Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Charlie The Elf Analyst

It was December 1st, only 24 days left until Christmas and Santa found himself with a problem on his hands. You see, this year when Santa got all the letters from the good children of the world he read that all the good little boys wanted the same gift. They all wanted a new train for Christmas. Santa was excited that the popular gift of the year was a classic; however he knew he had a shortage of trains made at the shop. With only 24 days left, Santa called his head elf to his office, Clyde, he filled him in on the dilemma and asked Clyde to pull together the elves so we could get 5000 more trains made by Christmas so all the good little boys wishes would be fulfilled.

Head elf Clyde left Santa's office and headed straight to the workshop to announce the news, he was going to request 5000 trains made and told the elves they would have to work through the night in order to get this accomplished Instead of making 100 toys a day, they would have to make 200 a day. All of the elves seemed a little discouraged but didn't want to disappoint Santa so they started working faster than they ever had before.

On December 20th, only 4 days left to go, the elves still had 1000 trains to go, they knew they were not going to make their goal… Until a smart elf named Charlie got up the nerves to talk to Head elf Clyde. Charlie approached Clyde and told him, observing how many more trains were to be made; it was unlikely they would make their goal… unless they came up with a plan. Charlie said he had a plan that he wanted to introduce to Clyde and Santa. At this point Clyde was very concerned they were not going to make the goal so he was willing to hear out what Charlie had to say. Charlie had talked to the other elves to ask how many trains they thought they could make in a day. Charlie asked if they could divide up shifts to get more sleep so they'd be more productive than working through the night. Charlie crunched some numbers and put together a schedule that seemed as if the elves would be able to make their goal. Charlie presented this to Clyde and Santa and they decided to give it a try. During the next 4 days the elves followed Charlie's schedule exactly, making sure they completed the number of toys assigned to their shift and switching with the other elves in order to get rest. On the 4th day, the elves cheered as the 5000th train was made and Clyde ran to Santa with the great news. Santa came down to the workshop and thanked the elves for their hard work and wanted to especially thank Charlie for being brave and coming up with a plan of what was required in order to get the work done. Because of Charlie's plan, Santa was going to be able to deliver the trains to all the good little boys of the world. The End!

Moral: The moral of this story is all business requirements and needs should be carefully defined before implementing the system. If Charlie's plan would have been followed from the start the elves would have finished the toy well before the deadline. Clyde did not come up with a plan at all and had the elves start implementing/building the toys right away. This caused delay, exhaustion and backtracking for the project. Errors in incomplete requirements can result in incremental costs (elves working on the toys longer than needed) and extended project timeliness (finished on the last day).

These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.

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© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.