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Systems Analysis

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The System Analyst profession is one of today’s highly valuable areas in business activity that include the solution of organizational problems by means of system analysis. In the broad sense, systems analyst is a specialist in solving complex organizational and technical issues and/or problems of an interdisciplinary nature, using the principles of general systems theory and methods of system analysis. In a narrow sense in the field of information technology, this profession title is used to refer to a professional role and professional responsibility for the analysis of stakeholder interests created by IT-systems for the possibility of meeting its technical properties (Misic & Graf, 2004). The main products of the system analysts work are organizational and technical decisions made as a specification for the system peculiarities for the software.

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The profession of systems analyst has emerged recently. Needs of the business created a demand for various kinds of specialists: programmers, IT architects, consultants, business analysts, and system analysts. The origin of job title system analyst is directly related to the increase in demand for process automation in the organizations (Haga, et al., 2008). In general, the term does not have a stable interpretation; thus, in organizations of various classes (scientific, research, commercial), it acquires a few different meanings (Jain, 2008). In some organizations, it is understood as a generalist, able to look for solutions of non-trivial, multidimensional problems; in others – as a specialist for a description of the organization of activities (business intelligence, methodology); in the third – as a technical specialist with great skills and ability to set the task of design and creation of a team.

In the IT field, systems analyst often engaged in tasks of process automation. It collects information from all participants in the production process, designs it, and thoroughly describes software functionality. In general, the system analyst is responsible for the technical formulation of the problem for the software development. System analyst is mainly engaged into the data analysis and decision-making regarding how the system will work, what methods will be used (the key difference between the work depends on the service sector: b-2-c, b-2-b and b-2-g), as well as writing the main technical documents (for instance, Microscope 5). An important part of this specialists work is functional analysis, which resulted in the allocated list of functions to be fulfilled by the system (for example, based on IDEF0), as well as the definition of system requirements (Colomo-Palacios, et al., 2012). However, it is essentially to remember that in different companies responsibilities of the system analyst can vary greatly. Some of the functions can be performed by different users, so there is no universal definition of systems analyst. Basically what exactly he/she has to do – is to analyze the data and try to find the most effective way to carry out its task. For specialist, the skills from different fields are required: informational technologies, management, economics, and understanding of the companys main activities for which tasks are accomplished.

Basing on the above descriptions of the system analysts profession in different fields of business performance, it is necessary to conclude the most general list of the duties of systems analyst:

– collection, analysis, and documentation of the projects (software, product) requirements (interviewing customers);

– interaction with customers and the subjects experts;

– development terms of reference (TOR) and setting goals;

– building the necessary models, algorithms, prototypes;

– designing software and integrated systems;

– coordinating the development, testing, acceptance, and introduction of software;

– testing and fixing bugs in software development.

Additional duties of the systems analyst may include programming and work with databases, as this is primary depended on the organization, its hierarchy, management, etc.

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It is essential that any profession has its advantages and disadvantages. Erudition on the primary and secondary business processes, orientation in the subject field of the client (customer) allows analysts to develop their career in several ways: consulting, project management, department areas. These are the main advantages of the particular profession. System knowledge and experience in the implementation of specific projects on ERP-system allow professionals to successfully participate in projects for the implementation of similar systems. There is also a plus of work as a systems analyst, as it may include a high level of compensation, self-expression, and self-fulfillment. Providing a flexible work schedule, including the ability to work remotely (up to 30% of the time), can also be considered as an advantage.

However, given the high level of adjacency with other specializations (developer, architect applications consultant), there is a risk of switching systems analyst for related tasks that may not always meet the goals and aspirations of a specialist. The disadvantages of the profession can be attributed to the transition difficulties in activities not related to the implementation and development of the software. The main “problem” of the profession and ways to resolve them are included in the list below.

1. The presence of a significant experience in a particular domain or knowledge within the capabilities of a specific ERP-system limits the possibility of moving into new subject areas and to other ERP (factor of “stereotypes”). The way to solve this particular disadvantage may refer to the participation in related projects, the constant search for and switch to the new challenges, the acquisition of work experience (meetings) with other information systems.

2. Low level of formulating customers goals and objectives of the development and implementation of information systems (factor of “goal-setting”). To overcome this problem, there is a need for the proper organization of the process of gathering information, organizing feedback, documentation of decisions.

3. Huge dependence on the quality of knowledge and on the qualifications of business experts and users of information systems. Low level of experts qualification is a low level of understanding and knowledge of the subject area. In order to minimize the bad effect of this factor, it is important to communicate with the experts of the professional community, ask for their advice, as well as change the employer.

I prefer the profession of systems analysts for the variety of the opportunities and possibilities it has. The career prospects of this profession can be applied anywhere from the career ladder to senior, leading systems analyst, the head of the department, to opportunities in the area of ??management – from good analysts can be the growth to the good project manager. In addition, I want to work in this field as it requires lots of creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and constant studying, which will lead to the self-confidence, self-development, and self-improvement.

The personnel structure in IT companies, as a rule, has the division-matrix organizational structure. That is why, there is an analytical department with a boss, but the systems analyst is submitted to the project manager. In this case, it may participate in several projects. I think that the systems analyst should be the part of the both user community and IT department. For instance, in Microsoft corporation, systems analysts are connected to the user community the same as to the IT department. This practice is widely used in many IT companies. However, in the other fields of the business performance, the systems analysts are mainly being the part of the IT department, performing different roles and duties. In many companies, such as Kraft Foods, McDonalds, this practice is being implemented (Dennis, Wixon & Roth, 2008).

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