In this first phase of the systems development life cycle, the analyst is concerned with correctly identifying problems, opportunities, and objectives. This stage is critical to the success of the rest of the project, because no one wants to waste subsequent time addressing the wrong problem. The first phase requires that the analyst look honestly at what is occurring in a business.
Then, together with other organizational members, the analyst pinpoints problems. Often others will bring up these problems, and they are the reason the analyst was initially called in. Opportunities are situations that the analyst believes can be improved through the use of computerized information systems. Seizing opportunities may allow the business to gain a competitive edge or set an industry standard.
Identifying objectives is also an important component of the first phase. The analyst must first discover what the business is trying to do. Then the analyst will be able to see whether some aspect of information systems applications can help the business reach its objectives by addressing specific problems or opportunities.
The people involved in the first phase are the users, analysts, and systems managers coordinating the project. Activities in this phase consist of interviewing user management, summarizing the knowledge obtained, estimating the scope of the project, and documenting the results. The output of this phase is a feasibility report containing a problem definition and summarizing the objectives. Management must then make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposed project. If the user group does not have sufficient funds in its budget or wishes to tackle unrelated problems, or if the problems do not require a computer system, a different solution may be recommended, and the systems project does not proceed any further.
Determining Human Information Requirements in System Development Life Cycle
The next phase the analyst enters is that of determining the human needs of the users involved, using a variety of tools to understand how users interact in the work context with their current information systems. The analyst will use interactive methods such as interviewing, sampling and investigating hard data, and questionnaires, along with unobtrusive methods, such as observing decision makers’ behavior and their office environments, and all-encompassing methods, such as prototyping.
The analyst will use these methods to pose and answer many questions concerning human-computer interaction (HCI), including questions such as, “What are the users’ physical strengths and limitations?” In other words, “What needs to be done to make the system audible, legible, and safe?” “How can the new system be designed to be easy to use, learn, and remember?” “How can the system be made pleasing or even fun to use?” “How can the system support a user’s individual work tasks and make them more productive in new ways?”
In the information requirements phase of the SDLC, the analyst is striving to understand what information users need to perform their jobs. At this point the analyst is examining how to make the system useful to the people involved. How can the system better support individual tasks that need doing? What new tasks are enabled by the new system that users were unable to do without it? How can the new system be created to extend a user’s capabilities beyond what the old system provided? How can the analyst create a system that is rewarding for workers to use?
The people involved in this phase are the analysts and users, typically operations managers and operations workers. The systems analyst needs to know the details of current system functions: the who (the people who are involved), what (the business activity), where (the environment in which the work takes place), when (the timing), and how (how the current procedures are performed) of the business under study. The analyst must then ask why the business uses the current system. There may be good reasons for doing business using the current methods, and these should be considered when designing any new system.
Agile development is an object-oriented approach (OOA) to systems development that includes a method of development (including generating information requirements) as well as software tools. In this text it is paired with prototyping in Chapter 6. (There is more about object-oriented approaches in Chapter 10.)
If the reason for current operations is that “it’s always been done that way,” however, the analyst may wish to improve on the procedures. At the completion of this phase, the analyst should understand how users accomplish their work when interacting with a computer and begin to know how to make the new system more useful and usable. The analyst should also know how the business functions and have complete information on the people, goals, data, and procedures involved.
- Incorporating Human–Computer Interaction Considerations
- Identifying Problems, Opportunities, and Objectives
- Determining Human Information Requirements
- Analyzing System Needs
- Designing the Recommended System
- Developing and Documenting Software
- Testing and Maintaining the System
- Implementing and Evaluating the System
- The Impact of Maintenance
- Types of Systems
- Integrating Technologies for Systems
- Need for Systems Analysis and Design
- Roles of the Systems Analyst
- The Systems Development Life Cycle
- Using Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) Tools
- The Agile Approach
- Object-Oriented Systems Analysis and Design & Choosing Which Systems Development Method to Use