Term Project Case Study Instructions
Willowbrook School is a small private school that has retained your services as a systems analyst to assist in the development of a new information system for the school’s administrative needs.
Willowbrook School is a small, private school in the Midwest United States. For the past 20 years, it has offered a curriculum for preschool through 6th grade. Five years ago it expanded to offer after-school care, usually referred to as after care, on premises. After care is not only offered to Willowbrook’s students, but also for students of other schools in the area.
As an independent systems analyst, you work as an IT consultant, specializing in developing IT solutions for small businesses. You have been contacted by the director, Victoria Owens, to discuss the possibility of setting up a computer system to handle some of the school’s administrative and financial tasks. She explains to you that Willowbrook is experiencing significant increases in enrollment applications for all programs. Increases in applications, coupled with increased demand for after-school care, have led to a very high workload for the administrative personnel and staff. The principal and teachers have stepped in where possible, but the demand is becoming too great. Willowbrook School is a non-profit, and is not in a position to hire another full-time administrative position, which is what the principal and director think would be needed to handle the increased workload. You agree to meet with Victoria and the principal, Kathy Gilliard next week to discuss the school and its need for an information system.
You sit down with Victoria and Kathy on Wednesday to ask them some questions to help you determine what type of information system they need. You explain to them that information systems bring computer hardware and software together with people, processes, and data to produce specific results. They are excited to tell you about their situation and what they have in mind for a computer system to help with some of the work load. To help you with planning for the information system, you ask them about what personnel they have, as well as some questions to determine what types of information each person needs to do their job.
Victoria explains her role as the executive director of the school. She administers the activities of the school in accordance with the mission, vision, and policies established by the Board of Directors. She supports the educational staff and oversees the financial, payroll, and human resources functions for the school. She also prepares all necessary reports and evaluations for the state and local school boards. Kathy says that as the principal of Willowbrook she handles the academic and curricular issues that arise, and ensures that the school meets all federal and state educational standards. Kathy and the teachers who report to her make decisions jointly about admissions and assignments to classrooms. The two kitchen staff personnel, a head cook and an assistant, also report to the principal. She also coordinates students’ bus transportation schedule. The school contracts with a local bussing company to provide transportation for some students in the area. Some after care students are dropped off by the local public school district’s busses, and she coordinates with the district’s transportation department. Kathy also substitutes in any of the school classrooms when a teacher is out.
Susan Brown is the vice principal. She is responsible for the after-care program. While students must be pre-registered for after-care required on a daily basis, the school does offer “drop-in” care on an “as space allows” basis. Susan handles all requests for drop-in care in consultation with the after-care teachers. She also maintains the school calendar, prepares handouts and reminders for parents, keeps track of special dietary needs of the students, and administers the “camps” that run during the two weeks that the school is not in session during the spring, and the summer programs that run through July and August.
Michelle Madrid is the administrative assistant. She sends out monthly bills for tuition and after-care, records payments, and handles bank deposits. She has traditionally handled or been responsible for all administrative tasks related to tuition and after-care fees. She maintains all student records, and ensures that contact and pick-up lists for all classrooms and after-care programs are up-to-date. Currently, Michelle handles all her responsibilities using Microsoft Word and Excel. She is comfortable with the applications, but finds that maintaining records and producing reports, payroll, etc. results in a lot of duplication of effort, as she has to copy a lot of information from one worksheet or document to another.
There are eleven full-time teachers at Willowbrook, three for the pre-school program, two for the kindergarten program, and one for each grades 1-6. There are five teacher’s aides, for the pre-school-kindergarten and the grades 1-3 programs. Teacher’s aides report to their respective teachers. Each teacher is responsible for keeping attendance records and recording them in the student files.
There are six part-time after-care teachers, three for the pre-school/kindergarten group, and three for the primary grades. After-care teachers report to Susan Brown. Each after-care teacher has part-time assistants assigned to the program. Assistants report to the after-care teacher. The number of students pre-registered in the after-care program determines the number of assistants. The after-care teachers are responsible for keeping time sheets for their part-time assistants and submitting them every two weeks to Susan Brown. In addition, the after-care teachers are responsible for submitting weekly summary sheets to Susan Brown detailing any hours above those pre-registered for that students spent in the after-care program, so that parents are billed for the additional time. Like many other non-profit schools, Willowbrook relies on volunteer time from parents to accomplish many of the tasks essential to the running of the school. A financial committee examines monthly financial reports, a fund-raising committee evaluates possible fund-raising projects and handles approved fund-raising. In addition, individual parents step in as needed to do routine office tasks, such as copying and distributing handouts, to free up Michelle Madrid for other tasks. Parents also fill in as assistants in the after-care programs when needed, and qualified parents step into the classroom as teachers’ aides whenever possible to reduce the reliance on substitute teachers.
You explain to Victoria and Kathy that this meeting has given you enough background information to get started and you will prepare some material for the next meeting.
Use the background information you have gathered, along with some creative writing based on research you conduct on other private schools, to develop a business profile for Willowbrook School (refer to page 13 in your textbook).
More Systems Planning Information
After an initial conversation with Victoria and Kathy, the school’s administrators, they have decided that pursuing the possibility of an information system is a good idea. Michelle, the administrative assistant, in particular is feeling the strain of the increased workload associated with the rapid growth in the student population. The system that she has been using, of spreadsheets and word processing documents, worked well when enrollments were smaller, but now the amount of time spent copying information from one place to another is daunting, and the possibility of errors is increasing. An information system is necessary to cope with the growing administrative workload. After your meeting you developed a business profile, organization model, business process model, and began to identify information and processes for Willowbrook School’s new information system.
Based on your initial conversation and the work that you prepared, you begin planning to conduct a preliminary investigation. You call Victoria and discuss with her the strategic plan for the school including its mission and vision. You explain to her that planning IT systems and projects requires a similar approach to strategic planning as the school likely took when it initially created its mission, vision, and strategic plan. She begins to ask you questions about the next steps for developing the information system. You tell Victoria that you will put together a memo for detailing the need for strategic planning and describing the stages of preliminary systems investigations.
Write a memo to Victoria detailing the need for strategic planning and describing the stages of preliminary systems investigations. Make sure the memo contains the proper formal heading and formatting. It should also include two sections. The first should define strategic planning and how Willowbrook School would benefit. The second section details the six stages that you will go through in the preliminary systems investigation (be sure to review the information found on page 66 in your textbook).
Systems Planning - MS Project
You explain to Victoria that for project management, all of the major tasks and more specific, detailed tasks go into a chart that is used to create a work breakdown structure (WBS). After your meeting you sit down to set up the project management for Willowbrook’s new information system by organizing the tasks to be done, creating a WBS, and identifying the critical path for the project.
Create a list of tasks that need to be completed for the new information system based on the information given in the case. Organize your list by estimating how long it will take to complete each task, and list each task’s predecessor task or tasks. Use Figures 3-25 and 3-30 from the text as examples. Create a Gantt Chart using MS Project and be sure to identify the critical path.
Willowbrook School has decided to proceed to the systems analysis phase, based on the findings and proposal you presented after the preliminary investigation. A summary of your fact-finding is as follows:
Registration for Willowbrook School has two components, regular daily students and children in after-care. Regular daily students are divided into groups, dependent on whether the child is in pre-school, kindergarten, or primary school. Children in after-care are divided into two groups, those students who are pre-registered and those who use the service on a “drop-in” basis. Most of the students who are pre-registered for after-care attend the school during the day but some are bussed in from other schools. For a student to be registered, tuition payments must be in good standing.
There are two payment options for tuition and the pre-registered component of after-care, monthly or weekly. Regular daily tuition is based on the academic program in which the student is enrolled. A discount of 5 percent is applied to fees for parents choosing the monthly payment option. Parents who have more than one child enrolled at Willowbrook are eligible for an additional 5 percent multi-child discount on tuition for all enrolled children. Discounts are lost for any payment that is overdue by more than seven days.
Charges for after-care used on a “drop-in” basis are based on an hourly rate, billed in fifteen minute increments. Parents are billed monthly for regular students, and charges are added to the monthly and weekly bills. New bills are generated weekly for “drop-in” care for children who are not pre-registered for after-care or regular daily students. For parents who pay monthly, tuition bills and after-care fees are due on the first of the month, and are distributed to parents one week prior to their being due. For parents who pay weekly, payments are due on Mondays with bills generated on Fridays. Parents who have more than one child enrolled in Willowbrook receive a separate bill for each child. The student’s account must be in good standing for a student to be registered. For the account to be considered to be in good standing, the tuition payment must not be over seven days late. Tuition payments that are over seven days late may be overridden by the director; these cases are handled on a case-by-case basis.
The current registration system is done using Microsoft Excel. Michelle Madrid, the administrative assistant, sets up a new workbook for each academic year. Each month Michelle creates a new worksheet in the workbook. The worksheet contains one line per student, and each line contains the following registration and billing information for the student:
Academic program (pre-school, kindergarten, primary school grade 1-6)
Weekly tuition fee
Billing cycle (Monthly or Weekly)
Amount of discount (calculated field)
Additional care, after-care “drop-in” fees
Total monthly fee (calculated field)
Amount paid to date (calculated field)
Amount outstanding (calculated field)
The entry for each student is updated monthly when bills are prepared, each time a payment is made, and when Michelle enters the data from the after-care reports detailing all “drop-in” hours for each student. Michelle manually calculates the time and the spreadsheet calculates the charges. Monthly statements are generated from the spreadsheets using the mail merge tool in Microsoft Word.
A summary monthly report is generated for the Board of Directors from this spreadsheet summarizing fee collections for tuition and after care. The financial committee, who provides regular oversight for the Board, also receives separate monthly reports detailing payroll expenses for all employees. Reports need to be ready for distribution at the financial committee meeting that is scheduled for the second Tuesday of every month.
Michelle has indicated that the most useful new feature that could be added to the system would be the ability to generate one bill per family, listing each student’s charges separately, and an overall total. Also useful would be the ability to generate a receipt at the time payments are recorded. This receipt should contain information required for reimbursement requests from different types of dependent care and tuition accounts, including name, location, and federal tax ID number of the school. In addition, parents have asked for a separate statement accompanying their bill itemizing all drop-in after-care hours for that statement.
More Systems Analysis Information
Your preliminary investigation and fact-finding tasks are complete. You join Victoria Owens, Willowbrook’s director, for a status update meeting to discuss the progress you have made with the requirements documents you put together. You discuss the system requirements and she is in agreement with you on what you have identified as necessary components of the new system. The new information system will contain components that will register students, generate drop-in reports, generate bills, record payments, generate receipts, and generate monthly reports.
The next step is to develop a logical model of the proposed billing system. You explain to her how you will develop data flow diagrams (DFDs) that will be used to graphically show how data input will move through a system and be turned into useful information.
Prepare a context diagram for the new system using MS Visio.
Based on your earlier recommendations, Willowbrook decided to continue the systems development process for a new information system that would improve operations, decrease costs, and reduce some of the administrative workload.
Now, at the end of the systems analysis phase, you are ready to prepare a system requirements document and present it to the Willowbrook School’s management and board of directors. Many of the proposed system’s advantages were described during the fact-finding process. Those include smoother operation, better efficiency, and more user-friendly procedures for staff and parents.
You must examine tangible costs and benefits to determine the economic feasibility of multiple alternatives. The finance and fund-raising committees will need to examine the costs and benefits to determine if the development process will go ahead. If Willowbrook School decides to go ahead with development, the system can either be developed in-house or purchased as a vertical package and configured to meet the needs of the school.
Currently, Michelle Madrid is logging 10 hours of overtime a week due to the increased workload associated with increased enrollment and school expansion. She is being compensated for overtime at a cost of $22.50 per hour including overhead expenses. Based on current enrollment projections, the overtime will need to be expanded to 15 hours a week in the next school year. The overtime requirement would be eliminated if Willowbrook implements the new system. The current system now causes an average of six errors per week, and each error takes about 20 minutes to correct. The new system should eliminate those errors.
Based on your research, you originally estimated by working 35 hours per week you could complete an in-house development project in about 8 weeks. Your consulting rate, which Willowbrook agreed to, is $35 per hour. If you design the new system as a database application, you can expect to spend about $1,500 for a networked commercial package. One of the parents at Willowbrook has extensive experience with this package as a Database Administrator at a local company, and has committed to providing 10 hours per week working with you to develop the project. After the system is operational and the staff is trained, you hope that Willowbrook staff and volunteers can handle routine maintenance tasks without your assistance. If they continue to require your assistance, a contract rate can be negotiated later depending on the nature of the problem.
As an alternative to in-house development, a vertical software package is available for about $8,500. The vendor offers a lease-purchase package of $2,000 down, followed by two annual installments of $3,250 each. If Willowbrook buys the package, it would take you about three weeks to install, configure, and test it, working full-time. The vendor provides free support during the first year of operation, but then Willowbrook must sign a technical support agreement at an annual cost of $750 for the duration of years. Although the package contains many of the features that Willowbrook wants, most of the reports are pre-designed and it would be difficult to modify their layouts.
You have agreed to provide five hours per week of training and support for the first two months of operation. After the new system is operational, it will need routine maintenance, file backups, and updating. These tasks will require about four hours per week and will be performed by school staff or parent volunteers at an average hourly rate of $12.50.
For both the in-house development and the vertical software package, the necessary hardware will cost about $3,500. Hardware and network installation will be partially provided by three parent volunteers.
In your view, the useful life of the system will be about five years, including the year in which the system becomes operational.
The development of the new system will occur in Year 0, but the system will not be used until Year 1. The school will use the manual system during development, and will switch over to the new system during the month of June, to start the new school year on the new system. Use $15.00 per hour for any rate not previously stated in the case.
Provide an overview of the proposed system, including costs and benefits, with an explanation of the various cost-and-benefit types and categories (A discussion of costs and benefits can be found on page 273 in Chapter 7 and pages 602-605 in Part C of the Systems Analyst’s Toolkit in the text).
The Willowbrook School staff accepted your interface, output, input, and data designs. Now you will determine the system architecture, which translates the logical design of an information system into a physical blueprint.
Design a system architecture for Willowbrook School based on file server or client/server architecture? Discuss advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when making this decision within the context of Willowbrook School. Speak to the cost-benefit issues of file server and client/server designs (refer to pages 406 - 413 in the textbook).
- This Solution has been Purchased 1 time
- Submitted On 21 Jan, 2015 12:34:44