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Hardware /Software Selection A major element in building systems is selecting compatible h/w and s/w.

The sys tem analyst has to determine what s/w package is best for the candidate system a nd where s/w is not an issue, the kind of h/w and peripherals needed for the fin al conversion. To do this job, the analyst must be familiar with the computer in dustry ie, what various computers can and cannot do, whether to purchase or lea se a system, the vendors and their outlets and the selection procedure. Procedure for Hardware/Software Selection There are several factors to consider in system selection. 1. Define system capabilities that make sense for business. Computers have proven valuable to business in the following areas. a. Cost reduction includes reduction of inventory, savings on space and imp roved ability to predict business trends. b. Cost avoidance includes early detection of problems and ability to expan d operations without adding clerical help. c. Improved service emphasizes quick availability of information to custome rs, improved accuracy, and fast turnaround. d. Improved profit reflects the bottom line of the business and its ability to keep receivables within reason. 2. Specify the magnitude of the problem Ie, clarify whether selection entails a few peripherals or a major decision conc erning the mainframe. 3. Assess the competence of the in-house staff. This includes determining the expertise needed in areas such as telecommunicatio ns and database design. 4. Consider h/w and s/w as a package. This approach ensures compatibility. S/w should be considered first. The s/w sol ves the problems and h/w drives the s/w to facilitate solutions. 5. Develop a schedule for the selection process Making a schedule helps to keep the project under control. 6. Provide user indoctrination This includes selling the system to the user staff providing adequate training a nd preparing an environment to implementation are prerequisites for system acqui sition Major Phases in Selection The selection process should be viewed as a project and a project team s hould be organized with management staff. In larger projects the team should inc ludes one or more user representatives , an analyst, and EDP auditor and a consu ltant. Several steps included in it are 1. Requirement analysis The first step in selection is understanding the users requirements within the f ramework of the organizations objectives and environment in which the system is being installed. In selecting a s/w, the user must decide whether to develop it in house, hire a service company or a contract programmer to create it, or simp ly acquire it from s/w house. The choice is made after the user has clearly defi ned the requirements expected of the s/w. 2. System specifications After requirements analysis the next step is to identify the specification of th e systems. This include system objectives, flowcharts, input-output requirements , file structure and cost. The specification must also describe each aspect of t he system clearly, consistently and completely. 3. Request for Proposal (RFP) After the requirements analysis and system specifications have been determined, a request for proposal (RFP) is drafted and sent to selected vendors for bidding . Bids submitted are based on discussions with vendors. The RFP should include a. Complete statement of the system specifications, programming language, p rice range, terms and time frame. b. Request for vendors responsibilities for conversion, training and mainten

ance c. Warranties and terms of license or contractual limitations. d. Request for financial statement of vendor e. Size of staff available for system support 4. Evaluation and Validation The evaluation phase ranks vendor proposals and determines the one best suited t o the users needs. It includes items such as price, availability and technical s upport. System validation ensures that the vendor can claim the system performan ce. 5. Vendor selection This step determines the best vendor with the best combination of reputation, re liability, service record, training, delivery time and conversion schedule. Init ially, a decision is made on which vendor to contact. The sources available to c heck on vendors include the following a. Users b. s/w houses c. trade associations d. universities e. publications/journals f. vendor s/w lists g. vendor referral directories h. consultants i. industry contacts Copies of the vendors annual financial statement are also requested. Once receive d, each vendors report is matched with the selection criteria. Those that come th e closest are invited to give a presentation of their system. Software Selection S/w selection is a critical aspect of system development. System selecti on starts with s/w selection followed by h/w selection. Criteria for software selection The criteria for selecting the s/w are 1. reliability 2. functionality 3. capacity 4. flexibility 5. usability 6. security 7. performance 8. serviceability 9. ownership 10. minimal costs 1. reliability it is the probability that the s/w will execute for a specified time period with out a failure. It relates to the ease of recovery and ability to give consisten t results. 2. Functionality It is the definition of the facilities, performance and other factors that the u ser requires in the finished product. 3. Capacity Capacity refers to the capability of the s/w package to handle the users require ments for size of files, number of data elements, volume of transactions and rep orts and the no.of occurrences of data elements. All limitations should be check ed. 4. Flexibility It is the measure of the effort required to modify an operational program. One f eature of flexibility is adaptability, which is a measure of the ease of extendi ng the product. 5. Usability

This refers to the effort required to operate, prepare the i/p and interpret the o/p of a program. Additional points to be considered are portability and unders tandability. Portability refers to the ability of the s/w to be used on different h/w and operating systems. Understandability means that the purpose of the product is clear to the evaluator and that the package is clearly and simply written, is free of jargon and contains sufficient references to readily available document s so that the reader can comprehend advanced contents. 6. Security This refers that a systems user can accidently or intentionally access or destroy unauthorized data. 7. Performance It is the measure of the capacity of the s/w package to do what it is expected t o do. The language in which, the package is written and the operating system are addit ional performance considerations. 8. Serviceability This criterion focuses on documentation and vendor support. It includes a narra tive description of the system, system logic and logic flowcharts, i/p-o/p and f ile descriptions and layouts and operator instructions. Vendor support assures t he technical support for s/w installation, enhancements and maintenance. The use r should determine how much on-site technical assistance is provided by the vend or, especially during the first few weeks after the installation. 9. Ownership Who owns the s/w once it is sold to the user. Ie, the source code is inaccessibl e for modification, except the vendor. In acquiring s/w, several questions shoul d be asked What rights to the s/w is the user buying? Can the user sell or modify the s/w? If the vendor is modifying the s/w especially for the user, can the vendor sell it to others? What restrictions are there to copying the s/w or documentation? 10. Minimal cost Cost is a major consideration in deciding between in-house and vendor s/ con sider the following points. Development and conversion costs Delivery schedule Cost and frequency of s/w modifications Usable life span of the package. Evaluation Process The sources of information used for evaluating h/w and s/w are 1. Benchmark programs 2. Experience of other users 3. Product reference manuals A benchmark is a sample program used for evaluating different computers and thei r software. This is necessary because computers often will not use the same inst ructions, words of memory, or machine cycle to solve a problem. In s/w selection , benchmarking may include the following. 1. Determination of minimum h/w configuration needed to operate a package. 2. An acceptance test as specified in the contract 3. Testing in an ideal environment to determine comparative timings and in a normal environment to determine its influence on other programs. The experience of other users with the same s/w, s/w, or service is important. Vendors are generally willing to provide a list of reference accounts or people with whom to check. Experience shows that users on such a list happen to be sat

isfied customers and therefore are not typical users. . An important step in the evaluation process is to read product reference manuals that evaluate system capabilities. Performance evaluation Evaluating a system includes the h/w and s/w as a unit. H/w selection r equires an analysis of several performance categories. 1. System availability - when will the system available 2. Compatibility how compatible is the system with esisting programs? 3. Cost what is the cost of the system? 4. Performance 5. Uptime 6. Support 7. Usability how easy to use the program, modify and operate the system. For the s/w selection, the following factors are considered. 1. The programming language and its suitability to the application 2. Ease of installation and training 3. Extent of enhancements to me made prior to installation In addition to h/w and s/w, the quality of vendors services should be examined. It includes, 1. Backup emergency computer backup available from vendor 2. Conversion programming and installation service provided during conversi on 3. Maintenance adequacy and cost of h/w maintenance 4. system development availability of system analysts and programmers for s ystem development.