Acc-821 Enterprise Database Systems

Acc-821 Enterprise Database Systems



Fall 2002

Professor:Bill McCarthy

Office:N228 North Business College Complex

Off. Hours:diagram to be distributed

Mail:432-2913 (voice mail); mccarth4@ (email)

Text:We will not use a formal text. There will be a variety of readings distributed in class. I will also make references on the web known to students.

Course Overview:

How do we build enterprise information systems that meet the needs of a variety of decision-makers in accounting, finance, management, marketing, supply chain logistics, etc.? This course answers that question with a strong emphasis on the design and use of conceptually modeled databases. A database is a model of a company. Designing a good enterprise database system starts with recognizing how a company deploys its resources and people to create value for its customers and hence a profit for its owners. We call a model of this strategic process the Business Entrepreneur Script, an example of which can be seen at the top of the figure on the next page. Once a company's script for profitable economic behavior has been specified, each process in that script can be described further as a value-added exchange where the enterprise gives up or consumes some resources (such as its stock of talent, raw materials, and computing power) and takes back or produces something of greater value to its customers (such as a completed job). Each of these exchanges can be separately modeled in a database, and when we put them all together, we have a complete picture of an enterprise's value-chain and a complete specification of its enterprise information architecture. As seen at the bottom of the accompanying figure, each process of this value chain can be exploded into two mirror-image patterns of objects. These events can be further decomposed into the tasks necessary to accomplish them. From this transaction processing base, we will see that it is possible to produce any of the internal or external figures that financial decision-makers require. On top of this accountability infrastructure, we can add the components of other decision and policy areas needed to derive much of the information needed by other corporate managers to plan, control, and evaluate enterprise economic activity.

In ACC-821 at Michigan State, we use the software package ACCESS to implement the information systems designed in the modeling processes described above, but students in this class will be able to transfer their knowledge directly to a multitude of comparable database and enterprise packages. We will also relate the use of our design techniques to more traditional types of enterprise software in both concept and practice, and we will finish by reviewing the costs and benefits of all varieties of information systems in actual corporate use.

The objectives and material content of this course are most applicable to those students headed for general business (non-technical) careers. When students leave this course, it is my goal that they will be able to take any information system that they encounter in practice and relate its features to the conceptual enterprise framework learned here. This should give students a sound basis for understanding the functioning of those systems. Additionally, because this course strongly emphasizes conceptual design first and cost-benefit compromise only as a secondary step (to be examined after the mid-term break), the lessons learned here should strongly dispose students toward demanding that the computer systems they use be as flexible and non-artifactual as possible. This will allow them to be informed consumers and users of high quality enterprise software. The objectives and content of ACC-821 are also applicable to those students who are using the course as a first step toward an eventual career in systems analysis or information systems consulting. If this class looks like something you envision as a career, we need to talk about your options before the end of the term.

A topic and assignment schedule is given on the next two pages. This is followed by a detailed explanation of grading components and procedures. Students should pay special attention to the description of ESSAY and CLASSWORK components. One of your essays is due next week, and my description of what I expect is a good summary of my experiences in teaching this class recently. From experience, I also realize that my standard of class-work is different from what students assume. Please look it over and see if you have any immediate questions.

ACC-821 -- FALL 2002


Modeling Exam#120

Modeling Exam#215

Final Exam15

Take-Home Quizzes07

Team Project (ACCESS)08

Indiv. Projects (ACCESS)12




a.EXAMINATIONS -- There will be three exams: two data modeling (20 & 15 %), and a final essay exam (15%). The two modeling exams look exactly like the take-home quizzes, so there will be no surprises. I give modeling exams at night to avoid time pressures on this comprehensive problems. I will give out a list of the learning objectives for the final in mid-November, and that list will detail the questions to be expected. My exams are curved with a 3.0 - 3.1 average and a 4.0 high. Exams certainly constitute the most difficult component of the course, and it is not unusual that the averages hover around 70% with a top of approximately 90%. All students (regardless of their exam abilities) have a chance to excel in work to be completed at their own pace (50% of grade).

b.TAKE-HOME QUIZZES (THQ) -- The take-home quizzes are worth 7%, and I assign them when a certain set of learning objectives is ready to be assessed. All of the TH quizzes are old test questions. Students grade their own take-home quizzes right in class. I usually assign a default grade of 3.2 to students who have done all the quizzes and then assess them individually as needed (TH Quizzes never hurt your grade if you do all of them; they always hurt your grade if you skip them). Past students have told me often that timely completion of the take-homes is the key to learning the complex modeling skills of the course and to doing well on the exams. Realistically, you cannot afford to skip any of these assignments. Since TH quizzes must be done alone by the submitting student, I will also distribute other modeling problems (designated on the schedule with **) that people can do together. Using these secondary (**) problems during Sunday-Tuesday office hours last year allowed me to establish a learning “rhythm” to the course that many students found especially useful.

c.ESSAYS -- During the third week of class, I will ask students to submit a 5-6 page essay that encompasses the following topics: (1) a summary of their experiences with computers and information systems, (2) an estimation of how knowledge about intra-enterprise information systems and inter-enterprise information systems fits into their long and short term career plans, (3) a candid self-assessment of their individual intellectual strengths and learning styles, (4) an assessment of how the ACC-821 course materials and learning strategies (as they understand them after one week) fit their individual styles and strengths, and (5) how they plan to reconcile differences between (1) and (2) and between (3) and (4). This first essay will be evaluated on presentation, content, and imagination. However, it will not be graded and returned to students until the middle of the course because I want a chance to read it when I know people better.

With regard to points (3) and (4) above, I know from past experience that many students who have reveled in their ability to solve computational and/or objective essay problems in other business disciplines will find the course content of this systems class to be "different." For example, I never have need for calculators on exams, and the concept of a single "correct answer" simply doesn't apply to most problems. I don’t ever use objective testing. The course emphasizes designing systems to support decision makers, many of whom want different “spins” on basic economic data. Dealing with "types" of problems instead of individual problems themselves means comprehending and learning at a more abstract level. When you make a database design decision for instance, you are not modeling a particular event (like a single sale) or a particular person (like a single customer), you are modeling the pattern of those phenomena for the rest of the company's existence. You shouldn't get the mistaken impression that there are no right and wrong answers in data modeling. As some of you might see on exams and take-home quizzes, this is certainly not the case. However, the range of acceptable solutions and justifications for those solutions is comparatively broad in traditional curriculum terms, and this ambiguity increases as the term goes on.

In the past, I have told students that this is a left-handed (intuitive, simultaneous, wants overview, notices patterns) course while many others are right-handed (rational, sequential, interested in details, detects features). That is probably an over-generalization, but it is certainly the case that the types of conceptual skills you learn in ACC-821 can be used successfully in many occupations (the most prominent of which is, of course, information systems consulting). You can think of this course as an exercise in trying to get your left-brain (right-handed) self to cooperate with your right-brain self. If you loved high school algebra but hated calculus, or if you did well on the SAT/ACT/GMAT math part but came up to less than what you wanted on the verbal part, you have an idea of the challenges that lay ahead this term. THINK CONCEPTUAL, THINK VISUAL, THINK BIG, and THINK IMAGINATIVELY will be some of our bywords throughout the term.

After the mid-term, students will be responsible for a second essay (3-5 pages) that will serve as a mid-course check. In this paper, students will be asked to evaluate their progress with course learning objectives. They will also be asked to evaluate how well their performances on exams, quizzes, and computer projects seems to reflect their own self-estimation of their mastery of course material. In a sense, ESSAY #1 sets some goals and strategies for the course, while ESSAY #2 evaluates the progress of student and teacher in meeting those goals and in using those strategies. This second essay will also be evaluated on presentation, content, and imagination. During November, all students in the class will be expected to come in for an office visit to discuss their essays and other class matters.

d.COMPUTER PROJECTS (CP) -- There will be three computer projects assigned in the course:

(1) a small introductory exercise that familiarizes individual students with ACCESS (5%);

(2) an enterprise data modeling exercise called Sy’s Fish that requires an individual student to populate multiple business processes of an example company with an MS-ACCESS database (7%), and

(2) a two-part project involving financial statement preparation for a manufacturing firm called VENTURA VEHICLES (8%). Ventura is done in teams with ACCESS and whatever spreadsheet package team members choose. There is also a narrative part to this project and a team presentation on the 3rd of Decemberl. Team members rate each other for both contribution and cooperation.

All computer projects given to me are assumed to be the work solely of the submitting student. No solutions from past terms or other people are acceptable. Violations of this policy can cause failure on the project.

There is also a set of database tutorials that is being run via the WWW for both sections of ACC-823 (these are bolded on the schedule). These are completely optional, but students should note that this is the easiest way possible to learn the rudiments of MS-ACCESS.

e.CLASSWORK -- Conceptual modeling of business phenomena leading to cost-beneficial enterprise information systems is the focus of this course, and it is a difficult problem-solving skill that takes time, patience, and practice to master. Class lectures concentrate on this skill throughout the term. Students realistically cannot afford to miss class, and if you do, you need to get the notes quickly from a classmate and then talk to me. The assigned paper readings provide more conceptual instruction in representation and modeling.

Classwork will count for 15% of the grade points available for the term, and it will comprise both everyday participation and preparation (as assessed by the teacher) and cooperative learning participation and preparation (as assessed by peers). Points are added for average or above average performances in cooperative learning; points are subtracted for below average performances or cuts. Simply coming to class will not add to the assessment of everyday participation, but cutting class will certainly detract from it. I expect involved participation and sharing of ideas, problems, and misunderstandings -- a standard that is different from attentive note-taking. Class participation is assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively, with most emphasis on the former. As a matter of procedure, I usually note the class composition on my seating chart at the start of the period, and then I note participation on that chart during my time after class. I don’t aggregate class grades until the term is finished. One important note: with a dismal classwork record, it is possible to affect more than 15% of a final grade. Such cases happen more often than one might think. I am sure that this will not be the case here, but note the possibility.


28 -30 / Representing enterprise economic reality with conceptual models.
4 / An REA-modeled enterprise / Julie Smith David paper (distributed)
9-11 / Introduction to data modeling constructs. CP#1 is due on 9 SEP. / Paper#1, ACCESS select queries and table modification (FRI)
16-18 / Relational table construction / M&M**; THQ#1 -- University Slum Lords; Action Queries
23-25 / Efficient and effective database design. Design heuristics. / Nantasket Casket, Gasket, & Basket**, Boston Bottle**; Form wizards, and report wizards
30-2 / Commitment and type images. / TS Enterprises**, Marilyn Monroe Makeovers**, Geerts & McCarthy process modeling paper. Review of forms and form properties
7-9 / Process and task (workflow) specification. / Flint X-Ray**, THQ#2 -- Jane’s JELL-O, Review of macros
14-16 / Data modeling review, Computer Project #2 due on 16 October / South Shore Petroleum**, Outsourced Movers**, THQ#3 – Belgian Chocolates, Visual Basic I
21-23 / EXAM#1 is 21 October @ 6:00 p.m.; Ventura Vehicles Review / Native American Alaskan Expeditions**; THQ#4 Vivian’s Fashion Factory I, Ventura Vehicles paper by David & McCarthy (distributed). Visual Basic II

** = optional data modeling exercise

ACC-821 CLASS SCHEDULE (continued)

/ EDI, XML, and E-Commerce Collaboration Models / ebXML overview (distributed); Visual Basic III
4-6 / Transaction signals, implementation compromise, and legacy systems. Conversion cycle review / Denna & Walker paper (distributed),
11-13 / Manufacturing processes. Materialization of account balances in REA-modeled architectures /

Bismarck Sausage**, THQ#5 -- Vivian’s Fashion Factory II**,

David, Geerts, and McCarthy ebXML-XBRL paper (distributed), ORACLE-II
18-20 / Logistics, personnel, and finance. Processes. EXAM#2 is 20 November @ 6:00 p.m. / Fox’s Hen Houses**, THQ#5 – NICOSYS, ORACLE-III
25-27 / Ventura Vehicles Presentations. Computer Project #3 due on 25 November / NO LAB SESSION
3-5 / Information Systems Evolution / David, McCarthy, and Sommer paper on evolution (distributed)
9-13 / FINAL EXAMS (time determined by MBA office).

** = optional data modeling exercise