BSBCUE301 – Access a Range of Information Systems Copy
Element 1: Access a Range of Information Systems
Performance Criteria Element 1
1.1 Efficiently log on to information systems
1.2 Navigate screens efficiently to locate displays and information relevant to role
1.3 Use a database management system (DBMS) to control data access, enforce data integrity, manage concurrency, and access information
1.4 Manage use of information systems efficiently according to organisational requirements.
Access a Range of Information Systems
Efficiently log on to information systems
Information systems (IS) are the pieces of hardware and software that are used to collect, organise, process, and distribute data. Essentially, information systems exist so that information can be shared between different hardware, software and users in network. The most common IS will be investigated next.
Information can be gained from a broad range of sources. Where your information comes from will depend on your industry and organisational requirements along with the requirements of your job role. There are many systems used to record this information.
• Billing Systems
Billing systems are programs which are used to:
○ Create invoices (accounts receivable)
○ Store payment information such as banking details, payments made, payments due
○ Client/customer and supplier details
○ In telephone companies, billing systems are used to collect information about telephone calls
○ With the advent of technology, more companies are introducing electronic billing options to their customers which allows bills to be paid through Internet banking, e.g. BPay, direct debit, payment with credit card, and electronic fund transfers (EFT).
Databases exist in all companies in one form or another. Databases can contain a variety of information. A company may have an email database, a database containing each customer and their details. Databases may even exist for past clients. The types of databases a company keeps are all dependent on the nature of their business and what types of information they need to keep.
Database management systems (DBMS) are software that are used to collect, maintain, and administer databases. Examples of DBMS include Microsoft Access, Oracle, and SAP.
The fastest way to share information nowadays is with the internet. The internet can be accessed with computers, tablets and smartphones with internet connectivity (either wired, wireless or through a mobile connection). Recent years have seen the development of the Cloud. Essentially, the Cloud allows users to access and store information from anywhere, with any device, as long as the correct software is installed and the user has an internet connection. A few examples include Dropbox, SugarSync, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
Applications such as Dropbox can be installed on computers, smartphones, and tablets. With the correct login details, users are then able to access the information they have stored on the application.
Intranet systems are private systems, only accessible by employees hired by an organisation. Intranet systems are useful in that information can be shared between particular work teams and with the organisation as a whole. Some Intranet systems have forums available, allowing work-related conversations to be held. Using these forums can help employees with their work, especially when it comes to finding solutions to problems others have encountered.
For management, it is an easy and cost-effective tool that can be used to communicate mass messages to their employees. Protocols, policies, and procedures can also be made available on Intranet systems, hence making it easier for employees to know where they can access important information.
• Telephone Systems
Some companies have a system where by not all employees work at the office every single day. Most of the time they work externally, they either work from home, or at a client’s premises. Customer contact centres such as call centres have a large number of little work cubicles. Shift work is most probably the system on which a call centre would work, this means it would be too expensive for the organisation to invest in a work cubicle for each of their employees. As a result, each employee is not assigned a workstation. Rather each workstation is equipped with the same basic set-up: chair, computer, stationary, and VOIP phone.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. In short, these systems allow for communication over the Internet. In terms of the workstations described above, the VOIP phones are set up in a way that allows each employee who sits at the desk to log into the phone system by entering an assigned code when they begin their shift and then the network identifies that phone as belonging to a particular individual. At the end of their shift or work day, employees are then expected to log off the VOIP phone, thus allowing the system is ready for the employee who next chooses to use that workstation.
Log On to Information Systems
Now that some of the familiar IS systems have been highlighted, the next step is to understand how a user logs onto them. The process of logging into a device or a program involves entering a username and a password (both of which are specific to each user). Once the username and password match what is in the system, they are logged in and given access to whatever it is they need. In your own experience, you’ve likely done some internet banking, which requires you to login using your account/client number and a password/pin before you can access your money.
When making a password, keep in mind:
○ use good passwords—the best passwords are alphanumeric, have at least six to eight characters and do not hold a relationship to the user or contact centre
○ change passwords regularly
○ refrain from writing your username and password on your computer or in an easy to access place
○ refrain from giving out your username and password to staff or customers
• Complying with Information Technology Security Protocols
If login details are required to access certain information, it usually means there is sensitive or confidential information on the system. If this information isn’t secured behind a login, anyone can access this information and potentially use it for nefarious purposes. Login details are usually a username/email and a password.
• Logging into Telephone System
As described previously, VOIP telephone systems are created in a way that allow for users to log in and log out at their convenience. Logging in can be done with an access code. The image below shows what a VOIP phone can look like and it is on the display area that users can enter in their access code by following the prompts:
• Opening Most Frequently Used Applications
The most used application in an organisation depends on the type of organisation. In a customer contact environment, applications such as the Intranet, information databases, word documents, and spread sheet documents could be the most frequently used applications.
On most desktops (the main screen that a user will see once a computer starts up) there may be application shortcuts, which will have a little blue arrow on it indicating that it is a shortcut and the user simply needs to click on the icon and the application will open:
Another method to open frequently used applications is to go to the start button (bottom left hand corner), and click on it. A list of the most frequently accessed application will appear. From there, users simply click on the application/s that they require.
• Turning on Computer Equipment
Computer equipment, once plugged in and switched on at the power point, is turned on by pressing the power button found on the front of the computer. Computer screens/monitors also have a button which needs to be pressed in order for the screen to turn on.
• Username and Password to Access Information Systems
Usernames and passwords, as mentioned earlier, are specific to each employee. One of the reasons why these login details are required is that this information is confidential and governed by Privacy acts. Employees do not have full access to all information stored on the system. Access to certain information is restricted to upper management or to employees whose job involves access to this information.
Some things to remember for usernames and passwords:
○ Never share these two pieces of information with any of your colleagues
○ Try and memorise them, then discard the paper on which they were written on
○ Change your password every few months.
Navigate Screens Efficiently to Locate Displays and Information Relevant to Role
As the work day progresses and employees carry out their work tasks, they may begin opening many applications which are all relevant to their work. They will use them interchangeably and more than one program may need to be used for completing a single job task.
The easiest way to navigate to the different windows or apps is from the computer’s taskbar. The taskbar is the long bar found at the bottom of the screen which often has a variety of window or app icons, depending on what windows or apps are open and whether the user has pinned frequently used app icons to the taskbar. The user just needs to click on the window or app icon to open it. The window or app icon, provided it isn’t pinned, will sit on the taskbar until closed.
Once in the application or program, the user navigates the screen by using the scroll bar (or mouse wheel) on the right side of the screen, to move the page up and down, or side-to-side. Applications usually have a toolbox available which allow different actions and processes to be carried out.
If you are unable to navigate multiple screens, windows and interfaces you might:
○ take a long time to deal with customer enquiries
○ not be using the information system to its fullest advantage
○ not be able to deal with a customer’s enquiries in a single phone call
○ not deliver an efficient and satisfying service to your customer
○ not be able to provide a one-stop service avoiding unnecessary transfers and call backs into the contact centre
○ not be able to check data inputs with the customer directly, to ensure accuracy
○ not have access to information about products, services and warranties when discussing transactions, faults and general customer enquiries
○ not manage disputes and complaints and resolve as quickly as possible
Use a Database Management System (DBMS) to Control Data Access, Enforce Data Integrity, Manage Concurrency, and Access Information
DBMS’s are handy applications to have in an organisation. They make the control of and access to information a much easier process in the organisation. There are several types of DBMS’s which differ in terms of how data is presented, who can access information and how concurrent the information remains. The four main types of DBMS will be explored in further detail below.
Database Management Systems (DBMS)
While Excel can be used to store and manage large amounts of data, it is better suited to in-depth data analysis, formulas, calculations and representing data graphically using charts. Database management systems such as Access are suitable for grouping and relating data and providing multiple user access, whilst maintaining the integrity of the data.
• Hierarchical Database
This database has a pyramid shape to it and levels have a parent – child relationship. There is a direct relationship between any records that are stored consecutively. Thus related records are essentially grouped together and since it is hierarchical structure, the higher level records will sit above the other level records.
The record at the top of the pyramid is called the root record, as it is from this record that the levels below it grow. The root record can have many child records, stemming from it, but each child is linked to only one parent. A child record may also act as a parent record when there are records below the child record.
This system is the first type of database system that was created and used. It has a few advantages linked to it in that:
○ They are easy to access and update as the relationship between the levels are pre-defined
○ It is a simple process of locating necessary information once the user starts from the parent cell and works downwards.
The disadvantages linked to this system include:
○ It is very rigid so where new fields need to be included, the entire database needs to be redesigned
○ Relationships between the children cells are not allowed, even when in some instances it would be easier if there were.
• Network Database
As the name suggests, this database is made up of networks, and these networks are interconnected. Parents are called owners and children are called members. Unlike the hierarchical database, the children in the network database can have more than one parent (as demonstrated in the diagram).
Advantages linked to this database include:
○ The interconnected nature of the database allows for ease of access to information
○ Data is said to be easier to keep concurrent with this database
○ As this system is defined by the need of a member and an owner, thus leading to data integrity there is a reliance on the member – owner relationship.
Some disadvantages include:
○ A limit to the amount of connections that can be made between records
○ The design needs to be pre-designed before data can be put in and the connections between members and owners needs to be clearly stated.
• Relational Databases
Both hierarchical and network databases are based on a top down system, where by a user will need to start at the top and work their way down to find the required information. Relational databases work on the premise that there is a particular set of data which is used to connect data in different files. These databases are made up of tables and each table will have that particular set of data which will help the user find the required information. For example, the Australian Tax Office may employ a system where by data relating to clients can be identified using their Tax File Number (TFN). One table may contain the address and contact details of the person related to a particular TFN. The next table may contain the name of the individual connected to the TFN and another table could show what years that TFN holder has lodged a tax return and so on and so forth.
The advantages of the relational database include:
○ An ease of access of information
○ Correlation of data in the different tables, hence adding to data integrity
○ As this database does not require a restructure of design, database entries can be altered without much complication.
Some disadvantages are:
○ Due to the expansive nature of the databases, information retrieval can sometimes be quite time consuming.
• Object-Directed Databases
These databases are becoming popular due to their ability to handle and store new types of data such as graphics, images, videos, as well as audio. This type of database has the ability to produce information in a multimedia format.
Manage Use of Information Systems Efficiently According to Organisational Requirements
Bookmarks are a function of web browsers that allow the user create a shortcut to a favourite or frequently used website.
Bookmark functions allow users to create folders to help with the organisation of a user’s bookmarks, especially where a user regularly bookmarks pages. This is a handy tool to use as it allows for the efficient storage and easy access to web pages that are used on a regular basis.
• Decision Support System (DSS)
A DSS is a system that supports decision-making activities. Departments such as management, operations, and planning and coordination would use a DDS to help them in making decisions. These systems are designed in a way that allows a variety of information to be entered and then used in generating decision-making information. Raw data, reports, numerical information, research information, personal input, as well as already created documents.
This data is then used to create graphs which can highlight information such as:
○ Changing sales forecast between financial years
○ Estimated revenues over a certain period of time
○ Alternative decision possibilities.
A DSS would be employed by an organisation because:
○ It is easy to use and is interactive
○ A variety of data sources can be integrated in order for the system to give the best result
○ The system quite efficiently carries out an analysis of given data
○ Managerial processes are, to a certain degree, automated
○ These systems can actually help a company keep up with competition as possible decisions are generated faster by the DDS
○ The DDS can lead to new ways of thinking once users see the results generated, hence helping users think differently about any problem they are facing.
• Office Automation System
In its simplest form, an office automation system essentially refers to a computer system which allows the collection, preparation, storage, and sharing of information. A local area network (LAN) is used in organisations as it is this network which allows for computers and other pieces of machinery, such as printers, telephone systems, and fax machines to become interconnected, thus allowing information to be shared between them.
With the way that technology has developed in recent years there are now several ways in which office automation systems can be integrated into modern business or work environments. These integrations have been adopted by organisations due to the productivity advantages linked to them. Examples of the various systems include word processing programs, email, newsgroups, data conferencing, video conferencing, calendars, and collaboration boards.
• Transaction Processing System
A transaction processing system (TPS) is a system that is designed to collect and store data relating to transactions. Transactions can include making a payment, withdrawing money from an ATM, ordering a product or service.
Two types of transaction processing systems exist:
○ Batch Transaction Processing
These transactions are not processed immediately. The items or jobs that need processing are batched up and at a particular point they are then processed. Take for example some banking institutes, they require customers to submit payments or fund transfers by 4pm of the working day, so that they can process a whole batch of payments and transfers one time during the night. However, some banks have introduced immediate processing of payments and transfers which are processed as soon as the customer verifies and submits the transactions.
○ Real Time Transaction Processing
These transactions happen instantaneously. Examples of these types of transactions include paying cash for a product of service, record-keeping processes, or withdrawing money from an ATM.
• An organisation will have a variety of information systems, each being used for particular tasks.
• Database management system is a very handy application to use for storing large quantities of information.
• Information systems come equipped with tools which allow them to be managed.