UNIT CODE: ACT506
UNIT NAME: Accounting Information Systems
Semester 2, 2021
This is a group assignment and will account for
50% of your course grade.
You MUST follow these instructions:
• This assignment should be around 6500 - 7000 words
• Use A4 size page leaving at least a 2.5cm margin on either side, Arial 11 font, single spaced
• The name and ID of each group member should be included on the first page of your assignment report, followed by percentage of their contribution.
• ONLY ONE SUBMISSION PER GROUP MUST BE SUBMITTED.
• Self-assigned groups will be formed from students within each tutorial. This task needs to be completed by the end of the third week. Students need to determine Four members for each group. Workload must be distributed equally among all the members of the group. If a member of the group withdraws from the unit (at any stage of the semester), the other group members should continue with the overall workload. No additional members will be assigned. Please note no further changes will be made to the initial group membership at any given stage.
ASSIGNMENT PROJECT DETAILS
Assignment Project Objectives
This assignment is set to provide students with an opportunity to:
• Analyse an accounting information system to support a relatively small business system with some e-commerce capabilities
• Use narrative description for documentation
• Report and document systems flowchart
• Identify and analyse measures that are in place to control the system and its data
• Recommend additional controls to improve operational and information system effectiveness.
Your group (of four members) will learn about and propose a design of part(s) of an accounting information system (e.g. accounts payable, general ledger) or a system closely related to the AIS (e.g., sales, human resources). Your first task is to determine which business scenario (from one of the business environments provided on the ACT304 Learnline site) your group will use. And then determine which interactive parts (sub- systems) of an accounting information system you will design.
By the end of week three, your tutor will allocate students to the groups and will assign business scenarios. Next, your tutor will determine which sub-systems (four in total) to be analysed by the group. Once you receive this information, you will plan your work as a group for the project.
Next, you need to gather information about the industry of the firm indicated in the case study. You should conduct both a manual and an on-line literature search to find recent, relevant articles in newspapers, trade journals, general business periodicals, etc. Examine the Web sites (if they have one) of potential competitors, an industry association etc. The purpose of this review will be to help you understand the operational and strategic challenges which affect how the firm’s AIS is used by accountants and managers in the organisation. On an ongoing basis, you should also read relevant periodicals in case a relevant current article discusses the firm’s industry.
The information you gain from your literature search will form the basis of your understanding of the AIS requirements and form the basis of your AIS design. Then you will prepare the first section of your assignment report that describes the client’s organisation and its industry and document the AIS (including a system narrative and a document/system flowchart) and compare AIS design with the generic AIS described in the text. As part of the AIS design process, you will identify suitable software application(s) to support your system design. Normally suitable software application(s) are identified after the system has been designed and system specifications are identified. However, it may be possible to integrate the process of application selection and design as an iterative process.
You will next identify, describe and analyse the application and pervasive controls related to this AIS. As the case study will have some necessary constraints that will prevent you designing a perfect system, you will need to identify control weaknesses and inefficiencies and what recommendations or design changes you would suggest to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the AIS, if some or all of the constraints are reduced. Finally, you will complete and submit your report.
Collaborative learning is emphasized in this project. Your individual efforts and skills should complement other members of your group of 3 students. The final product should be better than the output of a single individual!
Planned use of non-organisation sources: Do a preliminary consultation with a reference librarian to identify relevant sources of information about the industry of your case study’s firm. Describe in detail the specific data sources you plan to search to learn about your firm’s industry ry. Include trade journals and web sites. Do not state that you will search on “Lexis Nexis” or “the Web” or “relevant trade journals.” Instead, note which Web sites, which specific trade journals, etc. Identify sources that will also help you understand the particular accounting cycle you will examine or typical packages for this system (e.g., text, other sources).
Detailed Description of the Requirements:
There are three parts to consider for this assignment.
Part 1: Project plan
1.1 Group Member Responsibilities
Develop a clear understanding of how each member will contribute to the work of the group, communicate with one another, and ensure a quality product throughout the entire project. This section will require the group to set specific dates for completion of each part. Each student should be allocated one of the subsystems identified and contribute to each of the requirements1 of this assignment, as they are related to the sub-system allocated to the student.
Describe specific mechanisms that will ensure that:
i. the group does not rely excessively on any one individual,
ii. controversial issues receive adequate discussion of appropriate points of view, iii. ongoing work is appropriately reviewed and revised well ahead of due dates, and iv. the collective efforts of the group yield a better outcome than individuals working alone.
Mechanisms for group communication and coordination should be specific and unambiguous (e.g. all members agree to check their e-mail three times daily; use of a telephone calling list, etc.). Mechanisms for analysis, review and quality control should also be specific and unambiguous. These mechanisms would include (but not necessarily be limited to):
mechanisms for dispute resolution with the group (egg majority vote, 3rd part arbitration etc.).
• mechanisms for ensuring deadlines for individual efforts are met.
• the way workloads will be redistributed in a timely manner if individuals cannot meet their agreed obligations to the group effort.
• the way the quality of individual input is analysed/assessed and if necessary, improved upon on a timely basis.
• the file naming conventions to be used by individuals and by the group.
• the way assignment documents will be managed in order to facilitate updating and access by various group members.
• the way assignment documents and data will be protected from loss or corruption.
Successful completion of the following activities is necessary for a well-managed project:
• Define: Identify project goals and objectives.
• Plan: Identify and sequence project activities.
• Organize: Assign work packages (some to individuals, some to sub-groups, some to the entire group).
• Control: Establish status reports and a mechanism to monitor quality and progress against scheduled deliverables.
• Close: Prepare and present the report to the client.
1.2 Executive Summary (no more than 200 words):
Your executive summary should provide an overview of the entire document and highlight a key message, such as actions you are urging that your client to take. There is no single format, but one appropriate way to organize an executive summary might be as follows:
• Professional assignment. This should answer the following questions: (Who are you? What was your assignment? What tasks did your group perform?)
• Purpose of the document (“This report describes our findings and recommendations...”)
• Results (what your group observed/found)
• Conclusions (your group’s assessment of the system’s strengths and weaknesses) • Recommendations
Part 2: System Documentation and Analysis (3900 words)
Preparation: Your group should meet several times to discuss the sub-system descriptions, narratives, documentation, the interactions/interdependencies and information flows between the sub-systems. With the intention of ensuring consistency between sub-systems and in the overall systems documentation and overall quality of the report.
It is expected that each student in a group will focus on one of the sub-systems being analysed, (along with contributing equally to those elements of this deliverable that are not specifically part of a specific sub-system and supporting other group members in the analysis of the other sub-systems being analysed by the group).
Detailed description of the requirements for this section are as follows:
2.1 Organisation/Industry Description (no more than 300 words):
Describe the products/services sold by the firm. Describe the firm’s industry, primary competitors, etc. Include an organisation chart showing the intended major reporting relationships that you will design into your group’s system. Discuss significant industry trends and competitive/operational challenges (e.g., slow growth, new competitors, new regulations, etc.) Cite all sources used (including trade journals, general business publications, Web pages, and primary sources). The project should be properly referenced using an accepted reference technique accompanied by appropriate bibliography and literature review at the end of section
2.2 Describe the purpose and key features of each relevant part of the AIS (700 words).
Describe how each of the proposed AIS sub-systems contributes to organisational goals. On the organisation chart, show how the department(s) in which each AIS sub-system is used relate(s) to the larger organisation. Describe each sub-system’s major functions, typical transactions, reports produced, and frequency of transaction and master file updates.
2.3 Discuss how your system addresses the main issues specific to e-business systems: (600 words).
Identify the main issues that are specific to e-business processes/activities/systems (as opposed to “traditional” business processes/activities/systems). Discuss how your system design addresses these issues.
2.4 Describe how each of your proposed AIS sub-systems will provide data for managerial decisions. (500 words)
Describe the typical managerial decisions supported by each of the proposed sub-systems and what other data and/or information is needed for these decisions in addition to that supplied by the system.
2.5 Describe the key features of AIS software chosen (400 words).
As part of the AIS design process, you will identify suitable software application(s) to support your system design. Normally suitable software application(s) are identified after the system has been designed and system specifications are identified. However, it may be possible to integrate the process of application selection and design as an iterative process (i.e. find suitable software, identify its key features and adopt these features into your sub-systems design). Obtain a copy of the chosen AIS software brochure. Read the comments about the accounting software in the brochure in respect to those modules that the group has chosen to report on. Identify and describe the key elements and features that apply to each of the subsystems under review.
Describe the computer and network hardware and software that might be used and interfaces with other systems (from which it receives data or sends data). Discuss whether the organisation uses reasonably current technology, and show how the components of the system are arranged. Include such details as hardware brand (e.g., Dell, HP), processor (Intel Core i7-8700K, AMD FX-8350, etc.), operating system (e.g. MAC OS, Windows 10 — include version numbers), database software (e.g. MS Access, DB2, Oracle), network description (LAN, WAN, or both), and network software used (e.g. Cloud/SaaS, Windows Server 2016, Linux; Apache Web Server). Note whether the software was developed in-house or purchased and describe the contractual relationship with the software vendor.
2.6 Discuss a few points of similarity/contrast between each relevant part of your AIS design and that described in the relevant chapter (400 words).
Consider the “standard” description of the system and compare and contrast your system design with the “standard” description. Where significant differences exist suggest reasons for the differences (such as changes to accommodate/compliment controls in other systems, cost effectiveness etc.)
2.7 Document the system using narrative and flowchart (1000 words)
• Prepare a two pages narrative describing the operation of each of the sub-systems under review, it’s data flows, processes, forms, files and reports. Prepare a Level 0 Logical Data Flow Diagram, decisions
• Prepare a Document systems flowchart which is consistent with the Level 0 Logical Data Flow Diagram and Narrative
Part 3: Internal Controls Analysis and Documentation, and Recommendations (around 2900 word)
Preparation: Your group should meet once or two times to discuss the controls (or lack of controls) that you designed in your firm’s system, prepare a control matrix describing them, analyse their effectiveness and efficiency. Identify if your system has “built-in” control deficiencies. Then prepare the documents listed below.
Detailed description of the requirements for this section and the draft report are as follows:
There are no recommended or suggested page lengths for this section. The page lengths are entirely dependent on the elements discussed. However, it is expected that you will be relevant, clear and concise in your discussions.
3.1 Partial Control Matrix: include at least 7 existing control plans and any (-missing-) control plans for each subsystem examined. These control plans should relate to the “key” or “main” objectives of each of the relevant parts of the client’s sub-system under review. As the case study will have some necessary constraints that will prevent you designing a perfect system, you will need to identify control weaknesses and inefficiencies inherent in your design and what recommendations or design changes you would suggest to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the AIS, if some or all of the constraints are reduced.
3.2 Control Matrix Explanation: Describe how each control plan helps (or would help) achieve system goals.
3.3 Control Analysis: Discuss the overall adequacy of controls used in each sub-system under review. Discuss the efficiency and effectiveness of controls (if an operations or information system goal has no plan listed under it on your matrix, why not? Does an expensive control support a single goal? Is this appropriate, in your judgment? Are there control deficiencies in your system design due to cost effect constraints, software incompatibility with your preferred system etc.? If so why is this appropriate, in your judgment? Discuss the mix of preventive, detective, and corrective controls. Form a conclusion as to the quality of the controls, based on the system’s environment and user needs.
3.4 Managerial Recommendations for each sub-system under review: Go beyond a narrow control view to a broader look at how well the system achieves organisational goals, and how it might be incrementally or dramatically reengineered (e.g. by taking advantage of new technologies) to better achieve organisational goals, in the future. If you recommend changes to your current system design and procedures, prepare a draft of the new procedure(s), and document how the system would change, using a data flow diagram or flow chart. If you recommend a new report, prepare a draft of that report. If you recommend purchase of new hardware or a new software package, indicate either a specific product recommendation, or list several viable options. If you recommend the status quo, justify your recommendation. This segment will complement the discussion of missing controls in part 3.1.
Please use the flowcharting conventions shown on the textbook for Data Flow Diagrams, and Flowchart Diagrams.
Guidelines for Assignment Preparation Before Submission
• It is preferable that assignments be typed (written assignments will be accepted but only if clear and legible. Marks may be deducted for illegible or partially illegible papers.)
• Sketches, diagrams, charts etc. should be neat and properly labelled.
• Where appropriate assignments should be single spaced.
• Where applicable the assignment should be presented on A4 size page leaving at least a 2.5cm margin on either side. (This is the best format for viewing and marking.) Larger page sizes can be utilised for charts etc.
• Number each page of the assignment. (Where practicable the student’s name and student’s number and/or group’s name and number should also appear on each page.)
• Make a duplicate copy of each assignment. This overcomes any problems should your assignments ever be lost even though this rarely happens.
• Assignment lodgement via Learnline is mandatory. No assignment will be accepted by email.
• When lodging your file electronically, please use a file name structure/convention that results in a unique file name that allows the receiver to identify to whom the file belongs, the relevant assignment and relevant deliverable. Generic names such as -assignment one- etc. are not acceptable.
• Assignment papers should be properly referenced using an accepted reference technique accompanied by appropriate bibliography and literature review. Students should restrict their quoting of specific passages to a bare minimum.
• Students' attention is drawn to the Student Conduct By-Laws of the Charles Darwin University.
http://www.cdu.edu.au/governance/policies/pol-001.pdf and Student Breach of Academic Integrity Procedures http://www.cdu.edu.au/governance/procedures/pro-092.pdf
ONLY ONE SUBMISSION PER GROUP MUST BE SUBMITTED.
Each assignment must be lodged on or before the due date indicated in the assignment details. Submit your assignment one single MS Word document. Each submission must conform to the requirements set out in the assignment requirement section. Each submission must be lodged online via the Assignment Lodgement link on the ACT304 Learnline site. Ensure your file is named using a file naming convention that allows the lecturer to identify to whom it belongs. Failure to use an acceptable file naming convention may result in your assignment lodgement being rejected.
Late Assignments and Extensions:
LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL GENERALLY NOT BE ACCEPTED.
Exceptions will only be made where assignments are late due to special circumstances that are supported by documentary evidence and may be subject to a penalty of 5% of assignment marks per day. Partially completed assignments will be accepted with appropriate loss of marks for the incomplete portion. Should students foresee potential difficulties with submission of assessment items, they should contact the lecturer immediately the difficulties come to notice, to discuss suitable arrangements etc. for the submission of those assessment items. An Application for Assignment Extension or Special Consideration should be completed and provided to the Dean, College of Business and Law. This application form, explanation and instructions is available on the ACT304 CDU Learnline site. Please note that it is now College policy that all extension requests must be approved by the College Dean. The lecturer is no longer able to personally approve extension requests.
For general guidelines and requirements refer to Assignment Preparation Guidelines provided in this document and on the ACT304 CDU Learnline course site.