1.5.1 system components
The system comprises of the following necessary ingredients:
(iii) People / Users
(iv) Data / Information
(v) Communication setup
Our main discussion here is focused on the application software development process, leaving aside the software packages (which are always available in the market).
What is a system?
A system can be defined as a combination of some related components that interact with each other to perform some specific tasks.
To develop a system, several distinct phases are to be worked out. For this purpose, SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) was developed, which is an organized way to develop a successful system. It involves five phases as shown in the following diagram.
1.5.2 System Development Life Cycle
Preliminary investigation: the objective of preliminary investigation is to conduct an initial analysis and findings of the system as discussed below:
- System identification: the system is to be identified at this stage. This is very important step as everything done in future will depend on the basis of this definition.
- System scope: the scope of the system is established at this stage. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to curtail the projects to certain limits due to financial, political, or time constraints.
- Alternate solution: there may be alternate solutions to develop the system. Identify all those and choose the best one. The best strategy in this regard would be to interview the concerned people inside the organization, clients or customers of the system, suppliers and consultants. We can also watch what the competitors are doing for the same type of systems.
- Feasibility study: we have to see the financial, political, and time-frame viabilities to go ahead for the system. There may be some social and technical constraint to be considered also.
- Preliminary plan: here, we need to wind up all the findings and submit as a written document for approval. The readers of this document (also known as feasibility report) are top managers who will then decide about the future actions to be taken, based on this report. They might would like to make few amendments in the project or shelve it, depending on the whole preliminary investigation.
Systems analysis: Here, the analyst will conduct the following activities:
Needs analysis: This activity is also called requirements analysis. Here the analyst would sum up the requirements of the system from the users and the managers. The developed system should satisfy these requirements during testing phase.
Data gathering: for this activity, the systems analyst uses different tools and methods, depending on the situation. They are discussed as under:
- Written documents: in case we want to computerize the existing manual system or upgrade the existing computer-based system, much of the handful information can be made available using these documents. They are the reports, forms, memos, business plans, policy statements, organizational charts and many others.
- Interviews: interviewing the mangers, users/clients, suppliers, and competitors will help the analysts /designers to gain more knowledge about the system. The emphasis is on the fact that the questions to be asked from them should be precise and relevant.
- Questionnaires: it may be difficult to interview many people, so it is better to design some questionnaires to collect the information from as many people as we like. This is very convenient and inexpensive method to collect handful of data but sometimes the response may be ambiguous and insufficient.
- Observations: the analyst or his team may go and watch the working, behavior, and similar things to know more about the similar systems around. The may be a participant or non-participant observer depending on the permission he got from the other party.
- Sampling: if there were a large number of people or events involved in the system, it would be better to work on a portion of all of them to save time.