramming activities of systems implementation. First, I underestimated the difficulties of training. My first-draft training manual made too many assumptions about computer familiarity. My end-users didn't understand the instructions, and I had to rewrite the manual. I also decided to conduct some training classes for the end users. My instructional delivery was terrible, to put it mildly. I guess I never really considered the possibility that, as a systems analyst, I'd have to be a teacher. I think I owe a few apologies to some of my former instructors. I can't believe how much time needs to go into preparing for a class.
Ken Yes, especially when you're technically oriented and your audience is not.
Tim Anyway, that cost me more time than I had anticipated. But there are still other implementation problems that have to be solved. And I didn't budget time for them!
Ken Like what?
Tim Like getting data into the new databases. We have entered several thousand new records. And to top it off, operations has requested that we run the new system in parallel with the old system for at least two months. I am weighing the pros and cons, and will be presenting a changeover plan to senior management approval next week.
Ken Well, Tim, I think you're learning a lot. Obviously, we threw you to the wolves on this project. But I needed Bob's experience and attention elsewhere. I knew when I pulled Bob off the project that it could introduce delays -- I call it the rookie factor. Under normal circumstances, I would never have let you work on this alone. But you're doing a good job and you're learning. We have to take the circumstances into consideration. You'll obviously feel some heat from your end-users because the implementation is behind schedule, and I want you to deal with that on your own. I think you can handle it. But don't hesitate to call on Bob or me for advice. Now, let's talk about some training and job goals for the next six months.
a. Above and beyond programming, identify the other activities make up systems implementation.
b. Identify the specific groups of trainees, and the type of training you would recommend for each group.
c. What initial assumption do you think Tim made about changeover from the old system to the new system? Identify the changeover approach you would recommend for the Materials Requirements Planning system?