Executives in unified control over a large chain of modern fitness centers realize the need for, and benefits of, initiating a relational database-modeled information system. They have come to understand that in order for them to be in control of the variables that either hinder or enhance their management capabilities; they must have knowledge of the statistical patterns generated by customer usage of the individual facilities. Relational database-modeled information systems store data in the format of tables which are interrelated and can be cross-referenced in a potentially unlimited fashion. The information system will monitor and record operational variables, allowing management on differing levels to have a digital witness of the componential and holistic view of their powerful chain. The benefits they will experience post-implementation are numerous. The ability to instantaneously observe the real time consumer demand for their product and service will enable them to better decide issues concerning resource management, employee attendance and scheduling, janitorial scheduling, special class scheduling, daycare provision, and in general, an unlimited list of potential alternate uses. This of course makes the decision to expend capital for the development and implementation of this tireless monitor of sound judgment. The system is to be designed for customer benefit as well. It will give each center member the electronic ability to customize a personal regimen for fitness, the ability to input individual performance data, and thereby the capacity to monitor their progress towards predetermined goals. Likewise, the
information system will store all financial information for clients as well as serving as an automated billing/collections agent for all monthly/yearly dues. It is the marketing directors’ vision that the newly implemented information system will also provide an edge over the competition in terms of customer satisfaction and involvement. And so the first questions begged are: Which firm will be contracted to develop and deliver this custom made system of data gathering algorithms, and always, what’s it going to cost? It’s going to take several professionals to bring this together.
Roles of those involved in the project:
The firm hired to develop and physically implement the seemingly massive undertaking of strategically customizing, installing, programming, testing, maintaining, and repairing every computational, storage, and networking component will employ several professionals for those tasks. The specific number of centers to be serviced, their geographical proximity, and the specific demands to be met for customer satisfaction- always the bottom line- are all determining factors as to the precise number of persons occupied.
Others playing roles in the project are the fitness executives themselves, the branch managers, and each employee and center member to smaller degrees. Although they are the source of the data to be collected, they are mostly oblivious to the true undertaking. The plan has begun and now progresses to the initial stages of its development. In order to avoid confusion, a memo was produced for all members of the design team from corporate management. It reads:
To information system specialists:
Please be aware that the intent of the new system is primarily to be a monitoring and data gathering device, constantly watching all activities that affect the chain. The system should provide detailed data concerning the usage of individual areas and services available to our customers (i.e. free weight area, machine weights area, aerobic class participation, yoga class participation, personal trainer requests/usage, racquetball court reservations, swimming pool usage, etc.). We want to be ultimately become able to cross reference any and all stored data within the system for use as predicting tools for future development and resource allocation. The interface should be very user friendly as this is not a technical environment. We do not want to frustrate our customers with difficult to use technology. It should be an almost invisible system as far as they are concerned, but still effective at generating statistical data of center usages. Networking techniques should be implemented to include input from all branches individually and/or grouped. The database should be distributed to all branches and to corporate headquarters.
The development of the project is not a meager undertaking. The system must first be investigated to determine the areas in need of creation, revamping, replacement, or elimination. Several factors present themselves for consideration. The system parameters must be defined. Variables must be introduced to monitor details concerning each branch’s information, employee identification and personal information, and client
information as well. The employer has dictated the desire to individually monitor activity levels in differing gym areas such as free weights, machinated resistance equipment, yoga areas, aerobic classes, racquetball court usage, Stairmasters, swimming pools, saunas and Jacuzzis. They desire to ascertain general usage standards thereby exposing the true demand for individual center services/products. Future development of the corporation may see record growth by minimizing investments for development of non-swaying sell points. The individuals inputting data into the system are known as external entities. The variables monitored by an information system are simply known as entities.
They are what the system is being designed to gather data about. Possible variables concerning the individual branches consist of branch identification number, location, number of members, past profit margins, years of operation, and many more dependent again upon the specific requests of the employers. Entities concerning the staff can include personal information, Department of Justice forms, taxation information, emergency contacts, allergies, and the like. Member variables include name, age, weight, height, health histories, fitness goals, and emergency contacts. Fitness trainers will be able to use the information system to not only schedule their clientele, but to investigate key health issues that could greatly affect the training methods employed. Again, the potential usage for the system is only limited by the imagination of the users. With this investigative and defining work complete, the process of systems analysis and development begins.
Considerations for systems analysis and development:
The next stage of this project is dubbed systems analysis and development. Also called the feasibility stage, this is the time to scrutinize the current system in place, and bring to light all of its inadequacies. The substandard structure of data gathering, storage, and dissemination now being utilized is getting a makeover of a highly technical nature. The creation of a business activity model is induced. This is simply a learned understanding of the general force mechanisms exhibited by the particular business in question; an explicit knowing of what is here now, what is already performing with excellent standards, what is no longer sufficient, and what needs entered into the scheme that has not yet been. As it implies systems analysis is the fine-toothed examination of the system that is to be improved upon or replaced. After an understood business activity model is in effect, the procedure advances to the creation of a data flow model.
This aspect of the analysis process determines how data flows in and through the current information system. It considers the activities that transfer the data, storage procedures and capacities, the external entities that input and utilize the data, as well as the avenues of transference available for the data to travel on. The processes or activities that transfer data, data storage, external entities, and data flow are all components of the data flow model – an integral component of the systems analysis stage of any project. A final type of model commonly created for analysis is entity behavior modeling. This is simply the observation of external entities to determine the sequence of events that affect them regularly. These three models are then considered simultaneously to obtain a clear view of the current system. This information is imperative in the upcoming design phase of
operations. Cross-referencing of all data gathered brings to light the individual components necessary for the new information system. Custom programming algorithms are created to address the centers’ needs for success. All hardware and software needs must be considered, obtained, delivered, installed, programmed, troubleshot, and tested numerous times and ways to ensure a smooth-operating, bugless, and hassle-free information system.
The language used in relational database information systems is called Structured Query Language (SQL). In the 1970’s, International Business Machines (IBM) created the Structured English Query System (SEQUEL). SQL was introduced by the Oracle Corporation in 1979 as a commercial database system. This is not a programming language, but it is able to formulate interactive queries within a given database. It is also able to be rooted inside the application itself as a provider of directives for data manipulation. Throughout the years, different dialects of SQL have arisen in attempts to standardize it industry wide. In 1986, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) completed the original SQL standard which was adopted the next year as an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard. Throughout the 1990’s and up to this very second in time, the SQL standard continues to experience revisions and extensions.
These revisions and extensions are the continued standardization implementations necessary in a saturated market that continually evolves to demand faster, more versatile applications.
The relational database in design for our fitness center system is to be a distributed database. This simply implies the existence of two or more data files being shared over a network of at least two computers. This distribution of the database enables multiple users to achieve simultaneous interface ability. Distributed database systems need periodic maintenance to ensure synchronicity amongst varied users – more on this later.
With the analysis stage complete and the members of the design team confident in their interpretation of said analysis, it is time to begin the actual installation of the hardware and software to the various chain branches. Again, physical proximity of individual branches is of concern for the logistical flow of the project – greater distance normally implies more humans involved. More humans involved nearly always implies more human error. A tightly performing team of professionals will continue to educate themselves as to the most efficient methods of project completion. It is imperative to have effective communicatory standards between team members. They need to be in constant availability to one another for maximized progress.
Preventative Maintenance and Systems Review Procedures:
A thoroughly researched, analyzed, planned, developed, and implemented relational database-modeled information system is not an entity that should require the need for frequent repair or troubleshooting. The very nature of the design strategy is in effect to ensure this. However, the reality is that all systems created by erring humans are prone to occasional problematic functioning. The system itself will of course utilize a scheduled
electronic monitoring application. Similarly, reoccurring scheduled electronic maintenance programs should take care of the vast majority of concerns. Corporate management strategy should include the training of key branch employees to be able to perform rudimentary troubleshooting and maintenance actions. This would help to eliminate the costly need for technicians traveling to the various branches or the corporate headquarters. Also each branch employee should be given an overview of relevant topics of concern. Center customers themselves may also need basic instructions for efficient, safe operation of the system. With these factors in place, there should not be a large demand for external technical assistance. A well developed information system should ideally operate in a perpetually smooth fashion. Occasional revisions to the programming schemes may be needed as situations warrant.
Sequence of activities:
In developing a sequence of activities for the implementation of a new relational database information system, it is important to remember several key elements for optimized efficiency. Frequent consultation with the product requester should be assumed. Communication is the bottom line for success in business. They should be included in every step of the process, even if they lack an understanding of the technical side of the project. Gather their needs in mind and progress with the creation of business activity, data flow, and entity behavior models. More time spent here should yield less confusion and less troubleshooting in later stages. Next, a team of professionals should start exploring the modeled results. They should compare them individually and with one
another to construct a realistic representation of the situation at hand. Once a clear understanding is achieved, the design of the physical structuring of the information system can be modeled. More consultation and communication is needed now to ascertain rather or not the models satisfy the product requester’s needs and desires. Once these concerns are thoroughly appeased, the physical implementation may begin. Hardware and software can be shipped to individual branches, inventoried upon arrival, and reported to be present and functional so that the programmers and installers may begin their processes in the endeavor. Through multi-directional communication between developers, requesters, installers, programmers, shippers, orderers, accountants, modelers, and designers, a new information system is born and placed into operation.
Now, what’s needed is a little communication. Observation of the system for bugs, glitches, or plain failures must be ongoing. Training is provided for key personnel in regards to system operation. Most employees will have no need to do more than enter simple data or scan membership identification cards or the like. The system is designed to be nearly invisible for the majority of its users. To gather data from them with minimal involvement from them is of basic design concern. An ongoing communication scheme is placed into action that will ensure scheduled, repetitive information exchange aimed to ensure a minimal need for outside technician assistance. The result should be years of trouble free electronic observation, storage, and ability to manipulate data in a cross-referencing fashion for the long-term decision making capabilities of the chain.
Any business, large or small, needs the capability to observe itself. The trends in spending, peak usage time periods, services requested, employee attendance and a host of alternate important factors of operation, are necessary for the sound ability to make versed decisions concerning the present operation and future growth of the company.
The implementation of a relational database-modeled information system is one motion that upper management can employ to meet the objective of prosperity. With professional attention to analysis and development of such a system, the potential for the development of trend witnessing and predicting becomes virtually unlimited. Indeed, a large chain of any businesses would slowly wither and die in the absence of such a system. Communication of information is a primary key element to business survival.
Announcement of the new system:
Message to all employees and members:
We welcome all of you to the future! The chain has undergone a high-tech makeover all in the name of increased member satisfaction and employee convenience. A new information system has been implemented at all branch locations. This system will conveniently and automatically handle all monthly billing procedures. It will allow each member to customize a fitness plan that will include all of their individual needs. Procedures for membership verification upon entering have been simplified to keep you moving right towards your workout. Please see the management at your branch for any
questions that you may have or develop concerning this or any other matters. Please continue to enjoy the facility. We look forward to serving you in the present, and future.
Naternicola, Nancy (2006, 10, 04). News and Events. Retrieved January 1, 2007, from College of engineering and mineral resources Web site: www.cemr.wvu.edu
Rue, L. W., & Byers, L.L. (2004). Supervision: Key to productivity (8th Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Stair, R.M. & Reynolds, G.W. (2006). Fundamentals of information systems (3rd ed.). Boston: Course Technology
Fundamentals of Information Systems Copyright © 2006 Thomson Course Technology
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