Design And Implementation Of Decision Support System For Software Evaluation

Project and Seminar Material for Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Design And Implementation Of Decision Support System For Software Evaluation


Abstract


This research work focused on decision support system for software evaluation. The concept of software evaluation evolved as a result of the need for selecting effective amongst numerous software packages available today. Most of the software marketed are not really able to solve the problems they were designed for very well and this may bring about loss for the user of the system. It is in view of the need to select the best software that necessitates the study. Choosing the wrong software package can turn out to be costly and adversely affect business processes. It is therefore imperative to adopt the software evaluation techniques or methodologies to grade and select the best software based on defined criteria for evaluation. Use case modeling was adopted to represent the different components of the system. The software development methodology used is the spiral model and the programming language used is Visual BASIC 6.0.


Chapter One


1.0 Introduction

This chapter introduces the decision support system for software evaluation. It is the first chapter in this research work and is specifically focused on the theoretical background as well as the statement of the problem, aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, organization of the research and finally the definition of terms. This will bring clarity in regards to the general concept of this research project.


1.1 Theoretical Background

Making decisions concerning complex systems (e.g., the management of organizational operations, industrial processes, or software evaluation) often strains our cognitive capabilities. Even though individual interactions among a system’s variables may be well understood, predicting how the system will react to an external manipulation such as a policy decision is often difficult. Many variables are involved in complex and often subtle interdependencies and predicting the total outcome may be daunting. There is a substantial amount of empirical evidence that human intuitive judgment and decision making can be far from optimal, and it deteriorates even further with complexity and stress. Because in many situations the quality of decisions is important, aiding the deficiencies of human judgment and decision making has been a major focus of science throughout history. Applying decision support systems to software evaluation therefore is a very important research area.

Decision Supports Systems (DSS) are computer-based information systems designed in such a way that help managers to select one of the many alternative solutions to a problem. It is possible to automate some of the decision making processes in a large, computer-based DSS which is sophisticated and analyze huge amount of information fast. It helps corporate to increase market share, reduce costs, increase profitability and enhance quality. The nature of problem itself plays the main role in a process of decision making. A DSS is an interactive computer based information system with an organized collection of models, people, procedures, software, databases, telecommunication, and devices, which helps decision makers to solve unstructured or semi-structured business problems. Adopting decision support system to software evaluation guarantees accurate evaluation of the software [3].

Evaluation is dependent on the current knowledge of science and the methodological standards. Evaluation as an aid for software development has been applied since the last decade, when the comprehension of the role of evaluation within Human-Computer Interaction had changed. The activities “Task analysis”, “Requirement specification”, “Conceptual and formal design”, “Prototyping”, “Implementation” are each supplemented by an activity “Evaluation” which helps to decide progression to the next step. Software can be evaluated with respect to different aspects, for example, functionality, reliability, usability, efficiency, maintainability, portability. In earlier times evaluation of software took place at the end of the developing phase, using experimental designs and statistical analysis, evaluation is nowadays used as a tool for information gathering within iterative design: “Explicit human-factors evaluations of early interactive systems (when they were done at all) were poorly integrated with development and therefore ineffective. They tended to be done too late for any substantial changes to the system still be feasible and, in common with other human-factors contributions to development, they were often unfavourably received. Instruments for evaluation are not primarily used for global evaluation of an accomplished product, but these instruments are applied during the development of a product. Indeed, most experts agree nowadays that the development of usable software can only be done by a systematic consideration of usability aspects within the life-cycle model. One prominent part is the evaluation of prototypes with respect to usability aspects, employing suitable evaluation techniques in order to find usability errors and weaknesses of the software at an early stage. [1].

The technology used is Microsoft Access 2003 and Visual Basic 6.0. The source code below can be used to save software valuation record to database in Visual Basic 6.0

Private Sub Command1_Click()

Adodc3.Recordset.Update

MsgBox “SAVED”

End Sub


1.2 Statement of Problem

As institutions and organizations spend huge amount on Enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages and other computer software that cost hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars, purchasing a software solution is a high expenditure activity that consumes a significant portion of companies’ capital budgets. The following are the problems faced:

  1. Selecting the right solution is an exhausting process for companies.
  2. Therefore, selecting a software package that meets the requirements needs a full examination of many conflicting factors and it is a difficult task.
  3. Most times the software bought do not meet the needs of the institution or organization despite the huge amount.
  4. To avoid the problem of software ineffectiveness, this has led researchers to investigate better ways of evaluating and selecting software packages.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to develop a decision support system for software evaluation. The following are the objectives of the study:

  1. To design and implement a decision support system for software evaluation.
  2. To develop a system that will assess the software features to determine their level of effectiveness?
  3. To develop a system that will maintain record of software evaluation records

1.4 Significance of the Study

The significance of the study are:

  1. It will enable software users and developers evaluate the effectiveness of a software product.
  2. It utilizes a simple approach for evaluation.
  3. The study will also serve as a useful reference material to other researchers seeking for information concerning the subject.

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study covers decision support system for software evaluation. It is limited to the capturing of the weighted mean of software features and the determination of the best software option based on the total weight of its features.


1.6 Organization of Research

This research work is organized into five chapters.

  1. Chapter one is concerned with the introduction of the research study and it presents the preliminaries, theoretical background, statement of the problem, aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, organization of the research and definition of terms.
  2. Chapter two focuses on the literature review, the contributions of other scholars on the subject matter is discussed.
  3. Chapter three is concerned with the system analysis and design. It presents the research methodology used in the development of the system, it analyzes the present system to identify the problems and provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed system. The system design is also presented in this chapter.
  4. Chapter four presents the system implementation and documentation, the choice of programming language, analysis of modules, choice of programming language and system requirements for implementation.
  5. Chapter five focuses on the summary, constraints of the study, conclusion and recommendations are provided in this chapter based on the study carried out.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Software:

Programs and applications that can be run on a computer system, e.g. word processing or database packages

Evaluation:

The act of considering or examining something in order to judge its value, quality, importance, extent, or condition

System:

An assembly of computer hardware, software, and peripherals functioning together to solve a common problem.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.0 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary, conclusion, constraints of the study and useful recommendations are offered based on the research study.


5.1 Summary

Many studies provide a preferred list of evaluation criteria for evaluation of specific software package. The exact meaning of a criterion is open to the evaluator’s own interpretation. Sometimes the terminology used by author(s) for a criterion in one literature is different than another author(s) for the same criterion. This may lead to ambiguity and gives unclear picture to the evaluator. To address this issue we provide generic lists of evaluation criteria and their meaning, which can be used for evaluation of any type of the software package. Although, functional criteria for software selection vary from software to software, criteria related to cost, vendor and quality of the software may be common and can be used for selection of any software package. The standard list of evaluation criteria and their definition could overcome some of the pitfalls in software evaluation and selection process.


5.2 Constraints of the Study

In the course of the research work, some challenges were faced such as:

Time:

The time given for the research work is too short. A research of this magnitude requires time to be properly executed

Materials:

Few materials were found pertaining to the research study, and this limited the bulk of the literature.

Finances:

The high cost of transportation to different libraries as well as the high cost of internet browsing stood as limitation of the study.


5.3 Conclusion

A decision support system for software evaluation is an automated system that accepts the values of the criteria for evaluating software to evaluate the effectiveness of the software. This information provided aids organizations to decide on the effectiveness of the software. The average value presented as the result reveals the capability of the software system. There is need to develop a framework including a decision support software selection methodology, an evaluation technique, an evaluation criteria, and a system to support evaluation and selection of any software package.


5.4 Recommendations

The following recommendations are offered based on the study:

  1. More research should be encouraged in the area of software evaluation
  2. Computer programmers should be contracted to develop software evaluation systems.
  3. Organizations should evaluate software before they acquire it.

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