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

Once upon a time in a small town lived two boys Dim and Sum. Both the boys were from poor families and were looking for work all the time. One day a rich merchant wanting to help the boys approached Dim and Sum and told them that whoever built a water fountain that the council members liked for 50 gold coins in 8 days would help the merchant in his business.

The boys seeing this as an opportunity of a lifetime started working on the fountain. Dim who was the more organized of the two, started working on his plans and drew maps for the fountain. On the other hand Sum was a gifted designer, he decided to get some bricks and cement and started working on the fountain without any planning.

As the days passed, Dim completed the drawing of the fountain and scheduled the time that he would require to implement it within 8 days. However he realized that it would cost him more than 50 gold coins to build the fountain as he had no knowledge on what types of materials to use or how to build the fountain. The council members liked his plans and drawings but were worried that Dim would not be able to build the fountain.

On the other hand, Sum was good at selecting the material and doing carvings to make it look fancy and good. It took him several attempts to finally come up with a design that the council members liked. He realized that he should have drawn a schedule and then started working on the fountain, without a formal plan it would take him more than 8 days to complete the whole water fountain although if he could sequence the activities he could accomplish the task in less than 50 gold coins.

Discouraged that they both had lost a chance to improve their lives, each of them decided to go look at the other personís fountain, not knowing that both of them were not even close to getting it done on time. On the 8th day when the council members gathered to see the fountain, to their surprise they were astonished to see a fully operational fountain that they really liked, but there was only one fountain and not two!!! The merchant was impressed and gave both of them a job at his business.

Moral: The moral of this story is that for a successful project you need a good project manager (who can schedule activities) and a good system analyst (who can build the system).

In the fable Dim had good project management skills; he was able to come up with the schedule of activities that would have helped him to complete the project on time. He knew the activities and was able to sequence them but had no idea on the type of materials to use or how to build the end product. On the other hand, Sum was good in building the product and making it do what it was suppose to do but had no idea on how to finish it given the time and cost constraints. He was using an error and trial method to make the fountain, i.e. he would start working on the fountain and then realize it would take him more time as he was not able to sequence the activities in a correct order.

Project management is an important tool that helps to achieve a goal given the constraints of a system or a project. In systems analysis and design project management makes sure that the project will not exceed the given time and budget and will be completed using the resources available. In any systems analysis and design project there are methodologies which are standard steps involved in completion of the project. If initiated by a company the project has to be analyzed to make sure that it would be a sound investment, designed to achieve a particular objective mentioned during analysis and implemented by testing the final product and training the users. All these steps are significant and an integral part of any systems analysis and design project. To make sure all resources are being used effectively and efficiently such projects are overlooked or planned by project managers.

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

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