Monday, June 09, 2008

June 16, 2008


Before tackling any type of change to a system, be it substantial or seemingly insignificant, it is important to take stock of the various components involved and how they affect others. To do so, the technique of "Impact Analysis" is used to study the relationship between information resources. To illustrate:

  • If the length of a data element is to be modified, an analysis must be performed to identify the windows, panels, maps, records, files, inputs, outputs, modules, programs, etc. affected.

  • If a single report or screen needs to be changed, an analysis is required to identify the programs and procedures affected.

  • If a software module is revised, the related programs and data structures must be identified.

Without such knowledge, changes will be awkward at best to implement. Something will inevitably be forgotten or overlooked, thereby causing the system to come to a standstill or produce erroneous results.

To implement "Impact Analysis" you have to first understand the concept of "bill-of-materials" and how to implement it. In a nutshell, a "bill-of-materials" is an itemized listing of parts in a product and their relationships. In reality, the concept is probably as old as manufacturing itself and should be familiar to any consumer who has had to reference a warranty booklet to fix such things as lawn mowers, dish washers, washing machines, etc. In such booklets, a schematic is used to illustrate the various parts and how they are connected; this is the "bill-of-materials." But this same simple concept can also be applied to systems to show the relationship of such things as systems, sub-systems, procedures, programs, modules, inputs, outputs, files, records, data elements, etc. However, what is needed to control and track such components is something a little more sophisticated than a simple schematic, after all, the average system will consist of hundreds, if not thousands of components. Instead, a "bill-of-materials processor" is needed to catalog and cross-reference the various components. Fortunately, this is hardly a new concept and has been implemented for many years using such things as data dictionaries or IRM Repositories. Such tools can perform "Impact Analysis" automatically. As an example...

A college in the US Midwest was notified by its bank that they wanted to change the "Bank Code" from a 14 digit to a 16 digit identifier. Offhand, it didn't sound like a big problem, but to be safe, the college ran an "Impact Analysis" on "Bank Code" and discovered the data element was used in several systems and programs and in order to accommodate the change, the college would have to spend thousands of dollars to implement it. They then went back to the bank and told them that their proposal was unacceptable and they would have to continue to supply them with a 14 digit identifier. Had the college not studied the problem through "Impact Analysis" their systems would have crashed and caused them to pay a lot of money to remedy the resulting chaos.

Regardless of the available technology, today's developers typically do not perform "Impact Analysis" and, instead, prefer to rewrite whole systems. This is one reason why companies constantly find themselves in a maintenance mode as opposed to introducing major improvements to their systems. If companies had the discipline to use such things as IRM Repositories, they could greatly expedite the implementation of changes and at considerably less expense. All it requires is a little discipline and a heck of a lot of common sense.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Keep the faith!

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...

"If anything in life is constant, it is change."


Friends, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Bonnie Wooding, the President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said, "Many of our members are just starting their careers and I will be recommending that they read this book, especially Chapter 3, Professional Development - a primer for business skills and filled with basic common sense advice that is simple, easy to follow and extraordinarily practical; and Chapter 5, Do’s and Don’ts of the Workplace, an excellent resource for those questions you are too embarrassed to ask for fear of looking foolish."

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4


I took some time off during the Memorial Day weekend and escaped to the beach. I guess I'm like just about anyone in that I rarely take advantage of the scenery in your own backyard. It's been a while since I've been to the beach and I found the rhythm of the waves in the morning tranquil and somewhat therapeutic. However, I had forgotten about all of the pollution on the beach, eye pollution that is. I was amazed how many women of all sizes and shapes wore a bikini and probably 99% of those I saw shouldn't. Please don't get me wrong, there is certainly nothing wrong with an attractive woman wearing a bikini, but most of what I saw defied belief. Sure, if you've got it flaunt it, but if you haven't got it, forget it. The ship has sailed and it's time to put on a little more canvas in the rigging.

I find women over 40 wearing bikinis to be interesting, particularly those in their 50's and 60's. I don't know what they're advertising but I suspect they're not getting many buyers.

I don't mean to appear to pick on the ladies exclusively as there are of course men out there who wear some pretty avant-garde bathing suits as well, but the volume of bikinis I saw on this trip seemed to be overwhelming.

I guess I should be grateful that we're past the thong fad as you don't see too many of them anymore on the beach. I've seen my share of thongs over the years and it can be pretty scary to see some women wearing them, as well as men. As my son would say, "That's just not right."

My wife and I went to the beach with another couple. We arrived early to get a good spot where we could setup our chairs and relax. As this was Memorial Day, the beach naturally started to fill up and become somewhat crowded. I find it interesting how some people have no problem invading your space by plopping down right next to you while there is still ample space elsewhere. It's as if you were invisible. To combat this problem, my friend and I have learned a long time ago to smoke some particularly nasty smelling cigars which acts like a repellent for crowd control. This results in a comfort zone around us but inevitably as soon as the cigars go out, the intruders move back in which, of course, is our queue to leave the beach until the next major holiday.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.

Also, if you happen to be in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, be sure to stop by and check out our new Palm Harbor Business OASIS, a new business venue offering local business people a place to meet, work, network, and relax. Why pay a lot for leasing office space when you can become a member of the OASIS for as little as $100/month? For more information, visit our web site at:


I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Sucker Bets":

An I.L. in Kansas City, Missouri wrote...

"Years ago I developed a strategy for gambling that has saved me a lot of money. To wit, I gamble only in Las Vegas AND I only gamble $100 per visit. Once my $100 is gone Las Vegas gets no more of my money through gambling."

A J.G. in Pampa, Texas wrote...

"I find the best way to save money in gambling is to not do it at all." *shrug*

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Walmart":

An E.B. in Chicago, Illinois wrote...

"I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart. Sorry, I just will not buy there. But you are right, thousands go there, and now they are just like Walgreens, they are everywhere. I sometimes go with a pal. But me, no thanks, I will shop elsewhere. As for the crowd, you are correct. You see a lot of different dress, and hear a lot of strange things. Children run amuck, and the perfunctory screaming their name follows. I just do not care to shop there. To each his own."

Again, thanks for your comments. For these and other comments, please visit my "Bryce is Right!" web site.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2008 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."




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