Systems analysis and design, as performed by systems analyst, seeks to understand what humans need to analyze data input or data flow systematically, process or transform data, store data, and output information in the context of a particular organization or enterprise. By doing thorough analysis, analyst seek to identify and solve the right problems. Furthermore, systems analysis and design is used to analyze, design, and implement improvements in the support of users and the functioning of business that can be accomplished through the use of computerized information systems (Kendall & Kendall, 2010).
The system analyst has played an important role in designing and implementing information systems (Kwon, 2005). Systems analysts study business problems and opportunities and then transform business and information requirements of the business into the computer-based information systems and computer applications that are implemented by various technical specialist including computer programmers. System analysts are people who understand both business and computing (Kendall & Kendall, 2010).
According to Mark & David (n.d) the definition of system analyst is, “ A system analyst is a problem-solving specialist who works with users and management to gather and analyze information on current and/ or future computer-based systems. With this information, the systems analyst, working with other I/S personnel, defines the requirements that are used to modify an existing system, or to develop a new system. The systems analyst identifies and evaluates alternative solutions, makes formal presentations, and assists in directing the coding, testing, training, conversion, and maintenance of the proposed system”.
Research by Kwon (2005) indicates that the fortune 500 expect their systems analyst to become all-round athletes who play every corner of the field. The research was conducted to understand the most up-to-date requirements for systems analyst by analyzing job ads posted on the corporate websites of Fortune 500 organizations. 902 job ads from 230 different organizations were collected to research (Kwon, 2005). The basic analysis was performed to see requirements, such as education and professional certification. 78% of ads collected specified the requirements that should be met by their potential candidates (Kwon, 2005). Table 6 shows, out of 706 ads, 691 of those ads were looking for people who held at least a bachelor’s degree. Small numbers of ads were looking for high school and associate degree holders. TABLE 6
Education| Number of Ads|
High School| 16|
Note. ANALYSIS OF SKILL REQUIREMNTS FOR SYSTEMS ANALYSTS IN FORTUNE 500 ORGANIZATIONS by Kwon, 2005, Journal Of Computer Information Systems, 45(4), 84-92
Skills Needed for System analyst
According to Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz (1983),” In today’s business environment, a systems analyst needs to be much more than a computer specialist. The skills required to design and implement an effective system are not fully recognized by business nor by the analyst himself. Those analyst that have been successful have learned their skills more by trail and error than by any other means. Unfortunately, trial and error learning requires years of on-the-job training. With today’s demand for qualified analyst, industry cannot afford to rely on experience as their teacher”. Note. Analysis of skills Requirement for Entry-Level Programmer/Analyst in Fortune 500 Corporations by Lee & Han, 2008, Journal Of Information Systems Education, 19(1), 17-28.
The paper by Lee & Han (2008) indicates the most up-to-date skill requirements for programmer / analyst. They conducted an extensive empirical study on programmer/analyst requirements by collecting and analyzing 837 job ads posted on fortune corporate websites between 2005 and 2008 (Lee & Han, 2008). In Table 5, each of the specific skills was calculated by counting the number of ads that mentioned the skill at least once.
Problem Analyzing and Solving Skills
Despite technological advances that have increased the number and quality of tools available to systems analyst, the individual analyst’s problem solving skills remain key to defining good systems requirements (Schenk, Vitalari & Davis, 1998). Problem solving approach usually incorporates the following general steps. * Identify the problem
* Analyze and understand the problems
* Identify alternative solutions and select the best solution The Characteristics of the analysis task domain itself led us to adopt a problem-solving perspective (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983). The characteristics of the analysis task domain are: 1. Analysis problems, at their inception, have ill-defined boundaries, structure, and a sufficient degree of uncertainty about the nature and make-up of the solution (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983) 2. The solutions to analysis problems are artificial, i.e. they are designed and hence many potential solutions exist for any one problem (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983) 3. Analysis problems are dynamic.
That means, they change while they are being solved because of their organizational context and the multiple participants involved in the definition and specification process. 4. Solutions to analysis problems require interdisciplinary knowledge and skill (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983) 5. The knowledge base of the systems analyst is continually evolving and the analyst must be ready to incorporate changes in the technology and to participate with users in different ways (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983) 6. The process of analysis, itself, is primarily cognitive in nature, requiring the analyst to structure an abstract problem, process diverse information, and develop a logical and internally consistent functional set of specifications. All the other skills such as interpersonal interaction and organizational skill facilitate this cognitive process (Vitalari, Dickson & Schwartz, 1983)
Systems analysts are almost always members of project teams and are frequently asked to lead teams. Management skills are very useful for anyone in a leadership role (Dixit, 2007). Four management skills are as follows 1. Resource Management: Any organizational worker must know how to obtain and work effectively with organizational resources. A systems analyst must know how to get the most out of a wide range of resources: system documentation, information technology, and money (Dixit, 2007). Resource management includes the capabilities as
– Tracking and accounting for resource consumption
– Evaluating the quality of resources used
-Learning how to use resources effectively.
2. Project Management: An information systems project can only be successful with intense interaction amongst project manger, system analyst, system designers and the end users (Philip, Afolabi, Adeniran Oluwatolani & Ishaya , 2010). The goal of project management is to prevent projects from coming in late and going over budget (Dixit, 2007)
Note. Towards an Efficient
Information Systems Development Process and Management: A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies by Philip, Afolabi, Adeniran Oluwatolani & Ishaya , 2010, Communications & Network, 2(4), 983-989
3. Risk Management: A formal system of risk identification and management is fundamental to controlling risk to acceptable levels. A well-designed risk management system describes operational process across departmental and agency boundaries, identifies key performance indicators and regularly measures them, methodically assesses risk, and exercises controls to mitigate risk (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2010). Once risks to project have been identified, a system analyst must be able to minimize the likelihood that those risks will actually occur. If minimizing risk is not possible, the system analyst tries to minimize the damage that might result (Dixit, 2007) 4. Change Management: Change management is a very important skill for systems analyst, who is organizational change agents. They must know how to get people to make a smooth transition from one information system to another, giving up their old ways of doing things and accepting new ways. Change management also includes the ability to deal with technical issues related to change, such as obsolescence (Dixit, 2007)
Interpersonal, technical, and communication skills
Note. The skills needed by today’s systems analyst by Misic, 1996, Journal Of Systems Management, 47(3), 34.
Interpersonal skills associated with people skills needed to interact with individuals associated with an IS project (Lerouge, Newton & Blanton, 2005). Individual’s effectiveness in an organization is likely to depend significantly upon his/her ability to influence or persuade others in order to accomplish assigned tasks. The ability to influence or persuade users to cooperate or comply with request is likely to be important for systems analyst ( Joshi , nd) . Some examples of Interpersonal skills are as follow (Boyle & Strong, 2006): – * Ability to deal with uncertainty
* Ability accomplish assignments
* Ability to be sensitive to organizational
* Time management skills
* Stress management skills
* Listening skills
* Ability to be proactive
The most important interpersonal skill for a system analyst is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with others. Analyst should be able to successfully communicate with users, other information systems professional and management (Dixit, 2007). Communication has many forms from written to verbal to visual. Oral communication and listening skills are considered the most important communication skills that system analyst need to succeed. According to Tan (1993), in effective communication, goal achievement is a function of mutual understanding. The key factors influencing mutual understanding are client oriented, transaction management, rapport, task complexity, and client communication skills. Client orientation and transaction management are in turn affected by performance skills of systems analyst (Tan, 1993). Some of the specific types of communication are as follows: * Interviewing and listening: – Interviewing is one of the primary ways analyst gather information about an information system project. * Written and Oral presentation: – Written and Oral Presentation communications have different forms. Some of them are as follows (Dixit, 2007) * Meeting agenda
* Meeting minutes
* Interview summaries
* Project schedules and descriptions
* Memoranda requesting information, and interview, participation in a project activity, or status of a project * Request for proposal from contractors and vendors.
Technical knowledge and skills
Even if a system analyst is not involved in activities such as programming, network design, or hardware configuration. It is still crucial to have an understanding different types of technology- what they are used for, how they work ,a nd how they are evolving (Satzinger, Jackson & Burd, 2010). According to Satzinger, Jackson&burd (2010), Systems analyst should understand the fundamentals about the following: * Computer and how they work
* File, database, and storage hardware and software
* Input and output hardware software
* Computer networks and protocols
* Programming language, operating systems, and utilities
* Communication and collaboration technology such as digital telephones, video conferencing, and Web-based document management systems.
According to Khosrowpour (1997), organizational skills are important for systems analyst.
Some of major skills that a system analyst needs to be successful are Analytical skills, Interpersonal skills, Technical skills and Communication skills. Interpersonal skills represent the ability to interact with other workers including end users, other systems analyst, managers, and outside vendors. Technical skills include the ability to employ system development techniques such as functional decomposition, data flow diagramming, process specifications, data modeling, computer programming, hardware and software knowledge, and other recognized tools designed to aid in system development. Analytical skills help to examine things critically and/or minutely, to separate the broad picture into its individual components. Communications skills are the ability to write and speak clearly, to summarize and document information in a manner that other people understand.
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