The People in Information Systems
In this chapter, you will learn about the "people" component of management information systems. As you read, think about the Decision Support Systems video and the importance that each person plays in the success of an organization, not just the successful implementation of the technology.
The Creators of Information Systems
The systems analyst straddles the divide between identifying business needs and imagining a new or redesigned system to fulfill those needs. This individual works with a team or department seeking to identify business requirements and analyze the specific details of an existing system or a system that needs to be built. Generally, the analyst is required to have a good understanding of the business itself, the purpose of the business, the business processes involved, and the ability to document them well. The analyst identifies the different stakeholders in the system and works to involve the appropriate individuals in the analysis process.
Prior to analyzing the problem or the system of concern, the analyst needs to a) clearly identify the problem, b) gain approval for the project, c) identify the stakeholders, and d) develop a plan to monitor the project. The analysis phase of the project can be broken down into five steps.
- Seek out and identify the details
- Specify requirements
- Decide which requirements are most important
- Create a dialog showing how the user interacts with the existing system
- Ask users to critique the list of requirements that have been developed
The analysis phase involves both the systems analyst and the users. It is important to realize the role the users take in the analysis of the system. Users can have significant insights into how well the current system functions as well as suggest improvements.
Once the requirements are determined, the analyst begins the process of translating these requirements into an information systems design. It is important to understand which different technological solutions will work and provide several alternatives to the client, based on the company's budgetary constraints, technology constraints, and culture. Once the solution is selected, the analyst will create a detailed document describing the new system. This new document will require that the analyst understand how to speak in the technical language of systems developers.
The design phase results in the components of the new system being identified, including how they relate to one another. The designer needs to communicate clearly with software developers as well database administrators by using terminology that is consistent with both of these specialties. The design phase of the project can be broken down into six steps.
- Design the hardware environment
- Design the software
- Design how the new system will interface with the users
- Design hardware interfaces
- Design database tables
- Design system security
A systems analyst generally is not the one who does the actual development of the information system. The design document created by the systems analyst provides the detail needed to create the system and is handed off to a developer to actually write the software and to the database administrator to build the database and tables that will be in the database.
Sometimes the system may be assembled from off-the-shelf components by a person called a systems integrator. This is a specific type of systems analyst that understands how to get different software packages to work with each other.
To become a systems analyst, you should have a background both in the business analysis and in systems design. Many analysts first work as developers and have business experience before becoming system analysts. It is vital for analysts to clearly understand the purpose of the business of interest, realizing that all businesses are unique.