Tuesday, June 4, 2013

System life cycle

Systems have been increasingly used in both the industrialized as well as the developing world to carry out various activities which are aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the various operations. When the systems fail, there is a very high rate off complexity that it may have been caused by a variety of reasons which may range from the system itself failing or the project itself failing. The system failures might be total failures, partial failures or cases of down time where the system cannot effectively carry out its role especially through unavailability for a certain period of time (Donaldson and Jenkins, p. 1). All these would have a great negative effect on the systems functioning. The system failure that has been experienced at the firm includes both hardware as well a\s software problems which have increasingly affected the ability of Top Cuts and their competitors to be able to offer high quality service to their customers. At the Top Cuts’ competitors, the problem was the system was introduced hurriedly so that the proper system introduction mechanism was not followed. At Top Cuts however, the problem was both with the software usage as well as the various capacity of the hardware as it was not able to run the heavy system that was introduced by the firm to be able to deal with the hairdressing needs of the firm. The paper will entail elements of the various system failures as well as the way through which Top Cuts could introduce the Systems Life Cycle. Various causes of system failure Top Cuts experienced a system failure which led to the dissatisfaction of their various customers especially due to the fact that some of them had terrible experience regarding the various services that they received from the firm. The system failures are always caused by a variety of factors which revolve around the three categories of; the various engineering requirements, the various interventions of the humans as well as the various resources that are available to the firms. These are the three most common and general causes of the system failures (Donaldson and Jenkins, p. 2). They are further broken down into sub-categories which involve elements of planning, ambiguity in the specifications for the systems etc. These causes are complex and numerous and are highly interactive thus it’s not rare to find a system failure that has been caused by an interplay of a variety of factors. The first reason for failure of the many systems is the high expectation rate especially regarding how the system is going to help in the betterment of the livelihood of the people who are going to use it. This mostly results from the novel situation that is associated with the introduction of the new systems. The developers of the system must be able to take this into account as the failures will definitely be of detriment to the prospects of the business. This was the case at Top Cuts as the firm had created a high level of expectancy from their consumers as they were told that they would be able to advice the clients on the possible hairstyles that would suit them. The second reason for failure of the systems is fashion especially if the projects that the firms are thinking of undertaking are too massive or inappropriate for their circumstances. The problems that were experienced at Top Cuts’ competitors included those associated with the size of the operations as the hardware systems were not able to deal with the various activities which they were meant to support. At the firm, the system, mostly the hardware was not able to deal with the data that was fed into it effectively. Also, there were problem with the cameras which were not able to take the images of the customers so that they could be superimposed onto the various hairstyles that were available in the databases of the firm (Donaldson and Jenkins, p. 4). Thirdly, there are issues of the interests of the different stakeholders that are to be affected by the system. This plays out in the firm of the varied reactions of the human beings who are involved in the various activities of the firm. At the competitors of the firm, there were problems with the different interests which were at play at the firm. There was the issue of the needs of the customers which had to be satisfied, the needs of the firm to appear at the top of the competition and the low level of the skills of the various employees who were to be involved in the running of the system. Effects of system failure The effects of the failures of the systems would be greats on all the organizations and individuals who come into direct contact with the system. The effects can either be direct or indirect depending on the organization or the people who are affected. The various people who are affected by the system will include those who are engaged in the maintenance as well as the development of the system in some cases. They also include the people who are interacting with the projects or the system for example the employees of the firm as well as the customers whom the firm is interacting with (Donaldson and Jenkins, p. 4). The effects on the organization will be massive for instance in terms of bad publicity especially when the consumers have unpleasant experience with the system, financial losses, lowering of the morale of the employees thus lower performance, and finally, system failure may lead to the over usage or the depletion of the assets and capital of the firm. This can be in the form of the correction of the errors that the system has experienced, or in building a totally new system. System life cycle System life cycle refers to the evolution of the new systems that the firm is working at from the very instance when it is conceived through to the development, production, operation and the disposal. There is a general usage of great analysis and the conception of the project (new system), it then moves to the engineering phase where there is the development and the testing of the system. Finally, it moves to the production and operationalization phase. Due to the dynamic nature of the systems, decisions have to be made at the different levels of the systems development so that it can be determined whether the system development can move to the next levels. The system life cycle is always divided into three phases; the first is the concept development which contains the various elements such as analysis of the various needs, the exploration of the concepts and finally the definition of the concepts. The second stage is the development stage where the advanced development of the system is carried out. This is the phase where the design as well as the evaluation of the design is carried out (Kossiakoff, Sweet, Seymour, and Biemer, p. 72). They also identified the third phase which is known as the post development stage where there are three main activities; the actual production of the system, the operation as well as the support for the system. All the systems that are made by humans must pass through the stages that have been mentioned above; in simple terms it can be said that all systems must be undergo the process of conceptualization, planning, organizing, scheduling, cost estimation, procurement, deployment, operation, support and finally disposal if the system can no longer serve the purpose for which it was built (Wasson, p. 59). Concept development phase This is the first phase of the development of a new system. It contains three main elements which had been mentioned above for instance; analysis of the needs, concept exploration and concept definition. The cycle or process begins with the analysis of the needs. This is where the need for the new system is determined. The determination is done through answering of questions regarding how the system that the firm currently has is not able to or wills not be able to satisfy the future needs of the firm. Considerations are also done regarding the capability of the hardware and other technology that is available to the firm to support the system. At Top Cuts, the main problem that was being experienced is the inability of the current system to clearly suit the different styles to the needs of the clients. This phase will result into two main outputs; the operational effectiveness and the capabilities that the new system that is to be developed must have. This is usually the first iteration of the project that the firm seeks to undertake and is sometimes called initial capability description in the project development circles (Kossiakoff, Sweet, Seymour, and Biemer, p. 77). Following the problem that was identified at Top Cut, the new system must be able to give the firm a clearer picture of the various hairstyles that would be most appropriate for their clients thus reducing the possibility of the dissatisfaction of the customers. The second phase is that of concept exploration to determine the performance level needed of the new system and ways through which the performance can be achieved. A range of possibilities or alternatives for the achievement of the new system is important at this stage. To achieve this, deep analysis, brain storming and use of decision support tools will be needed to prove the feasibility of the project (Kossiakoff, et al., p. 77). Finally, the concept is defined, where the preferred concept is chosen especially in relation to the needs, i.e. the ability to offer search support, to store huge databases of hairstyles and ability to take pictures of clients and superimpose them on the hairstyles. Also, the systems must have simple functionality. The whole of the concept development phase form part of the feasibility study and it determines whether the project is worth pursuing. Engineering development phase It begins with the advanced development of the system especially the specification of the system functionality and is heavily reliant on the success of the previous stage. Here the various components of the system are defined, the sub-systems are also defined and there is also some element of risk management. The system developers must work to reduce the number of problems that may arise (Kossiakoff et al., p.79). This is where the new parts of the system which use advanced technology are designed and tried so that their practicality can be determined for instance the use of the Cameras to take pictures off the clients. This will lay the foundation for the conversion of the requirements of the functional system into the design requirements and system specifications. To be sure that the system can be designed and manufactured, a model is produced at this stage while all the risk that may face the project at this stage are also mitigated. Secondly, there is the design phase where a detailed design of the system is produced followed by reviews of the design. The customers are to be involved at this stage so that they can have an early view of the product as their feedback would be very valuable. The firm will also be able to monitor the costs of the system (Kossiakoff et al., p.80). The other issues which will be important at this stage include; producibility, reliability and the maintainability of the system. When this is done the problems such as incompatibility with the hardware, wrong results for the hairstyles will be avoided. A full scale prototype of the system as it will be must be made. Finally, there is integration and evaluation where the whole system is evaluated in a realistic environment. The system must be taken through a stress test which will involve the simulation of the various constraints and stimuli so that the responsiveness of the system can be determined. Post development phase This will involve the activities that will be required so that both small and large quantities of the system can be produced. The production should however begin at a low rate so that the project developer can be able to verify and validate whether all the production documentation were adhered to. This will ensure that all the defects are eliminated thus a non-repeat of the problems that were experienced at the Top cuts Competitors. After this, all the subsequent systems must be inspected, verified against the requirement and the performance specifications followed by a robust user support system. The user activities must be carried out at this stage for instance; training of the users of the system so that thy can understand how the new system works. This was a main problem at the competitors of the firm as they were not able to work with the system due to no training. There should be a general monitoring so that the capabilities and the performance of the system can be enhanced especially in line with the organizational goals. These system upgrades are known as incremental builds and are very important for the functioning of the system (Wasson, p. 62). The system then grows until it reaches the point of maturity called Full Operational Capability (FOC) where it is able to carry out the various functions that it was created for without any significant strains or down times (Wasson, p. 62). At this level, there will be no problems such as those related to the functionality of the system as those which were experienced in the firm which implemented the system of hairdressing which the Top Cuts seeks to implement. Conclusion Top Cuts can only be able to reap the fruits of the new technology and the new system if they are able to develop their system according to the specifications which are contained in the system development cycle. This cycle is important as when a firm follows it, they will be able to not only decipher the various problems that the firm is having with their current system, they will also be able to clearly articulate the various system requirement and specifications which will be important for the achievement of the various goals. There are also elements of the costs of the project to the firm and thus they will know with certainty the amount of capital they will have o inject so that they can be able to maintain the system. This is usually undertaken through the user reviews which are carried out. The customers of the firm will be able to give the firm various feedbacks regarding the usefulness of the system and make changes which will be important for the design of the system. The issue of the training of the users will also be important as this was clearly brought to the fore following the failure of the system that was hurried assembled by the competitor of Top Cuts. Works cited Donaldson, John and Jenkins, John, "Systems Failures: An approach to understanding what can go wrong", Proceedings of the European Software Day of EuroMicr'00, p. 1-11, 2000 Kossiakoff, Alexander; Sweet, William N.; Seymour, Sam and Biemer, Steven M., Systems engineering: principles and practice, Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Interscience, 2011 Wasson, Charles S., System analysis, design, and development: concepts, principles, and practices, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Interscience, 2006