The student applications use the Transaction Processing System (TPS). This is used to record data at the point where business interacts with others, in this case the students. The data recorded by the TPS is then fed into other systems, turning it into usable information. The SAS manages the applications process. The Student Application website is used to record the data of new student applicants like their student name, date of birth, address, contact numbers, email, parental details, yearly income, number of siblings, school name and address, bond details, etc. This data is then processed with the Funds Allocation system (described later), to generate the usable information like a list of successful applicants.
Previously, Ed Transformers had parents fill out hard copy forms which were sent in. This created problematic data entries as the information in the forms were not always completed and occasionally inaccurate. Ed Transformers now uses an online form which can only be submitted when all mandatory fields are filled in. Before there were also issues when staff entered inaccurate information into the excel spreadsheets, making it illegible. With the introduction of IT, these forms can be filled in automatically from the application forms with specialized software, and drop down lists are now utilized to ensure that the information that is recorded is accurate.
Another major problem is previously the selection process was done manually which took a long time to process. IT has improved this system by taking the information from the SAS and combining it with the FAS – as mentioned earlier – to automatically generate a list of successful applicants. There are various factors that apply to the quality characteristic of this information. In this report, the accuracy, completeness, uniqueness, timeliness will be the key factors mentioned and discussed.
The information in the Student Application system has very accurate information (as accurate as it can be). It can only be as accurate as the student determines it to be as they can lie in the forms. The student could have lied about their address or income etc. This can be partially combated with the implementation of an IT system that compares the address in the application for instance to a government database of addresses to see if the information is the same. Otherwise Ed Transformers are very detailed in the analysis of their applicants as they require information as illustrated in the second paragraph of 2.2.1). They changed from a manual form to an on-line one so that accidental mistakes are no longer, and spreadsheets are no longer manual but done automatically and through drop down lists, all to ensure as accurate information quality as possible.
Completeness is also a very important quality factor in the recording of information. It ensures all the required information is filled in and not missing. This factor is easily implemented by Ed Transformers. Before the information in the forms of the Student Applications were not fully filled out in the manual system. But, with the implementation of the on-line forms, they cannot be submitted until all the required sections are filled in. This ensures virtually 100% completeness and as accurate a representation of each student as possible.
With regard to uniqueness, this factor states that every transaction and all other information is recorded or represented only once. This is where the disadvantage of the company’s divisional structure comes into account. Each divisional project has an IT team. Nevertheless, this IT team interacts very limitedly with each project. This creates many redundancies within the entity, and some students could have been entered through the SAS more than once, inducing backlogs with the other students.
Lastly, timeliness is factor that Ed Transformers has gotten partially correct. It refers to all the information of the organization being current with reference to their requirements. Their information is generally correct and up to date. It would take a few days to post a hard copy of an application form, but with online forms, submission is instantaneous. Previously, the company lost a vast amount of time processing all the forms manually, taking two terms to make a payment. Recently, the day after the application cut-off date, a list of successful applicants is automatically produced at a push of a button, and payments are made within a few days. The website however is often not running due to technical problems, and therefore cannot always be accessed, decreasing the entity’s timeliness.
When these factors improve, so does the quality of information. When the information quality increases, the entity’s efficiency and effectiveness develops further. The Student Application system can be described in terms of the information systems activities outlined under inputs, processing, storage, outputs and control, and information system resources identified under people, software, data, hardware and network resources (2009, pp. 31-33). The inputs of this system are the data collected from the online application forms. This ranges from the student names and addresses to income and mortgage details. This information was inputted via a keyboard, mouse and/or touch screen. People, software, hardware and network resources are used for this activity.
The information is then processed with the preliminary allocation of places to schools from the Funds Allocation system via computers, servers, verification programs and financial/asset checks. Software, data and hardware resources are mostly required to perform this information activity. Storage is used to amass the information of all the accepted students, from application forms to qualification evidence. Data, hardware and network resources are used for storage. The information is stored in databases, servers, or hard copy (if space permitting) for a year until new and existing students re-apply for the scheme next year (2009, p. 4).
The output of these processes is a generated list of successful candidates for the 3 main projects. These are displayed electronically through monitors, and through paper copies. Notifications are then sent to the student applicants informing them if they have or have not been accepted into the program and an explanation is provided if the applicant is not successful. Payments and notifications are then made to the schools for each child etc, which falls to the Fund Allocation system. People, hardware and of course network resources are utilized in the operations of this information activity.
In Ed Transformers, controls used to be implemented manually, but are now done via software applications. Entering data into or changing the system requires verification and validation. To log onto the system, a user name and password will be required. This information system activity also checks on part availability and compatibility (2009, p. 4), and error logs are reported and preserved, like if students receive the wrong letter, etc. The control system also verifies that the Student Application system is working correctly, and authenticates date as it is entered ensuring all the fields have the correct type of data in the valid areas (2009, p. 35). This is where software, data, hardware, network, and even human resources come together to control the entire activities of the Student Application System for Ed Transformers.