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Learning Objectives
To describe and employ a
structured approach to acquiring
an AIS.
To understand the nature and
scope of accountants
involvement when acquiring an
To be able to select an AIS that is
aligned with the organizations
To appreciate the importance of
conducting proper and through
AIS needs assessments.
To use a needs analysis program,
called The Accounting Library, to
help narrow down the potential
set of AIS solutions.
To select a final AIS solution from
among competing alternatives.
To recognize that the best AIS
can fail if the implementation is
Demand Pressures on the AIS
Users are demanding added functionality and increased
access to the AIS.
Customers want better service, measured by flexibility, speed,
quality, and availability (24/7).
To facilitate interconnectivity of business processes and
improve internal control often requires reengineering of the
existing business and information processes.
To reduce costs and provide better service, many
organizations are using supply chain integration with trading
Internet, and wireless functionalities are must have features
for some organizations when selecting an AIS.
Metrics - measures of profitability of customers and products,
the efficiency of production functions, and the performance of
vendors all depend, partly, on data in the AIS.
Focus of this Chapter
How to acquire an AIS solution from an
external vendor in a methodical and controlled
Discuss the issues and procedures involved in:
Conducting a preliminary survey.
Performing a needs analysis.
Evaluating alternative solutions.
Purchasing an AIS from an external vendor.
Organizations not wishing to or unable to develop
software in-house may purchase, rent, or lease a
commercially available software package.
A turnkey system is a system in which a supplier
has purchased computer hardware and has
developed or acquired software to put together a
computer system to be sold to end users.
A service bureau is a firm providing information
processing services, including software and
hardware, for a fee.
Systems integrators are consulting/systems
development firms that develop and install systems
under contract. Major consulting firms include:
Deloitte Consulting, Cap Gemini, BearingPoint, Accenture,
and IBM Consulting.
Systems Integrators
Application Service Providers
Acquiring an AIS from External
Software developed in-house can cost up to
10 times more than purchased software.
Annual maintenance of in-house software is
typically 50 percent of the development cost
annual maintenance for purchased software
normally costs only 25 percent of the purchase
When a suitable standard package exists,
buy it rather than try to reinvent it in-house.
Phases of the AIS Acquisition
A structured AIS acquisition process, is
comprised of four distinct phases:
1. Analysis.
2. Selection.
3. Implementation.
4. Operation.
The Accounting Library, is a software
program that accountants can use to help
narrow down a potential subset of
commercially available accounting systems
AIS Acquisition Phases
Accountants Involvement in AIS Acquisition
Reasons Organizations Fail to
Achieve AIS Acquisition Objectives
Lack of senior management support.
Shifting user needs.
Emerging technologies.
Lack of standard project management and AIS
acquisition methodologies.
Failure to appreciate and act on strategic,
organizational, and business process changes that
may be required.
Resistance to change.
Lack of user participation.
Inadequate testing and user training.
Project Management Items
Associated with Failed Projects
Underestimation of the time to complete the
Inadequate attention by senior management.
Underestimation of necessary resources.
Underestimation of project size and scope.
Inadequate project control mechanisms.
Changing systems specifications.
Inadequate planning.
Effective Project Management
User participation in defining and authorizing the
Assignment of appropriate staff to the project,
along with specific definitions of their
responsibilities and authorities.
A clear written statement of the project nature
and scope.
A feasibility study that serves as the basis for
senior management approval to proceed with the
A project master plan, including realistic time and
cost estimates, to facilitate project control.
Effective Project Management
A risk management program to identify and
handle risks associated with each project.
Division of the project into manageable
chunks, often called phases. Phases
should be subdivided into steps, and steps
into tasks.
Documentation and approval of work
accomplished in one phase before working
on the next phase.
AIS Analysis Two Steps
1. Conduct a preliminary survey.
2. Perform a needs analysis.
Conduct a Preliminary Survey
Gather facts.
Perform a feasibility study.
Devise project plan.
Obtain approvals.
Conduct a Preliminary Survey
Gather Facts
Determine whether a problem exists.
Refine the nature of the problem.
Determine the scope of the problem.
Obtain information to conduct a
preliminary feasibility study.
Devise a plan for conducting the
Perform Feasibility Study
Technical feasibility. A problem has a technically feasible solution if it
can be solved using available hardware and software technology.
Operational feasibility. A problem has an operationally feasible
solution if it can be solved given the organizations available (already
possessed or obtainable) personnel and procedures.
Consider behavioral reactions to the systems change.
Timing and scheduling may also be factors.
Organization may have available resources but cannot or will not commit
them at this time because of union rules or resistance to change.
May wish to scale down a project, take an alternative course of action, or
break the project into smaller projects to better fit their scheduling needs.
Economic feasibility. A problem has an economically feasible
solution if:
Net benefit estimates (benefits minus costs) for the AIS acquisition meet or
exceed a minimum threshold set by the organization.
The project compares favorably to competing uses for the organizations
Devise a Project Plan
The project plan includes a broad plan for the
entire development, as well as a specific plan
for needs analysisthe next acquisition step.
The project plan typically includes:
Estimated project scope.
Recommended acquisition team structure,
members, and leaders.
Required tasks.
Required personnel skills.
Sources of required information.
Estimated analysis costs.
Timetable and estimated costs for the entire
acquisition and implementation.
Why Project Plans are Developed
Provide a means to schedule the use of required
Indicate major project milestones to monitor the projects
progress and whether it is on schedule?
Forecast the project budget, which is used to authorize
project continuation.
Furnish guidelines for making a go or no-go decision.
Are the costs and benefits as projected?
Is the utilization of these resources (monetary and personnel) in
the best interest of the organization at this time?
Offer a framework by which management can determine
the reasonableness and completeness of the projects
Is there a complete list of tasks, and are these tasks properly
matched with the required skills?
Are the proper information sources being investigated?
Obtain Approvals
Preliminary survey approvals fall into two categories:
1. User/participant approvals:
Verify the accuracy of any interviews or observations and the
accuracy, completeness, and reasonableness of the survey
documentation and conclusions.
2. Management control point approvals:
Management approval of further development work (i.e., a
go/no-go decision).
Upper management control points occur at the end of each
step of each acquisition phase (e.g., AIS preliminary survey,
AIS needs analysis, etc.).
Project management control points occur at the completion of
tasks within each step (e.g., gather facts, perform feasibility
study, etc.).
End-of-phase signoffs by upper management are necessary to
ensure that the analyst (or analysis team) follows prescribed
procedures and to verify the reasonableness of any
assumptions made about such factors as constraints,
objectives, and operational feasibility.
Approved Feasibility Document
Perform Needs Analysis
Study current AIS.
Define future AIS needs.
Develop AIS configuration.
Approve needs analysis.
Perform Needs Analysis
Study the Current AIS
Evaluate physical requirements.
Workload volume, peak processing loads, response times,
report layouts, input documents and screens, operating
systems, computer hardware, and communication systems.
Please refer to Appendix S1 (page 30) and load The
Accounting Library on your computer, using the CD provided
with this supplement.
Evaluate logical specifications.
Logical specifications describe the internal reasoning of the
current system, such as how input, processing, and output
data are linked; relationships among entities, data attributes,
and data tables; and workflow automation processes.
Please refer to Wallys Retail Bonanza works as shown on
Figure S1.4 (page 20).
Evaluation of Logical Specifications
Define Future AIS Needs
Logical specifications:
Survey and interview all affected parties to determine the
future logical design.
Compare Figure S1.4 to Figure S1.7.
Physical requirements:
Go to TAL and print out all of the Itemized Need Definition
requirements for the Order Entry applications.
Checkboxes indicate which needs are applicable.
These needs are prioritized from 0 (very low priority) to 9
(very high priority) (see Figure S1.8 on page 24 for a sample
The completed itemized needs analysis will serve to
document the future physical requirements.
Define Future AIS Needs
Define Future AIS Needs
AIS Selection
Two steps:
1. Evaluating feasible solutions (Figure S1.1
bubble 3.0).
2. Determining the final solution (Figure S1.1
bubble 4.0).
Both of these steps and their tasks are
discussed next.
Evaluate Feasible Solutions
Match Specifications with
Potential Solutions
To match specifications, we will use The Accounting
Library (TAL).
Follow the instructions on pages 24-26 of the text.
The TAL will produce reports ranking products matching the
requirements that you input into the TAL software.
You should end up with one or more commercially available
software solutions.
If none of the commercially available software solutions meet
the needs of the organization, then either the requirements
need to be adjusted or one of the commercially available
software solutions will have to be modified to fit the business
processes of the organization.
Determine Feasible Solutions
In the last step, the available AIS solutions
are narrowed down to a set of potential
solutions, based on need requirements.
There may also be some reasons why one or
more solutions in the set cannot be included.
Once the potential set has been reduced, you
will end up with a feasible AIS solution set.
Determine Final Solution
Request Proposals from Vendors
Recommend Final Solution
Select the winning candidate.
You should also get references from
companies who are using the vendors
You should also search the Internet for
reviews on and comments about the
AIS solution.
Approve Final Solution
At a minimum, one or more representatives from
upper management, all user groups, and the project
manager need to approve the recommended AIS
This process might involve an iterative series of
questions and answers among all affected parties.
Once everyone is satisfied, the organization should
meet with its legal representative to develop and
ratify a contract with the vendor.
Logical specifications and physical requirements of
the final solution are then forwarded to the
implementation team.