Input Controls When we talk about input controls, what are we really talking about? Input control includes the necessary measures to ensure that data is correct, complete, and secure. A system analyst must focus on input control during every phrase of input design, starting with source documents that promote data accuracy and quality. (Shelly & Rosenblatt, (2012)).
Input controls can help the flow of data in a database to be the same format and easy to understand. Without input controls there can be data integrity errors that could occur and cause information to be incorrect in the database.
There are advantages and disadvantages to restricting user interfaces to limit a person ability of typing in too much information or maybe not enough information. Although there are many different types of input controls in this paper there will be only four of them that are addressed in this paper; this would include input mask, validation rules, source documents and batch input. First let’s talk about input mask. Input mask is an appearance that helps to characterize what type of contact is allowed in a given field on a template.
The main purpose behind the input mask is to keep the data entry process somewhat the same and decrease the chances for incorrect data to be entered into the field. The input field entry can be configured to allow automatic field input as a way of saving time and resources. Input mask is created doing the process of computer programming. The fields on the template are recognized with specific control values. The values make it impossible to enter data that is not compatible with the values.
An example of that would be when a field that contains an input mask that only allows letters will automatically reject the input of numbers and another one would be automatically converting the input into an adequate format an example of that would be when the input mask requires that the date field on the template specifies a format that is structured as date/month/year. Even if you enter the date into the field follows a month/date/year format, the input system reads the entered data and automatically converts it into the proper form.
Input mask is a type of tool which had been developed for the purpose of telling the person that what sort of things need to be provided as an input so that the desired output can be achieved. The input mask basically acts as developer software. The text box is the tool where the input needs to be entered. The input mask can also act as a template or a simple format and this basically differs from situation to situation. In this transcription errors are the one which needs to be reduced and this is done through the way of data integrity which is one of the most basic features of the input mask.
Validation rule is a criterion used in the process of data validation, carried out after the data has been encoded onto an input medium and involves a data vet or validation program. This is distinct from formal verification, where the operation of a program is determined to be that which was intended, and that meets the purpose. This method is to check that data fall the correct parameters defined by the systems analyst. A judgment as to whether data is official which is possible made by the validation program, but it cannot ensure the entire accurateness.
This can only be achieved through the use of all the clerical and computer controls built into the system at the design stage. The difference between data authority and correctness can be illustrated with a trivial example. An example of validations rules is when a user cannot misspell a customer name if it is not entered, or is entered automatically based on the user enter the customer ID. (Shelly & Rosenblatt, (2012)). There are at least eight different types of data validation rules; a sequence check, existence check, data type check, range check, reasonableness check, validity check, combination check and batch controls.
Source documents is a form used to request and collect input data, trigger or authorize an input action, and provide a record of the original transaction. Source documents generally are paper based. Some examples of source documents would be cash receipt, cancelled check, invoice sent or received, credit memo for a customer refund and employee time sheet. At a bare minimum, each source document should include the date, the amount, and a description of the transaction. When practical, beyond these minimum requirements source documents should contain the name and address of the other party of the transaction.
When a source document does not exist, for example, when a cash receipt is not provided by a vendor or is absent, a document should be generated as soon as possible after the operation, using other documents such as bank statements to support the information on the generated source document. Once a transaction has been journalized, the source document should be filed and made retrievable so that connections can be verified should the need arise at a later date. Batch input is a process when data entry is performed on a specified time schedule, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or longer.
An example of this would be when a payroll department collects time cards at the end of the week and enters the data as a batch. Some advantages of batch input are collection and entering can be done off-line, entering data can be done by trained personnel, processing can be done very quickly and can be done during non-peak times. Now for some of the disadvantages are, data collection usually has to be a centralized activity, data entry usually needs to be done by specially trained personnel. The processing activity is delayed; hence the possibility exists for data to be considered old or untimely when it finally gets processed.
Since processing is usually done during off-hours, input errors detected during processing would not get corrected until the next regularly scheduled processing of input data. The off-hours computer operator may have to call the systems analyst or programmer if the program malfunctions. Below you will see a design for a web-based input for making a hotel reservation which will be using many of the concepts that are mentioned in the paper when talking about input controls. We will look at it in phases. Information gathering Phase 1 – Search and evaluation
Input stay requirements – including location (city) and proposed dates of stay Compare and evaluate results – user may view multiple hotel / room / rate combinations Decide – user decides which hotel / room / rate combination meets their requirements Reservation making Phase 2 – Selection Select hotel, room and rate – the user selects the hotel / room / rate they wish to book Select additional rooms and rates – the user adds additional rooms if required Phase 3 – Checkout Input guest details – such as name, address, email address etc. Input payment details – such as credit card details or other payment method Confirm reservation
Standard booking processes Screen 1Screen 2Screen 3 Screen 2 Screen 3 Enter search criteria: • Dates • City name [SUBMIT] Display hotels: Hotel 1 [SELECT] Hotel 2 [SELECT] Hotel 3 [SELECT] Display and select rates: Hotel 1 Rate 1 [SELECT] Rate 2 [SELECT] Rate 3 Figure 1: Three-stage screen flow Figure 2: Selection of hotel – ‘Screen 2’ example from Opodo. co. uk Figure 3: Selection of rate – ‘Screen 3’ example from Trip. com Screen 1Screen 2 Enter search criteria: • City • Dates [SUBMIT] Display hotels: Hotel 1 Rate 1 [SELECT] Rate 2 [SELECT] Rate 3 [SELECT] Hotel 2
Rate 1 [SELECT] Rate 2 [SELECT] Rate 3 [SELECT] Hotel 3 Rate 1 [SELECT] Rate 2 [SELECT] Rate 3 [SELECT] Figure 4: Two-stage screen flow Figure 5: Selection of rate and hotel – ‘Screen 2’ example from Expedia. co. uk TABLE 1: Search and evaluation styles Search and evaluation style Travel agency Hotel only Hotel chain Total A Select hotel on screen 2 Select rate on screen 3 10 13 6 29 B Select hotel and rate together on one screen 6 17 2 25 Other -132033 Table 1 demonstrates that for travel agencies and hotel-only websites, there is an even split between using style A and style B.
The table also shows that hotel chains generally use other search and evaluation styles. References Amas. syr. edu. 8 Dec 2011. Application Self Evaluation. Retrieved 9 Feb 2012 from http://amas. syr. edu/AMAS/display. cfm? content_ID=%23%28%28%25! %0A Noyes, Brian. 2010 June. Enforcing Complex Business Data Rules with WPF. Retrieved on 9 Feb 2012 from http://msdn. microsoft. com/en-us/magazine/ff714593. aspx Shelly, G. B. , & Rosenblatt, H. J. (2012). System Analysis and Design (9th ed. ). Boston: Thomson Course Technology.