Specifying, choosing and implementing computer systems

How do you ensure ‘what you get’ is ‘what you need’?

Most organisations, large and small, use computer systems and most will prefer to buy a package system already written. This has the advantage that, ‘what you see is what you get’. The problem is: how do you ensure ‘what you get’ is ‘what you need’?

There are two parts to the solution:

1. Understanding what you need.

2. Ensuring what you get delivers what you need in the most efficient and effective manner.

I’ve written a free book (downloadable below) based on my experience implementing a computer system. The ideas are is structured around these two parts:

1. Understanding what you need is determined by understanding your objectives and the information required to achieve these objectives. Knowing the information required enables a choice of computer system to be made.

2. The computer systems you have purchased will be driven by screens used to input data or specify output. Thus the processes you design need to be determined by these screens. The idea suggested in this book is to write the detailed procedures manual around these screens, and their related tasks, as part of the implementation, not after it.

If you are building a computer system ‘in house’ the ideas in the book may still be helpful. Understanding the objectives and the information required will specify the data necessary, and therefore the databases to be built. Writing the detailed procedures manual based around the tasks will assist in determining the input and output screens required.

The book can be downloaded as a pdf document                           Download pdf

Or as a ‘Word’ document, if you wish to amend it.                         Download docx

There is an ‘Excel’ spreadsheet which accompanies the book          Download xls

Depending on your browser settings, these files may open, or you will be given the option to save them on your computer/phone.

Ideally these documents are read on a monitor screen. You may find a phone or tablet changes some formatting.

Since you are reading this on a mobile device you may wish to continue reading the narrative of the book. This can be done by clicking the ‘next page’ button right at the bottom of the page. References in brackets refer to examples in the book (WP) or spreadsheet (SS).

David Griffiths

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