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Lesson 5

SOFTWARE
SPECIFICATION TOOLS

C
ASE tools turn traditional systems approaches upside down.
The set of software known as CASE – for computer-aided
software engineering – tools goes beyond the concept of
prototyping and has become a significant factor in the
development of systems. CASE tools provide an automated means
of designing and changing systems. In fact, integrated CASE tools
can automate most of the systems development life cycle.

CASE software is available for personal computers. The systems


analyst can produce designs right on the computer screen. Thus, a
key ingredient of a package of CASE tools is a graphics interface.
What is more, that screen is usually part of a personal computer.
Other important CASE ingredients are a data store – often called a
data dictionary or even an encyclopedia – and the ability to
generate a program automatically, right from the design.

CASE tools, however, are not cure-alls. To begin with, they really
only have value for new systems; an estimated 80 percent of
computer organization time is devoted to the maintenance of
existing systems. Also, CASE standards have not been established,
and the result is a hodgepodge of methodologies from a variety of
vendors. Keep in mind, also, that no CASE tool, or any other tool,
will help if you do not know what you are doing. Good tools do not
necessarily create good systems.

Data Dictionary
In the early 1970s system analysts realized that they needed more
systematic and logical methods of describing systems. The
proliferation of computers and the collection of large amounts of
information in databases often led to a great deal of confusion and
inconsistency.

For example, several different departments in a company might


collect the same type of data. When these databases were merged,
inconsistencies in style and content of data fields became obvious.
One department might put last names first on employee or
customer records, while another department entered first names
first. This made sorting and merging files very difficult. The problem
was further complicated by the number of reports generated by the
system and the number of online terminals that retrieved or
displayed information. Clearly what was needed was a more logical
Lesson 5: Software Specification Tools
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way if structuring data, this led to the development of the data


41 dictionary.

It is a composite collection of specifications about the nature of data and information. It is


repository of descriptions of the form, style, and content of data as well as of the methods that
will be used to process and report it.

The data dictionary is the foundation of structure systems analysis.


It provides the standards and uniform format by which all elements
or parts of a system are designed and coordinated. It places all
information in a structure or hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy is
the data element, the data element is the smallest unit of a data
that will be processed or become part of a record.

Examples of data elements include dates, employee names and


gross pay. Rules for editing information or length of a field for
example are characteristics maintained on the data elements within
a data dictionary. These data elements are used as a universal
guide throughout the system when information is referred or
processed. The data dictionary is much like a printed dictionary,
which provides standards for spelling, hyphenation and so forth.
Below data elements on the hierarchy are data records. A data
record is a collection of elements, such as names, addresses or
sequences of records, treated as a unit. This means that records will
be treated consistently throughout the system.

Next on the hierarchy are the data stores, data model entities and
data flows. Data store describes the files that hold data, data model
entities define what records and elements will be treated as a unit
and data flows specify pathways for moving information.

The dictionary may also include standard tables of codes or words


and their meanings, as well as alternative names or definitions.

For example, EMPLOYEE, NUMBER and SERIAL NUMBER might be


equated and both might reference an employee’s identification
number.

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Science Approach

ELEMENT EMS PART PRICE


Alternate Names EMS SELLING PRICE

Definition Price charged to the customer for


a part.

Input Picture 999.99


Output Picture 999.99
Edit Rules

Storage Type C
Characters left of decimal 3 Characters right of decimal 2
Prompt PRICE
Column Header PART PRICE
Short Header PRICE
Base or Derived D
Data Class AMOUNT
Source MASTER PRICE LIST
Default

Data
Dictionary
entry

This figure illustrates 42


an order entry system
data dictionary entry.
Documentation
Report Writer
Graphics

Screen Design
Entity List

XLDictionary Report Design


Graph Analysis
Data
dictionary
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overview
Management
Screen Data Screen Data
Reporting Entity
The dictionary is the
central repository XLDictionary
for all system data.
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The existence of a data dictionary unifies a system and develops


consistency. The dictionary can contain uniform screen displays or
standards output reports.

It provides a common denominator wherein all reports, data


gathering, processing, output functions, input screens and storage
files can be integrated.

Data Element

Data Record
Data
hierarchy

A data dictionary
places all
Data Model
information in a Data Stores Data Flows
Entity
hierarchical
structure.

For many decades, systems designers have relied upon various


traditional tools to illustrate the flow of information throughout a
system. These include Gantt Charts, Systems Flowcharts and
Decision Tables.

43
The Gantt Chart
In the early years of the century systems analysts were often called
efficiency experts. They sought to documents diagram systems so
they could improve operations. In 1914 one of these efficiency
experts Henry L. Gantt introduces a scheduling chart that later
became known as a Gantt Chart. It is a fundamental planning tool
of the analyst. Down the left-hand column are listed the tasks or
activities to be performed. The right-hand portion of the chart has
horizontal bars that show the duration of each activity. If a complex
task is broken down into several sub-tasks,

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The chart marks off time periods in days, weeks or months. Thus we
can see at a glance what activities are to be performed, when each
begins, and when each terminates. But much like a calendar the
Gantt Chart is based upon time intervals and does not show the
logical flow of information throughout a system. However, it
remains a useful tool for documenting systems work.

Planning
Problem Definition
System Analysis
Interviews
Direct Observation
System Design
Prototype Terminals
Output Design
File Design
System Development
Select Vendors
Train Staff
Gantt Prepare Documentation
CHART System Implementation
Changeover
The chart shows System Evaluation
when activities
begin
0 1 2and3 end.
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
TIME IN WEEKS/MONTHS

Decision Trees
Systems analysts are often faced with documenting complex
systems that involve making many decisions. The decision tree is a
tool that is particularly well suited for illustrating such systems. It is
read from left to right, showing decision to be made. Tasks such as
granting credit, approving a purchase or handling customer
complaints, which involve making decisions, can be illustrated on
this type of chart.

Decision trees sometimes include numbers that express the probability of an event at each
decision. One course of action may have a 30 percent probability of occurring and another 70
percent. By placing values at each juncture, an analyst can better assess the overall 44
probability of certain events taking place.
Air
Prepare How to Freight
Invoice Ship?
Truck
Goods in Customer
stock Yes Pickup
Manufacture Prepare
No Goods Invoice
Yes
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Decision Software Project
Management Raw Materials
tree No
Available?
Order Raw Manufacture
The tree is read Materials Goods
from left to right.
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Decision Tables
Systems Analysts often use a design diagram known as decision
table. Decision tables are charts in the form of matrices that
graphically display conditions, options and alternatives to be dealt
with when making business decisions. A decision table is composed
of several parts. The condition stub lists all possible conditions that
could arise in making a decision. The action stub lists all possible
actions that may be taken. The condition entry lists all possible
combinations of conditions that may occur and the action entry
describes what actions will be followed for each set of conditions.
The entry sections are lined off in vertical columns called rules.
Each rule specifies what actions are to be taken for each set of
conditions.

Decision
Condition
table Condition Entry
Stub
Parts of Decision
Table: Condition, Action Action
Stub, Condition Stub Entry
Entry, Action Stub
and Action Entry.
Figure above illustrates a decision table used in an order-processing
system. It defines the various ways to handle orders for items that
are low in stock. The analysts begins by completing the upper left
quadrant, the condition stub, listing a variety of conditions such as
supply out of stock, supply adequate and item discontinued. Next
the analyst completes the lower left quadrant, the action stub
listing the possible actions that may be taken. For instance a stock
pick order a purchase requisition or an invoice may be prepared.

Then the analyst prepares a group of rules. In our example there


are 17 rules indicating that 17 combinations of conditions can
occur. The rules are constructed with Yes and No marked in the
45 upper right quadrant of the decision table Y means that the
condition is present, N that the condition is absent and a blank that
the condition is not applicable. Each rule has a unique set of Y’s and
N’s.

The lower right section, the action entry is completed last. Action
entries define which actions will be taken in light of each rule. The
analyst enters an x, meaning that those actions are to be taken in
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every instance where a given set of conditions occur. To illustrate in


rule 1 a pick order is to be written and an invoice prepared
whenever there is an adequate supply of goods and the item is not
disconnected.

Decision tables enable the analyst to layout a complex variety of conditions and to specify
how each set of conditions should be handled. The rules developed in a decision table can be
used as a basis of procedures manual for employees, to teach them how to handle various
situations and to ensure consistent treatment. Decision tables are also used when designing
computer programs. They describe all possible options in a problem and the specifications
that the computer must execute for each set of conditions.

RULES
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Supply-adequate Y N N N N N N N N N N N N N N N N
Supply-below minimum N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Supply-out of stock N N N N N N N N N N N N N Y Y Y N
Item discontinued N N N N N N N N N N N N N N N Y
Purchase requisition made Y N Y N Y N Y N Y N Y N Y N
Old account Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N N N
Large order Y Y Y Y N N Y Y N N N N
Sale item N N Y Y Y Y N N
Write pick order X X X X X X X X
Made purchase requisition X X X X X X X
Cancel order X
Write order confirmation X X X X X X X X
Prepare invoice X X X X X X X X

Decision table
example

A decision table
that might be used
in an order-
processing system.

Decision tables have several advantages they lessen the possibility of omitting essential
elements and ensure that a given set of conditions will be handled consistently. They are
easier to understand than lengthy verbal descriptions of choices. As do other tools they
require the analyst to refine his/her thinking and to clarify details. The decision table cannot
be completed until the analyst has explicitly defined all the conditions and actions involved.

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Flowcharts
Flowcharts as punched cards and unit records equipment came into
use in 1940’s system designers found it necessary to describe and
define systems in mew ways. This led to the development of the
flowchart as a major means of documenting information flow. The
flowchart was widely used as a design tool until 1970s when it lost
popularity to some of the newer structured tools. 46
It is a graphical representation of the steps in the solution of a
problem, in which symbols represent operations, data flow,
hardware and the system plan. It can document either business
systems or computer programs.

System flowchart diagrams illustrate the movement of data in an


organization. They show the sequence of steps through which
information moves, including related personnel, workstations,
forms, records, processing, and associated activities.

The system analyst uses program flowcharts when working with


computer programs. Program flowcharts show the sequence of
steps performed in a computer program. System flowcharts
document the overall system, while program flowcharts deal with
the information flow through the computer. The American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved a standard set of symbols
for drawing these flowcharts.

Time
Cards

Verif
y
Time
Card

Enter Payroll
Transactions

Payroll
Master
File
Compute
Payroll Using
Computer

flowchart

A graphic
representation of
the information Print Payroll Print
flow in a Register Paychecks
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Structured Design Tools


Much experimentation and research has gone into developing new
graphic and visual tools for designing and documenting systems.
During the past decade these structure tools have become widely
47 used by analysts and are rapidly replacing the traditional design
tools, such as flowcharts and decision tables.
Structured design tools emphasize the visual or graphic nature of a
problem. It emphasizes the logical flow of information rather than
physical manipulation. Unstructured or traditional design tools
describe systems in terms of written narratives or sequential
diagrams that emphasize sequence and physical handling rather
than the logical flow throughout a system. They break systems
down into elements, known as modules. A module is one
component of a system.

Data Flow Diagrams


The data flow diagram is used as a system-modeling tool because
of its great utility. It is a graphical illustration that shows the flow of
data and logic within a system. Below is a data flow diagram
containing a group of symbols that are linked together with lines.

The shape of the symbol indicates to the analyst that a specific


operation is performed. The arrows that connect the symbols show
the direction in which data flows. Descriptive labels are usually
placed within each symbol or next to the connecting lines to further
describe the flow and transformation of data.

Data Flow
diagram

Symbols are
connected to show
the flow of data
through a system.
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The detail and complexity of a data flow diagram varies with the
system being described. As you work with systems, you will find
yourself continually relying upon diagrams such as these to show
points where data originates, is processed or transformed and is
output.

Data flow diagram is composed of four basic symbols. There are no


ANSI standards for data flow diagram symbols. One widely used
convention adheres to symbols developed by Edward Yourdon; a
similar notation has been developed by Chris Gane and Trish
Sarson. Yourdon uses a circle for a process while Gane and Sarson
use a rectangle with rounded corners. Yourdon’s data store symbol
is a rectangle open at each end. Gane and Sarson show a data store
as a rectangle closed at one end. We shall use the Gane and Sarson
notation in our examples. 48
External entity is a square box that specifies either the
External source or the destination of data. It shows where data
Entity originates outside s system or where it will be
transmitted after processing always outside the
system. It is sometimes called sources and sinks. A
source is a point outside the system that generates
data. A sink is a point outside the system that receives
data. Both are external entities drawn as square boxes.
Example: In a small retail establishments. Checks are received from customers and
orders come in the mail. These are sources. Bills are sent to customers, goods are
shipped with invoices, and reports are sent to government agencies. These are sinks.
These sources and sinks are common examples of external entities, because the
represent movement of data and information into and out of a system.

The process symbol is drawn as a rectangle


with rounded corners. It represents the
1.5
transformation or processing of information
Process within a system. The process symbol shows
those places in a system where calculations
are made or where information is changed in
character.

Examples of processing in our small retail example include computing payroll,


calculating profit and computing sums, such as in the preparation of a customer
invoice or bank deposit. The top of the process box is usually rule off, leaving space
to enter a reference number. The reference number is used to key more detailed data
flow diagrams to the box.

Data store is a point in a system


1.7
where information is permanently or
temporarily stored or held. It is shown as a rectangle with one end
open. The left side of the box may be ruled off to enter a reference
number, which keys the box to other diagrams. Data may be stored
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on filling cards, ledger sheets, floppy disks, or even on the check


stubs in a checkbook. While stored, the information remains intact
and is not changed or modified in any way.

Information flowlines, sometimes called pipes or


Flowline
vectors, connect external entities,
process and data store elements.
These lines always drawn with an arrowhead trace the flow of
information throughout the system. Information flow may be one-
way or two-way. One or two arrows are drawn between boxes to
show which way the information flows.

Context Diagrams
It is often helpful to illustrate systems using a broad-brush,
undifferentiated data flow figure known as a context diagram. The
context diagram shows the entire system as one general element. It
is the most overall view we can obtain of a system. All sources and
49 sinks of data are linked to this one entity, using flow lines or pipes.

The figure below shows a system used to process orders in a


manufacturing company. One process symbol, labeled “order
system” includes all steps in the process. External entities such as
customers, billing department and shipping department are
connected to the system. Note that the process symbol is drawn
using an approved shape; a rectangle with rounded corners and the
external entities are drawn using square-shaped symbols. Flow lines
or pipes connect each
1 element in the diagram and each is labeled
accordingly. Context diagrams are valuable because they show only
major items with a minimum of details that might confuse or cloud
the bird’s-eye view of the system.

Order
Customer
0
Context Bill Request Billing
Order Dept.
diagram System
2 2 2
This diagram shows Ship Request
Shipping
an order system in Dept.
its most generalized Ship Confirm

3 3 3 3
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3
Lesson 5: Software Specification Tools
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exploded
diagram

Each succeeding
level of the
diagram shows a 50
greater amount
Let’s put the concepts and symbols we have discussed to use and
see how a set of data flow diagrams are prepared. Suppose we are
designing a payroll system that will generate paychecks and tax
reports. We begin by drawing a context diagram of the system. The
entire system (Figure below) is shown in one symbol labeled
“Payroll System”. Connected to this process are the external
entities “Employees” and “Government”.

Time Cards
Employees
0 Paychecks
Employees
Payroll
System
Payroll
system
Reports
Context
diagram
Govern
ment
“Employees” and
“Government” are
Let us now refine the level of detail. The figure below illustrates a
level 1 diagram of the system. The employees’ time cards are
drawn as a source (external entity). Hours worked are verified
against information in the time card file. Computations of
employees’ salaries require accessing a tax table file. Tax reports
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will be prepared from the information provided by these


computations. The permanent record of the transaction is saved on
the check stub, shown as a data store. Preparing the paychecks as
a process step. Since the check leaves the system and is delivered
to the employee, it is shown as a sink (external entity). Flow lines
are drawn to connect the elements and show the flow of data.

Time Card 1.4 Tax Table File

1.0 1.1
1.2
Time Cards
Verify Compute Paychecks
Employee Prepare Employee
Hours Salary
Paycheck
Worked Deductions

Payroll
system
level 1 1.6
diagram Prepare Reports Governmen
Tax t Agency
51 The employees’
time cards are
1.5 Check Stub Reports

drawn as a source
Each process symbol can be broken down into lower levels of detail.
For federal income tax withholding and payments to credit unions.
This would result in one or more second-level diagrams, which could
be further, exploded to a third level of detail.

Hierarchy Plus Input-Process-Output (HIPO)


Hierarchy plus input-process-output (HIPO) diagrams were
developed by IBM Corp. in an attempt to provide programmers with
better structures tools for dealing with systems. HIPO (pronounced
1.0
hi-poe) diagrams consist of three distinct types:
Payroll
❑ Visual table of contents
Processing (VTOC)
❑ IPO overview diagram
❑ IPO detail diagram

These 1.1diagrams enable1.2 analysts to define 1.3 procedures and


operations
Compute in a hierarchical manner, correlating input, processing
and output
Federal steps with Employee
the integrated Compute
whole expressed in the visual
Paycheck State Taxes
table of contents.
Taxes
Program Program Program

1.1.1 1.3.1
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1.2.1 1.2.2 Software Project
Management State Report
Federal
Report Credit Write Program
Program Union Paycheck
Program Program
Lesson 5: Software Specification Tools
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Visual table
of contents
(VTOC)

The level of detail


increases from the
top to the bottom of

The chart above shows an hierarchy in which the level of detail


increases from the top of the chart to the bottom, moving from the
general to the specific. This is called top-down development. In our
figure the levels are coded with reference numbers. At the top of
the chart is the general level 1.0 module. Think of this as the
parent. Below the parent are the children, noted as levels 1.1, 1.2
etc. which further explode the detail of the preceding level. Still 52
lower levels of detail are marked 1.1.1, 1.1.2, etc.
The chart provides a hierarchical view of the problem, which is then
supported by two additional charts known as input-process-output
(IPO) (pronounced eye-poe) charts.

Program: Write Paycheck Reference No.: 1.2.2


Application: Payroll Processing Date: 6-21-88
Input-
process- Employee Name
Compute Gross
Output (IPO) Pay
Hours Worked
chart Compute Net Pay
Pay Rate
Paycheck
This chart Print Out Paycheck
Deductions
describes the
processing
activities for any Input Process Output
given module on
The IPO chart may be either general or specific in nature. A general sequence of steps is
known as an IPO overview diagram, while a detailed chart is called an IPO detailed
diagram. These charts are especially useful for programmers who must code a program. The
IPO chart is read from left to right. It describes the input, processing activities and output for
any given module on the VTOC.

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Structured English
Up to this point we have been dealing with diagrams that are visual
or pictorial in nature. To actually write a program for the steps
illustrated in an IPO chart or a data flow diagram, we must prepare
a detailed sequence of instructions in programming language.

Figure below illustrates a block of programming code. There is


obviously a major jump between a VTOC or data flow diagram and
the detailed commands required in a program.

Many systems analysts and programmers rely upon a form of


structures English, also known as pseudocode. Pseudocode
expresses language commands in an English-like form that greatly
facilitates programming. The structured English in figure above has
levels of indentation similar to the levels of detail found on the
VTOC. Pseudocode includes key words in capital letters that reflect
the major programming commands to be used when actually coding
the program.

Structured English is written in a terse sentence from resembling an outline. Steps in the
program are listed in sequence. Items are indented to show subordination. Once completed, a
set of pseudocode instructions provides an easy bridge to programming. It becomes a
communication tool used by both the programmer and the systems analyst.

IDENTIFICATION DIVISION
53 PROGRAM ID. LISTING1
ENVIRONMENT DIVISION
CONFIGURATION SECTION
SOURCE COMPUTER. CYBER-170-720
OBJECT COMPUTER. CYBER-170-720
SPECIAL-NAMES.
INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
FILE CONTROL.
SELECT IN-FILE ASSIGN TO INPUT
SELECT OUT-FILE ASSIGN TO OUTPUT.
DATA DIVISION.
FILE SECTION.
* DEFINE INPUT OF THE PROGRAM
FD IN-FILE
LABEL RECORDS ARE OMITTED.
1 RECORDS-IN PIC X (80).
* DEFINE OUTPUT OF THE PROGRAM.
FD OUT-FILE
LABEL RECORDS ARE OMITTED
1 RECORD-OUT.
02 FILLER PIC X (01).
02 DATA OUT PIC X (80).
PROCEDURE DIVISION.
LETS-GO
OPEN INPUT IN-FILE
OPEN OUTPUT OUT-FILE.
MOVE SPACES TO RECORD-OUT
WRITE RECORD-OUT AFTER PAGE.
READ-AND-WRITE.
Cobol
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Management

This code is typical


of high-level
Lesson 5: Software Specification Tools
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READ IN-FILE AT END GO TO CLOSE-UP.


MOVE RECORD-IN TO DATA-OUT.
WRITE RECORD-OUT AFTER 1.
GO TO READ-AND-WRITE.
CLOSE UP
CLOSE IN-FILE, OUT-FILE.
STOP RUN

Prepare invoice record


READ name, account number, cost, balance
IF balance = 0
THEN
skip to next invoice
ELSE
compute selling price
price = cost *.25
ENDIF
IF balance = 10.00
THEN
pseudocode
Print out invoice
ELSE
Pseudocode
Go to next record
expresses language
ENDIF
commands in a
Increment invoice counter
structured English-
End
like form..

54
Warnier-Orr Diagrams
Programmers and systems analysts sometimes use another form of
design diagram known as Warnier-Orr diagram. Named for its
creator, Jean Dominique Warnier and Ken Orr, who further
developed it, the diagram resembles a visual table of contents
placed on its side.

Compute State Report


State Taxes Program
Program
Write
Employee Paycheck
Warnier-orr Payroll Processing Paycheck Program
diagram Program
Credit Union
Program
Brackets define
where each Compute Federal
subroutine relates Federal Taxes Report
to the next higher Program Program
The major or general modules are listed at the left of the page,
while the right shows the detailed modules. Brackets define where
each subroutines or module relates to the next higher level.
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Many analysts prefer the Warnier-Orr diagram over the VTOC because the Warniier-Orr
chart can be drawn without templates or artists’ instruments and shows at a glance each level
in the hierarchy.

Nassi-Shneiderman Charts
In the early 1970s, Isaac Nassi and Ben Shneiderman developed a
form of programming chart that closely resembles the control
structures used by programmers.

Input Payroll Data

Input Deductions

Hourly or Salary?

Hourly Salary

Compute Hourly Compute Monthly


Gross Pay Gross Pay

55 Compute Payroll Taxes

Credit Union
Deductions?
NASSI- Yes No
SHNEIDERMAN Compute Net Pay less
Credit Union Deductions Compute Net Pay
CHART
Print Out Paycheck
This type of chart
clearly illustrates
program logic
The Nassi-Shneiderman chart shown below describes the data flow through a computer
program. Analysts and programmers use these charts, sometimes known as structured
flowhcharts, because they clearly show the logic in a program.

EXERCISES
1. Describe how adding personnel to a project that is behind
schedule might make the project completion date even later.

2. For each of the risk management plan suggested by Boehm with


the top ten risk, explain how these suggested risk management
help in defining the solution to the risk.

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3. Even on your student projects, there are significant risks to your


finishing your project on time. Analyze a student software
development project and list the risks. What is the risk
exposure? What techniques can you use to lessen each risk?

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