There are four main stages in setting up a new computer system: Analysis - studying the problem; design - designing a solution; implementation - putting the solution into effect and testing it; evaluation - checking that the solution is working as intended. This process is often called systems analysis.
Developing and activating a new computer system is a long process. It is important to break the process down into smaller stages, each one requiring a different set of professional skills.
An important part of this process is the first stage - analysis. During this stage the systems analyst will investigate how the current system works and what needs to be improved. This involves finding out whether a new computer system is needed at all and exactly what it will be used for.
Analysis is all about looking at how a job is done at present and seeing if the job could be done better or more efficiently by upgrading or developing a new system.
With this goal in mind, the systems analyst might:
- observe staff at work
- interview staff about their work
- send out questionnaires about working practices
- inspect documents such as user guides, data capture forms and any printouts the current system creates
Having investigated the present system, the systems analyst will produce afeasibility study. This will look at whether the new system is:
- Technically feasible - is the new system technically possible to implement in the time available?
- Economically viable - will the cost of the new system be offset by savings once it is implemented, ie will it save the organisation time, money or increase its performance?
The project will only continue to the next stage if the answer to both of these questions is yes. At this point the decision makers in the organisation, eg the board of directors, decide whether or not to go ahead.
The next step is to draw up a requirements specification that outlines exactly what the new system will do. For example, it will mention:
- what hardware is needed
- what software is needed
- what inputs are needed
- what processing must take place
- what information needs to be output
A test plan will be included in the design…