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Systems analyst: Job description

A systems analyst designs new IT solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity. The work might be for an external client or an internal client (such as a department within the same organisation).

Working closely with the client, analysts examine existing business models and flows of data, discuss their findings with the client, and design an appropriate improved IT solution. They act as the liaison between the client and the developers.

They produce outline designs and costings of new systems, specifying the operations the system will perform, and the way data will be viewed by the end-user, present their design to the client and, once it is approved, work closely with the client team to implement the solution.

Job titles in the IT sector are fluid, changing with advances in technology, and also varying between organisations. It is a good idea to look at the job description beneath the job title. For example, analysts may be known as systems or business analysts. The situation is further complicated by fourth generation languages (4GL) and object-orientated programming, which are programming languages designed to reduce the time and cost of software development. This makes it easier for 'analysts/developers' to design and modify systems, so traditional boundaries between systems analysis and programming have eroded and many practitioners now regard themselves as analysts/developers. Overlap with project management is also common.

Typical work activities

Most systems analysts work with a specific type of IT system, which varies with the type of organisation. Work activities also depend on the size and nature of the organisation, but typically involve:

  • liaising extensively with external or internal clients;
  • analysing clients' existing systems;
  • translating client requirements into highly specified project briefs;
  • identifying options for potential solutions and assessing them for both technical and business suitability;
  • drawing up specific proposals for modified or replacement systems;
  • producing project feasibility reports;
  • presenting proposals to clients;
  • working closely with developers and a variety of end users to ensure technical compatibility and user satisfaction;
  • ensuring that budgets are adhered to and deadlines met;
  • drawing up a testing schedule for the complete system;
  • overseeing the implementation of a new system;
  • planning and working flexibly to a deadline;
  • writing user manuals;
  • providing training to users of a new system;
  • keeping up to date with technical and industry developments.
Written by AGCAS editors
May 2012

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