This process is called analysis.
Identifying the Inputs, Outputs and Processes
This is because any new system that is designed will have to deal with similar inputs and outputs as the present system.
For example, the payroll system in a business might have the following inputs and outputs...
For similar reasons, the systems analyst also has to understand how the present system works (the processes – who does what and when)...
If these problems can be fixed, the system will work more smoothly, be more efficient and, in the case of a business, be more profitable.
In the above payroll example, the following problems might be identified...
- The payroll often takes over three days to process, resulting in many employees being paid late
- Timesheets sometimes get lost before being processed. This means that sometimes pay has to be estimated
- The reports sent to management do not show enough information.
New System Requirements Specification
The systems analyst specifies a list of requirements for the new system (‘requirements’ simply means targets or aims).
This list is usually called the Requirements Specification.
For the payroll example the requirements might be...
- Payroll processing should be completed within 24 hours
- The recording of hours worked should use a system that means the data cannot be lost
- Management reports should contain detailed information about pay for each department, overtime payments and average hours worked by each employee
- Management reports should be electronic so that managers can analyse the data more easily
What Hardware and Software Will Be Required?
- How many computers?
- What type of network?
- How many servers?
- Any special input devices? (e.g. barcode readers)
- Any special output devices?
- Is ready-made, off-the-shelf software available?
- Is custom-written software required?