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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.



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

is performed.

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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