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User:Chotchki/F2005/Systems Analysis and Design

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virolchiricr

This is a semester group project for the 2005 Fall, Systems Analysis and Design Class. The group members are Daniel Burt, Micheal Cardona, Christopher Hotchkiss, Arun Ralph, and Andrew Smith.

Continuous Project Deliverables

Please see the syllabus for the definitions of each section.

Memorandum

Feasibility Analysis (Hard Due 26 OCT 2005)

Operational

Technical/Economic

The origional design was for the new system to support remote reading via some form of wireless. However after investigating the cost of implementing the system, we came to an unfortunate conclusion. It is far more cost effective to retain an employee to continue reading meters rather than to fully automate the system.

A second issue that is also closely related to the first is the lack of idividuals with a high tech background. So our recommendation is for the system to be entirely web based to cut down on the amount of knowledge required to operate the system.

This can be accomplished on the side of the meter reader by having them carry a device such as a wireless pda. For example using Cingular as a vendor and palmOne Treo 650 PDA they can purchase all reading hardware for $450. However their monthly cost on this will be $45 plus tax for the service. This is much simplier than the estimated $500+ per address cost of rolling out a full automated solution.

As far as the servers required to run the system are concerned a basic web/database server is all that is needed. A low-end server from dell with the appropiate backup hardware will run about $1800. If a LAMP (linux, apache, mysql, php) based website is created for the system, ongoing maintance will be minimal and software costs will be essentially zero. Conversly if a Microsoft solution is chosen the cost will rise by $800 plus the need for a system administrator to keep it patched and mange the system.

Schedule

There seems to be no set timeline for the implementation of the system so this design phase should not compromise the effectiveness of the business. However since the design phase has taken approxiamately 4 months to complete it is not unresonable to assume it will take another 8 months to fully implement the system if accecpted according to the proposal.

Legal / Contractual

Political

Summary of 'opportunities' (Hard Due 26 OCT 2005)

There are a variety of benifits that can accumulate from the implementation of a fully intergrated Information System. First the accuracy of the readings will go up because the reading will only pass one set of people. Also the cost of the reading and processing in the system will drop over time. Since the mayor is also the meter reader, he will be the only one responsible for the readings, filing, and billing. This is how the cost will damattically be reduced. The mayor also stated that he is interested in sending out the bill on postcards instead of envelopes. With the system we proposing the mayor can print out the billing postcards (6 inches by 4 1/4) with a note to each individual if needed, and this will lower the cost of mailing the bills to the customers. We checked with the post office for prices and the cost for sending out postcards this size are only $.23 each. This will be a savings of $438.48 per year in billing alone. The reduction of people being paid to keep the current system runnuing will also be a dramatic savings over time. We believe that the hardware and software will pay for itself in only one year with the saving our system will create. The only limitation to this system will be that the mayor is the only one doing the system process, however since the system is so easy to use, even if the mayor is unable to perform the task of meter reader, someone else could easily run the system.

Interview Plan (Hard Due 26 OCT 2005)

From reading the case study and considering the size and location of the town, it would probably be best to loosely follow the below questions.

To a meter reader

  • How do you exactly take a reading on a customer's home?
    • It depends on how close the houses are. If they are close together I will park my vehicle and walk the row of houses and read the meter, otherwise I will drive to each home get out and read the meter. In either case I get to the home and find the meter. Once I do that I record the number on it as well as its serial number. After doing so I move to the next home. For businesses because they tend to have their meters inside, I must ask permission from the manager to go indside and do the reading.
  • How do you record the reading and any conclusions you have from the visit?
    • I simply write the reading onto a clipboard along with the serial number. If there is anything special to note I will simply write it in the margin.
  • Who and where do you send the information?
    • My completed sheets are dropped off to City Hall so that the clerk can then calculate the usage and the billing.
  • Do you have any complaints about the current system?
    • It is very time intensive and can be inaccurate. Also if I miss a home there is no way to tell until the clerk does the calculations.
  • Is there anything we can do to make the system better for you?
    • Making it easier to record the usage and relay notes forward every week would be highly desirerable.

To the clerk

  • How do you determine to amount of water used in the past month?
    • The amount of water used is calculated by taking the water reading from the previous month and subtracting the current month's usage from it.
  • How is the information passed to you and how is it passed from you?
    • The meter reader drop his sheets off to me when he is done reading all the meters. I then prepared the statements by hand and then drop them off to the mayor so he can mail them and deliver them.
  • Could you walk us through how you calculate the accounts and prepare the invoices?
    • I walk over to a set of filing cabinets and remove a drawer's worth of accounts. Next I write up a statement corresponding to the first account. AFter that I go through the paper work and find last month's and this month's paperwork. I record the difference between the two months and finish recording everything. Finally I put away the account's paperwork and move onto the next one.
  • Do any parts of these steps cause a large amount of stress/hassle for you?
    • The endless repition gets old very quickly, I know it every time that a new family moves in because my job takes longer.
  • How would you like using an automated system to do your job?
    • That would make my job a lot easier and would free me up to catch up on other stuff.
  • What would make your job easier?
    • That automated system you mentioned would be nice, also not having to track down where the customer actually sent their money would be nice as well.

To the mayor

  • What is your current impression of the water billing system?
    • It suits our needs.
  • Does the current billing system consume a large amount of resources in the budget?
    • Not really. It is affordable.
  • How would you like to change the system?
    • A computerized system would definately be a plus.
  • Would the company like to allow customers to view and edit their information?
    • Sure, that sounds pretty neat.
  • Would the company like to have web based billing/payment system?
    • Wow, a web based system? That sounds like something we could use.
  • Do you have the knowledge and expertise to maintain a fully custom built system?
    • No, but I'm willing to learn.

To the bank

  • Are there any fees charged for the collection of the accounts?
    • There is no direct fee for the customer, however there is a service charge billed directly to the Water Utility company for processing payments.
  • How long does the processing usually take?
    • Once the payment is directly made to the bank it takes 2-3 business days to post to the collection account.
  • Does your bank have any existing Information Systems to tie a future system into?
    • Yes the information is added to a spreadsheet after being posted to the collection account. The spreadsheet has the customer's informaiton and payments made.
  • How far from city hall is the bank?
    • The city hall is a little over a block away from the bank.
  • Would the bank be willing to host a new billing system in their IS department?
    • Yes the system would make the billing quicker and make paying easier.
  • If so how much would it cost?
    • the cost would be relatively small considering that our IS department is already established.

To a local citizen/client

  • Are you happy with the water system, inparticular the billing system?
    • It's worked all these years, but it tends to be a real hassle. I would love to see some change.
  • Is your bill always correct?
    • I would say no, but I don't know this for a fact. All I know is that sometimes I feel like I am paying more than I should.
  • Do you notice when the meter is read?
    • Every single time, because when they come they always disturb the dog and I have to go out and calm him down.
  • Have you had any problems with the meter readers?
    • Yes, they always complain about my dog. They say I should have him on a leash, but why would I put him on a leash when he is in my own yard?
  • Would you mind paying a little extra a month in exchange for a full automated meter reading?
    • If it is reasonable.
  • Do you have internet access?
    • Yes.
  • Do you feel comfortable buy stuff and/or paying bills online?
    • I have never really done it before, but how hard could it be.
  • If the water system allowed you to pay your bill online would you use it?
    • Yes.
  • If you also got a discount for paying the bill online would you use it?
    • Of course I would.

Decomposition Diagram

Data Flow Diagrams (Hard Due 26 OCT 2005)

Hiearchy

Data Repository definitions

Entity Relationship Diagram (Hard Due 26 OCT 2005)

SysDesignERD1.png

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