The first task in developing a system is to define what the project is to do and how it is going to do it. The definition includes not only the function of the system but also how it integrates into the organization.

2.1 Components of Situation Analysis

The planning process starts with the analysis of the situation that the system will be functioning in. The situation consists not only of the present conditions but those that are expected to develop over time. The purpose of the situation analysis is to identify those issues that will influence the likelihood that that system once developed will be used successfully by the organization for a reasonable period of time.

The situation analysis must eventually focused on the specific functions that the system will be designed to perform. However, the expectations are likely to change. Therefore, the initial perspective for the situation analysis should be first the total organization and then proceed to narrow the focus to the particular set of problems.

2.1.1 Vision

An understanding of the long-range visions for automation of the organizational functions is necessary to propose any system. These visions are expected to contain many wishful elements. Surprisingly to many clients, some of the elements perceived to be most wishful are often tractable, while some of the seemly less wishful ideas can be extremely difficult and costly to implement. The analyst should keep in mind that there might be multiple and conflicting visions. The design of the system should consider these multiple visions as future possibilities. They should allow as many of these possible future scenarios to evolve smoothly.

2.1.2 Mission and Purpose

The overall purpose or mission of the organization needs to be defined. This is not merely the function of the system under investigation but includes the overall mission of the organizational unit and the organization as a whole. The objective for developing the system should follow from the needs of the organization. A clear check on the connection between the two is needed.

2.1.3 Clientship

The clients for the project should include: (1) sources of organizational and functional information, (2) those empowered to authorize the project of are sponsors for the project, (3) those knowledgeable on the use of the system, and (4) end-users. There are other people who are likely to be involved in the project, however, they should not be viewed as clients.

2.1.4 Politics

Politics can be viewed as "the art or science concerned with winning and holding power". No project is immune to the influence of political issues. These issues usually manifest themselves as reasonable concerns regarding the development and implementation of the system. These should be view as real human issues. It is the purpose of the development strategy to try to reduce those concerns.

2.2 Program Plans

There is traditionally a hierarchy of planning actions. First is the statement of objectives; followed by the development of a strategy; then a detailed plan of action; and finally a description of the final implementation.

2.2.1 System Objectives

The system objectives are a list of the purposes for which the system is being developed. The objectives should include not only action but also the reasons and potential pay- off for the effort. The pay-off should be described qualitatively. Detailed quantitative cost/benefit analysis is usually not included with the objectives. System Scope

The objectives often imply developments beyond the scope of the present project. The purpose of defining the scope is to clarify the limits of the system. For the most part, the client usually understands these limits. The exercise of compiling a scope of the project is to clarify that the limits are fully understood between the client and the developer.

2.2.2 Strategy

The strategy describes the route of development. It is often a philosophical statement of approach or paradigm for the project. These strategies would include prototyping or specifying approaches. The identification of lines of authority and, if desired the formation of an oversight organization.

2.2.3 Plans

The project plan follows the strategy. It is a detailed description of the activities that will be conducted and the identification and timing of deliverables. The major focus of the formation of plans is timing and the allocation of resources. Action Elements

The action elements are the specific activities that will be undertaken. These elements should be specific with a known starting point and end. Action elements for the plan are often more detailed than that used in the control documents. They usually include administrative, education, preparation activities as well as the project specific requirements. Resources

Action elements should be undertaken by a single group of resources. These are specific resources, usually individuals. Fund requirements are usually handled separately and included in the control documents. Alternative resources are often included in the plan. These alternative resources are not usually included in the operational control documents. Timing

The required time for completion must be considered. These time constraints include all types of deadlines. Hard Deadlines

Hard deadlines are closing dates that are inflexible due to external requirements. These include product release dates, major meetings, or regulatory requirements such as tax filings.

In order to assure meeting a hard deadline, usually, a series of soft deadlines are imposed. Soft Agreed-to Deadlines

Agreed-to soft deadlines are completion dates that are set with the client. Failure to meet these datelines may result in a penalty. At best, the client is likely to be disappointed. Soft Internal Deadlines

Deadlines may be set by the program developer without the knowledge of the client. These deadlines or estimate dates of completion are used for control purposes.

2.2.4 Implementation

Since implementation usually involves resources beyond the scope of the project, it should be planned separately. However, the implementation activities should also be included in the general program plan. The implementation plan initially is merely a description of action elements. As the project develops the implementation plan should include specific dates and resources required. Note that the resources need to include the personnel that will use the system.