Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan: A Database Design Case

By Sankaran, Siva; Wedel, Thomas L. | Journal of Information Systems Education, Spring 2020 | Go to article overview

Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan: A Database Design Case


Sankaran, Siva, Wedel, Thomas L., Journal of Information Systems Education


1. INTRODUCTION

Case studies that realistically reflect the intricate data processing requirements encountered in businesses are essential in teaching systems analysis and database design courses. A common hurdle instructors face is the selection of case studies that provide realistic and challenging specifications as well as yield appropriate learning experiences for the students without being excessively complex. It is also beneficial if the case scenario is of interest to students. This case focuses on the design of an information system that supports the operations of the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan (MPIPP) that provides pension administration services for the unionized employees in the movie and TV industries. Although this case assignment accurately reflects the bulk of the requirements found within the MPIPP's application, some system requirements and operations have been either excluded or simplified to make the case more manageable for a classroom environment.

Students need to master the practice skills necessary to develop data flow diagrams, data modeling, and normalized data design that replicate real world conditions such as found at the MPIPP.

The case objectives are to: i) reinforce theory learned in a systems analysis and design course with simulated experience using real world user settings, ii) enhance student skills in recognizing end-user requirements and to develop data flow and entity relationship diagrams, and iii) provide practice experience in building a data dictionary, drawing a system flowchart, and writing samples of pseudo-code in Structured English.

2. ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND

The collective bargaining agreement establishing the MPIPP was signed on October 26, 1953, by various employers in the motion picture and allied industries and over 40 unions and guilds representing employees working in this industry. MPIPP was created to provide retirement benefits for entertainment-based union craft people other than actors, directors, musicians, or writers who already were receiving such benefits through the various entertainment guilds, e.g., Screen Actors Guild. MPIPP's Department of Labor Form 5500 filed for 2017 lists $3.8 billion in assets with 87,147 participants of which 15,933 are currently receiving retirement benefits.

An agreement establishing the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan (MPIHP) had previously been signed in October 1952. MPIHP was created to provide health insurance coverage for the same union members that MPIPP covers. Although the two Plans merged in 1990 and are collectively known as the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans, they remain two separate legal entities that share occupancy at their headquarters in Studio City, CA. The Plans are governed by two separate Boards of Directors appointed in equal number by the participating unions and industry employers (https://mpiphp.org/home/aboutmpi). Although MPIPP and MPIPH share a common database, the scope of this case is limited to MPIPP's requirements so that it is suitable for a teaching case and not overly arduous.

The union members that are participants in MPIPP include most of the behind-the-scene workers involved in film and television development. Their names and job titles appear in the credits shown at the end of movies and TV shows and include such curious occupations as: gaffer (the head electrician), best boy (chief assistant to the gaffer), boom operator (handler of the long pole with a microphone attached to the end), key grip (person in charge of maintenance and positioning of equipment on a set), dolly grip (grip responsible for positioning the small truck that rolls along tracks and carries the camera, camera technician, and occasionally the director), property master (person responsible for purchasing/acquiring all the props used during production), wrangler (animal handler), and foley artist (creator of incidental noises such as footsteps) (https://www. …

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