Systems analysis is the study of sets of interacting entities, including computer systems analysis. This field is closely related to requirements analysis or operations research. It is also "an explicit formal inquiry carried out to help someone (referred to as the decision maker) identify a better course of action and make a better decision than he might otherwise have made."
The terms analysis and synthesis come from Greek where they mean respectively "to take apart" and "to put together". These terms are used in scientific disciplines from mathematics and logic to economics and psychology to denote similar investigative procedures. Analysis is defined as the procedure by which we break down an intellectual or substantial whole into parts. Synthesis is defined as the procedure by which we combine separate elements or components in order to form a coherent whole. Systems analysis researchers apply methodology to the analysis of systems involved to form an overall picture. System analysis is used in every field where there is a work of developing something. Analysis can also be defined as a series of components that perform organic function together.
The development of a computer-based information system includes a systems analysis phase which produces or enhances the data model which itself is a precursor to creating or enhancing a database (see Christopher J. Date "An Introduction to Database Systems"). There are a number of different approaches to system analysis. When a computer-based information system is developed, systems analysis (according to the Waterfall model) would constitute the following steps:
- The development of a feasibility study, involving determining whether a project is economically, socially, technologically and organizationally feasible.
- Conducting fact-finding measures, designed to ascertain the requirements of the system's end-users. These typically span interviews, questionnaires, or visual observations of work on the existing system.
- Gauging how the end-users would operate the system (in terms of general experience in using computer hardware or software), what the system would be used for and so on
Another view outlines a phased approach to the process. This approach breaks systems analysis into 5 phases:
- Scope Definition
- Problem analysis
- Requirements analysis
- Logical design
- Decision analysis
Use cases are a widely used systems analysis modeling tool for identifying and expressing the functional requirements of a system. Each use case is a business scenario or event for which the system must provide a defined response. Use cases evolved out of object-oriented analysis; however, their use as a modeling tool has become common in many other methodologies for system analysis and design.
Practitioners of systems analysis are often called up to dissect systems that have grown haphazardly to determine the current components of the system. This was shown during the year 2000 re-engineering effort as business and manufacturing processes were examined as part of the Y2K automation upgrades. Employment utilizing systems analysis include systems analyst, business analyst, manufacturing engineer, enterprise architect, etc.
While practitioners of systems analysis can be called upon to create new systems, they often modify, expand or document existing systems (processes, procedures and methods). A set of components interact with each other to accomplish some specific purpose. Systems are all around us. Our body is itself a system. A business is also a system. People, money, machine, market and material are the components of business system that work together that achieve the common goal of the organization.
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- Software Requirement Analysis using UML article by Dhiraj Shetty.
- Introduction to Social Macrodynamics
- A useful set of guides and a case study about the practical application of business and systems analysis methods
- A comprehensive description of the discipline of systems analysis from Simmons College, Boston, MA, USA (Archive of original from www.simmons.edu)