Management Systems Essay

Question 1

Provide two examples of where customization of business software would make more sense than purchasing an off-the-shelf product. What are the benefits? What added costs are involved with creating and maintaining customized software? What are the risks?

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Question 2

Consider the advancements in computing that have happened in your lifetime. What are the most important advancements in personal computing hardware, in your opinion? How have advancements in PC capabilities allowed information systems to improve?

            Examples of businesses that custom software would make more sense in are mortgage loan companies and regional tax offices of a city or county.  In both cases this assumes that people can complete forms and information online.  What the mortgage company would want to accomplish is making their website look and act differently from other competitors.  Since mortgage companies obtain credit, income, and personal information from customers a shelf product would make it easy for anyone who knows how to navigate through the product to access and steal information by simply knowing a password.  A customized product would require full knowledge of the product.  Also, customization can accommodate limits on who can access what information by limiting knowledge of how to use certain modules to secured personnel.  In the case of a tax authority, software would be customized to match they type of forms that are used.  Also customization would be required to link information into the city or county general accounting system.  This needs to be more secure and not accessible to anyone in a software technical service department.  Most of the added cost for customized software is in maintenance.  Most boxed software comes with manufacturer’s technical support.  Custom software requires an ongoing relationship with a consultant to maintain and upgrade the system.  This provides another benefit – for the additional costs upgrades can be done on demand and the company does not have to wait for the next version to come out.

            The main risk in buying customized software is that the developers may find a way to turn an originally customized system into a mass produced system.  Even if the company agrees to a proprietary system and receives compensation, they lose the security and competitive edge that customization provides.  The other risk is how to manage the developer’s knowledge.  What if the individual developer leaves the company with a non-compete agreement?  The company may risk a breach of contract to do business with that developer through another company.  Or, the company may get another less skilled or knowledgeable developer.

            The most important advancements have been in audio and visual communication devices.  The addition of camera and microphone have allowed for the net meeting concept where people can see and talk to each other via computer from any location.  It also allows for photos and other visual presentations to be broadcast in real time.  Some even have signature pads that allow people to sign documents in real time.  This has improved industries that require original signatures on documents, eliminating mail and other forms of identity verification.



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