Defining Systems Analysis & Requirements
The objectives of this lecture include defining systems analysis and systems requirements; identify information-gathering channels, examining diagramming tools and identifying alternative methodologies to the classic systems development life cycle.
When analyzing an existing information system application to be redesigned or a new information system to be developed, the objective is to understand the various components that will make up the system. There are a number of information channels available to the analyst studying the information system. These information-gathering channels can aid the process of systems analysis while determining the system requirements. Some of the must useful information-gathering channels include but are not limited to documentation, interviews, observation, questionnaires, and statistical measurements. Gathering information via documentation can take many different forms. One form of gathering information via documentation is to review the history of the current information systems project or the business problem to be addressed if there is not an existing information system. This can be accomplished by reading prior project correspondence files, system documentation, project documentation, internal and external communications.
By reading the documentation, the analyst would be able to discover the concepts related to the current system or project, the proposed architecture, design components, technical features, and project approach. During this process of discovery, the analyst would also gain a view into the primary players involved in the project or information system, the political considerations, the factors important to the project success, factors that may have contributed to the project failure, and the disposition of the current project or information system at the time the project was brought to conclusion. This documentation can be found in a number of places such as project manager files, departmental correspondence, project files, project status reports, correspondence to vendors and or consultants and existing technical documents such as process flow designs, network diagrams, data definitions, program designs, and so forth.
Gathering information by means of interviewing can be rewarding by getting to know some of the key personnel associated with a system. The interviews should be scheduled at least 24 - 72 hours in advance as a courtesy for the person to be interviewed. The analyst will need to let the person who will be conducting the interview and what will be discussed. Whenever possible, it is recommended to send the person an agenda or an outline of what topics to be discussed during the interview. The content of the interview will depend on the person's relationship to the system being analyzed. One important protocol consideration is securing permission to speak with employees in user departments who currently use the system or who will be using the new system.
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The analyst will need to conduct an interview with the manager or director of a department in which the users reside. When the manager is interviewed, the analysis can obtain permission to interview employees in the department. In many cases, the manager or director will identify the employees that need to be interviewed and can usually provide a personal introduction so the employee will meet the analyst and understand the purpose of the interview. If during the course of the interviews, the analyst comes across the name of another employee who might need to be interviewed, the analyst should check with the manager before conducting any new interviews.
It is possible there will be some differences of opinion between the employees and their manager as to what is needed in a new system or what problems exist in the current system. Sometimes the differences are due to lack of detailed…