A Systems Analysis and Design Case: ABC Church
The information systems (IS) profession requires a diverse blend of technical and non-technical skills. To develop
these skills, IS educators often use group projects in systems analysis and design courses, sometimes involving written
cases. This article presents a case that can be utilized for a group project in a systems analysis and design course. The
case is sufficiently detailed to stimulate students' creative thinking about a systems solution. It also concerns an
organization with which most students have some life experience, a church. The case emphasizes the church as an
organization with information needs. This article presents background information about the case, the text of the case,
and a discussion of analysis and design phase requirements. Teaching notes and possible solutions for selected project
requirements are also provided. These materials are designed to be useful to systems analysis and design instructors
who want to use a written case for a group project in their courses.
Keywords: systems analysis and design, systems development, case
Various studies have shown that employers value
teamwork, problem solving, and oral and written
communications skills in information systems graduates
as well as technical skills (Lee et al. 1995; Richards et
al. 1998; Tang et al. 2000-2001; Van Slyke et al. 1998;
Young and Lee 1996; Cappel 2001). The need for a
broad range of skills in new information systems (IS)
graduates is also recognized in curricula models for IS
programs (IS'97 Model Curriculum; IRMA Curriculum
Systems development often occurs in the workplace in a
team environment. Effective development involves not
only understanding systems concepts, but being able to
apply them to specific situations. Consequently, IS
advisory board members often stress to educators the
importance of teamwork and problem solving in the IS
To develop students' technical and non-technical skills,
many information systems (IS) educators utilize group
projects in systems analysis and design courses.
Broadly speaking, two major alternatives are available
for the use of cases. First, an instructor can assign a
system development project for an actual organization.
This approach is sometimes driven by requests to
instructors for systems from parties on or off campus.
Alternatively, students can be asked to locate their own
client for a development project. Systems development
for "real world" clients has a number of important
advantages including: realism, the ability to interact with
clients, and the potential to produce a system that is
useful to an organization.
However, several challenges are also raised by this
approach. First, it may be difficult to find clients with suitable projects that are "doable" in the limited time frame of a semester or quarter. Second, this approach depends upon the availability of organizational personnel to meet with students in interviews early in the semester and periodically throughout the course. If company personnel do not provide adequate support for a project, it can get hopelessly behind. Finally, if students are allowed to locate their own clients, they will work on different types of systems for different businesses. This places a greater burden on the instructor in terms of time and complexity, and it does not provide a common vantage point for all students in class discussions.
For these reasons, a viable alternative in many situations
is to use a written case for a group project in a systems
analysis and design course. Ideally, a written case
should possess several qualities. It should be
interesting, realistic, and challenging to students,
without being overly complex. A case should concern a
type of organization and subject matter with which most
students have some level of experience. This helps
students in conceptualizing the problem and possible
solutions. The length of the case is also important. A
case should provide sufficient details about the problem
and situation to allow the project's requirements to be
fulfilled. Yet, a case that provides too many details may
limit students' creativity, problem solving, and ability to
formulate relevant questions.
This article presents a written case that is designed to be
engaging, realistic, and sufficiently detailed for use in a
group project in a systems analysis and design course.
The author was inspired to prepare this case after
reviewing existing published cases in textbooks and
other sources. While some good cases were available,
many others were either too lengthy, detailed, or
complex, or too brief and insufficiently detailed to be
The case presented here was utilized for a semester-long
group project in an undergraduate systems analysis and
design course at a large public university in the
Midwest. This course is the first of a two-course
sequence that IS majors take in systems development.
This course focuses primarily on analysis and design,
while the second course gives greater emphasis to
systems implementation. While the focus presented
here is on analysis and design issues, the case could also
likely be used as is, or in modified form, for a systems
application development course.
Students worked in groups of approximately five
members to address this case in two phases. The
requirements for the first phase, analysis, were
submitted approximately at mid-semester, while the
second phase (design) requirements were completed by
the end of the semester. In addition to the written
requirements, each group made a presentation about
either the analysis or design phase as randomly assigned
by the instructor.
The case is about a fictitious church, but its details are
designed to be realistic based on an analysis of written
documents and the authors' personal experience with a
specific church. The organization in the case is called
"ABC Church" to avoid any reference to a specific
religious denomination, which might offend some
students. Instead, the case emphasizes the church as an
organization with informational needs. In this regard, it
is not unlike many other types of organizations. For
example, to remain viable, this organization must track
its sources of come just like other for-profit and nonprofit
enterprises. The case also raises the issue of
members making and satisfying financial pledges,
which are activities that exist in other settings such as
for non-profit, hospitals or public television stations.
Thus, in many ways the church's operational activities
are generalizable to other types of organizations.
The text of the case is presented next. Note that the
scope of the system involves revenues and record
keeping requirements for ceremonies. While the church
would also have other operational aspects such as the
payment of expenses, these are not considered for
purposes of this case. The remainder of the article
presents a discussion of project requirements for the
analysis and design phases, along with some teaching
notes about the case and possible solutions.
3. SYSTEMS ANALYSIS AND DESIGN CASE:
ABC Church is a fast-growing church in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. Over the past three years, since the popular
Reverend Timothy Beck has taken over leadership of
the congregation, the church has more than doubled in
size. It now has approximately 400 registered
households. Reverend Jason Howard has also recently
been added as a second minister. Since the Church was
rather small in the past, most of its records have been
kept on paper forms. However, the Church's Business
Manager, Margie Robbens, has suggested to Reverend
Beck that a computerized system might help the Church
better meet its information needs and manage its
In addition to Ms. Robbens, the Church employs a parttime
administrative assistant, Mabel McGonahey.
Mabel performs clerical duties such as filing, record
keeping, answering phone calls, and typing the weekly
church bulletin using WordPerfect for Windows on the
Church's only personal computer. A retiree, Leroy
Strickly, is employed as a part-time maintenance person.
Jack Fogerty serves in a part-time, paid position as
Choir Director, leading the ten member volunteer choir
who practice on Wednesday evenings and sing during
Sunday services. Three services are held each Sunday.
The Church also uses volunteer Lay Ministers to assist
Reverend Beck in Sunday services.
From a business point of view, one thing the Church
must be concerned with is registering new members.
When a prospective member wants to join, Reverend
Beck holds a personal meeting with that person and
his/her family to get better acquainted. Shortly
thereafter, the household is mailed pre-numbered
envelopes for use in the regular Sunday collections.
Most contributions are made to the Church using these
envelopes, although about 20% of each collection comes
from "loose offerings" of cash and checks. A household
also receives an additional envelope each month for use
in the Church's capital improvement campaign to fulfill
its campaign pledges. Contributions to this fund are
collected in Church on the second week of each month.
Envelopes are mailed to households toward the end of
each month for use during the following month.
The capital improvement campaign has just been
established for the purpose of purchasing a nearby
property to build additional parking to accommodate the
Church's growing membership. The cost of acquiring
the property, paving it, and making it ready for use is
$250,000. The Church obtained a bank loan to finance
this project, and it makes regular payments on this loan
from members' monthly contributions. Households
were provided with a pledge form to state their
commitment of how much money they would contribute
to this campaign over the next three years. As
contributions are made, the remaining balance on a
pledge is reduced.
Since ABC Church is legally recognized as a non-profit
organization, all member contributions are tax
deductible. In January, the Church sends the head of
household a summary report of all contributions made
using envelopes during the previous year for use in
income tax preparation.
The Church must also keep track of records of its
ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. A
baptism is a formal initiation ceremony into the Church
for infants and some adults. Adults must first attend
weekly preparation classes for three months before
being baptized. Besides the parents, a new inductee into
the Church also has sponsors called a Godmother and
Godfather. For couples who wish to get married in the
Church, at least one member of the couple must be a
member of the Church. Couples go through weekly
preparation classes for two months before the ceremony
ABC Church is part of a larger network of churches of
the same denomination. This denomination has one
other church in the Grand Rapids area and over 250
churches nationwide. The regional headquarters for the
denomination is in Detroit. The Church's other regional
offices are in New York, Miami, and Seattle. ABC
Church must submit regular monthly reports to the
Detroit office about its ceremonies and finances.
Ms. Robbens and Reverend Beck have hired your small,
information systems consulting firm to look into the
possibility of developing an information system for the
Church. This system will address the organization's
revenue sources and its record keeping requirements.
1) How do i make a Gantt Chart and PERT chart using MS Project with the help of the case study above
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