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Ais Strategies

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21.1 What is the accountant’s role in the computer acquisition process? Should the accountant play an active role, or should all the work be left to computer experts? In what aspects of computer acquisition might an accountant provide a useful contribution?

The accountant is likely to be:
• A major user of the computer output
• Responsible for internal controls over data processing in the organization
• An expert in cost estimation and analysis
• A designer of many of the systems that the computer is intended to supplant.

With these responsibilities, the accountant must be actively involved in the computer acquisition process. The accountant's role is probably best carried out by participating on a team or committee together with computer experts, systems analysts, production personnel, engineers, managers, and others whose functions are closely related to the information systems activity. 21.2 In a Midwest city of 45,000, a computer was purchased and in-house programmers began developing programs. Four years later, only one incomplete and poorly functioning application had been developed, none of software met users’ minimum requirements, and the hardware and the software frequently failed. Why do you think the city was unable to produce quality, workable software? Would the city have been better off purchasing software? Could the city have found software that met its needs? Why or why not?

Certainly not all instances of use or failure to use packaged software are as dramatic or as clear-cut as this. Nor in all cases will packaged software meet the functional requirements at a reasonable cost in an acceptable time frame. A careful evaluation of packaged software, however, can result in a system that performs admirably and cost effectively for data...

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