Any ramblings and blog posts associated with the UNISA ICT 2621 tag should be considered study notes for my lectures...
Objectives of Chapter 1
- Explain the key role of a system analyst in business.
- Describe the various types of system and technology an analyst might use.
- Explain the importance of technical skills, people skills and business skills for an analyst.
- Explain why ethical behaviour is crucial for a system analyst’s career.
- Describe various job titles in the field and places of employment where analysis and design work is done.
- Discuss the analyst's role in strategic planning for an organization.
- Describe the analyst’s role in systems development projects.
Let me just say before I go into these notes that I find subjects like these extremely amusing & frustrating because of the disparity between the theoretical and the actual implementations in the “working world”. That being said, passing this course is a requirement for my degree.
Key Words & Definitions for the Chapter
- System Analysis – the process of understanding and specifying in detail what the information system should accomplish
- System Design – the process of specifying in detail how the many components of the information system should be physically implemented.
- System Analyst – a business professional who uses analysis and design techniques to solve business problems using information system.
- Information System – a collection of interrelated components that collect, process, store, and provide as output the information needed to complete the business tasks.
- System – a collection of interrelated components that function together to achieve some outcome.
- Subsystem – a system that is part of a larger system.
- Functional Decomposition – dividing a system into components based on subsystems that are further divided into smaller subsystems.
- System Boundary – the separation between a system and its environment that inputs and outputs must cross.
- Automation Boundary – the separation between the automated part of a system and the manual part of a system.
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – a system that supports marketing, sales, and service operations involving direct and indirect customer interaction.
- SCM (Supply Chain Management) – a system that seamlessly integrates product development, product acquisition, manufacturing, and inventory management.
- AFM (Accounting & Financial Management) – a system that records accounting information needed to produce financial statements and other reports used by investors and creditors.
- HRM (Human Resource Management) – a system that supports employee-related tasks such as payroll, benefits, hiring, and training.
- Manufacturing Management System – a system that controls internal production processes that turn raw materials into finished goods.
- Knowledge Management System – a system that supports the storage of and access to documents from all parts of the organization.
- Collaboration Support System – a system that enabled geographically distributed personnel to collaborate on projects and tasks.
- Business Intelligence System – a system that supports strategic planning and executive decision making.
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) – a process in which an organization commits to using an integrated set of software packages for key information systems.
- Database – a centrally managed collection of data that is accessible to many users and systems at the same time.
- Tools – software products used to help develop analysis and design specifications and completed system components.
- Techniques – strategies for completing specific system development activities.
- Soft Skills – skills in nontechnical areas such as interviewing, team management, and leadership.
- Hard Skills – skills in technical areas such as database design, programming, and telecommunications.
- Strategic Planning – a process during which executives try to answer questions about the company, such as where the business is now, where they want to be, and what they have to do to get there.
- Information Systems Strategic Planning – the plan during the technology and applications that the information systems function needs to support the organization’s strategic plan.
- Business Process Reengineering – a technique that seeks to alter the nature of the work done in a business function, with the objective of radically improving performance.
- Application Architecture Plan - a description of the integrated information systems that the organization needs to carry out its business functions.
- Technology Architecture Plan – a description of the hardware, software, and communications networks required to implement planned information systems.
The Analyst as a Business Problem Solver
System analysis and design focuses on understanding the business problem and underlining the approach to be taken to solve it.
The challenge of the analyst is to select the best solution with the fewest risks and most benefits.
A system analyst can best be described as someone who uses information technology to solve business problems.
A typical decision process followed is outlined below…
Systems that Solve Business Problems
One can divide a system into many subsystems, which in return can be further divided into subsystems. This approach of dividing a system into components is referred to as functional decomposition.
Every system has a boundary between it and its environment. Any inputs and outputs must cross the system boundary.
In my experience it has been at the system boundary where the most challenges occur in system development
The automation boundary is the boundary between automated systems and humans. On one side of the boundary are the humans, on the other side are the other systems.
Required Skills of the Systems Analyst
System analysts require several skills including…
- Understanding how to build information systems (Technical Knowledge / Technical Skills)
- Understanding the business (Business Knowledge / Business Skills)
- Understanding people (People Knowledge / People Skills)
A system analyst should understand the fundamentals of the following technical skills
- Computers and how they work
- File, database, and storage hardware and software
- Input and output hardware and software
- Computer networks & protocols
- Programming languages, operating systems, and utilities
- Communication and collaboration technology such as digital telephones, video conferencing and web based document management systems.
A system analyst needs to know a lot about tools & techniques for developing systems including…
- Software packages such as Intuit Quickbooks (Accounting), Microsoft Access (DB), and Adobe Dreamweaver (Design),
- Integrated Development IDE’s such as Oracle JDeveloper and Microsoft Visual Studio.
- Computer-aided visual modeling tools such as Rational XDE Modeler, Visible Analyst & Embarcadero Describe
- Automated testing tools, configuration management tools, software library management tools, etc.
Techniques are strategies for completing specific system development activities. some examples of techniques include…
- Project planning techniques
- Cost/benefit analysis techniques
- Interviewing techniques
- Requirements modeling techniques
- Architectural design techniques
- Network configuration techniques
- Database design techniques
The analyst will also need to have business knowledge & business skills. Some examples of this include…
- What business functions do organizations perform
- How are organizations managed
- What type of work goes on in organizations
The more an analyst knows about how an organization works, the more effective he can be
Analysis Related Careers
There are many career opportunities, a few that were mentioned in the book include…
- Sales & support of ERP Software
- Business analysts for user organizations
- Auditing, compliance, and security
- Web development
There are many job titles that might describe an analyst, a few that were mentioned in the book include…
- Programmer analyst
- Business systems analyst
- System liaison
- End-user analyst
- Business consultant
- Systems consultant
- Systems support analyst
- Systems designer
- Software engineer
- System architect
- Web architect
- Web developer
The Analysts Role in Strategic Planning
An analyst is usually involved in strategic planning. They can be called to assist in special projects with executives or to help implement the application architecture plan. In an ideal world, a comprehensive information system planning project would solve all of the problems that information systems managers face, however because the world is continually changing, plans are continually being changed and evaluated.
The Analyst as a System Developer
In this chapter we covered many different aspects of a system analyst, however…
The main job of an analyst is working on specific information systems development projects. The remaining texts of the book will cover the following…
- Part 1 – The System Analyst
- Part 2 – System Analysis Tasks
- Part 3 – System Design Tasks
- Part 4 – Implementation and Support