It’s generally agreed that detailed system analysis and study of the subject area is the main requirement for a successful implementation of a project in information technologies area. From this point it’s important to predict and plan in details the project long before the phase of implementation and code design. Mistakes, which are often made on the phase of project design are much easy to be corrected than those which come out when the product is tested and debugged on the final stage.
One of the most popular and widely spread approaches that are used developing systems for IT is System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) which consists of seven phases: project initiation and planning, analysis, logical design, physical design, implementation and maintenance. All these seven phases will be discussed in systems development plan of our jewelry store.
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Project Initiation and Planning
First of all it’s important to set the budget for the project, to calculate the expenses needed for design of the store IT system with online access for customers. Also it’s important to calculate expenses on promotional campaign on internet and its possible impact on sales. It’s one of the most important stages of the project as the project manager should know all risks and weak points of the project. Another vital aspect is financial benefit from introduction of a web based platform for jewelry store, whether such innovation will generate extra profits. If IT system of the store doesn’t create a positive impact on sales and on customers’ growth then implementation of such project is pointless.
After project manager had calculated financial risks it’s important to develop the concept of how the project will be realized. At this point it’s important to develop a clear doable schedule which will show the time period needed for implementation of all seven phases. Project manager should have a clear idea about the potential of the design team, their abilities and equipment (both hardware and software tools), which will be needed both for design and tests. At this point it’s also important to include the possibility of certain kind of emergency situations of technical character into the project’s schedule, so that the team has a reserve time in case of unpredicted situations.
After manager has a clear schedule and plan of the IT system project, it’s important to make an analysis of the subject area for the software product. First of all it includes analysis of all business activities of the jewelry store, analysis of relations with customers, analysis of data processing (sales, accounting, relations with suppliers, etc). Project manager needs to draw a clear chain of relations and build visual diagrams which will make all business processes clear and understandable for further development of informational system of a jewelry store. Relational diagrams will be very helpful in further development of a functional information system and what is more important, they will reduce time for debugging and testing as they provide a clear model of architecture for IT system of a jewelry store.
After the work with model of business processes in the jewelry store is completed (in the form of diagrams, algorithms, etc.) project manager should decide how the software product will look like: a spreadsheet database software product with network features, a database with web interface or an online store. The complete project may also combine internet shop interface and a database product which will use the same server and data storage. Such feature will create integration, it will also reduce operations for data processing, as all data and all accounting operations will have integrated identification.
Logical design phase is a continuation of subject area study in order to create a logical model of the online store database and information system and in order to model informational interaction of customers and managers, model data processes, etc. There are lots of different software tools which allow to visualize business and informational processes for different business types. In order to build a business model for sales it’s better to use BPWIN software (or AllFussion Process software). After the scheme of relations between customer and manager is modeled, it’s easy to describe all processes and operations which will be required in running successful online jewelry store. Such supplementary processes may include development of a automatized pricing policy system which will change prices during discount season, offering different discounts for different types of items (depending upon their price, popularity, etc.), offering different discounts for permanent customers, etc. Also one of the most important steps in developing logical design is providing a clear view on the security system of the online store and data protection from unauthorized access. It includes development of special algorithms which will block users according to security rules, etc. It also includes the search for the most optimal software design realization such as development of independent server section which will use only it’s own algorithms and will be deprived of the possibility to be accessed from the outside using web attack methods, etc.
In addition, main database of the IT system should be compatible with other software products used for data processing and sales in the jewelry store, otherwise, it would require more time for store workers to get used to a new software. Database should be compatible with the most used spreadsheets solutions such as Microsoft Excel, database management and administration tools such as Microsoft Access, etc.
Physical Design and Implementation
Physical design mainly includes database management system design which is then supplemented by interface features, communication tools, security features for data protection, etc. In order to develop database management system it’s impotent to multifunctional low level programming languages such as C++ or Delphi, as they allow to design the whole product, making it fully integrated and protected, which can not be achieved using other programming languages which allow only to link components and add features to existing program modules. Independent database platform designed using such language as C++ or Delphi allows IT solution to function independently and doesn’t require additional load on server, in addition it makes hosting procedure much easier as hosting provider won’t need to provide SQL , email or other features. All those features can be designed independently, so that a platform will function without any support from outside, which makes it stable for web attacks and creates higher level of data protection.
Web interface can be developed as a separate program module which will serve as linking chain between database and client’s internet browser. Such programming languages as C++ or Delphi support internet features and have special components which allow building independent internet server application for remote work with databases, etc. In Delphi 6, this unit is called TserverSocket which sends commands and waits for their execution on socket.
User interface of the informational system should be functional and visual; it should contain all necessary features for viewing products, online-surfing on the web site of jewelry store and should also have an understandable order processing dialogue section, comfortable for making quick orders. It should also contain decision support components which will make navigation easier and will assist in choosing the most appropriate luxury items (by popularity, prices, discount, etc.).
Manager’s and administrator’s interface should include features for adding new products, changing prices, communication features, accounting features and sales processing features. In addition admin’s and manager’s interface should include integrated payment solutions for automatized payment processing.
Implementation and maintenance
Implementation and maintenance phase of the project include complete design of software product, code design, web design for online store section and debugging of the whole system module. It’s very important to keep to the core business relational model which describes all business processes between customer’s and sales managers, otherwise IT business solution will lack functionality and will only slow down the process of making and processing new orders.
Before complete solution is hosted on web, it’s very important to test program on local server, check functionally and integrity of all parts of the software product, check functionality of interaction with database and functionality of electronic payment processing. It’s also important to devote a considerable amount of time for testing; otherwise program bugs may come out when online store will be in working mode.
It’s very important to devote a special role to planning and projecting of big multifunctional information systems with online interface and design making support. Informational system for an online store is one of such systems as it requires features for accounting, data and order processing, payment processing and customer support on an integrated platform.—————————————————————————–
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