Computer systems are designed by people who have a broad set of information technology skills and knowledge. They have an understanding of hardware, software, networking and business operations. The designers of information systems apply all of their knowledge and combine hardware and software components in such a way that produces a system that is the most effective and efficient. The information technologists who create and integrate information systems for businesses and organizations are known as computer systems analysts and administrators.
Nearly every organization’s requirements are different. “Out-of-the-box” solutions generally fall short of meeting an organization’s needs because requirements vary from business to business. An analyst actually documents business requirements and specifies what is needed for a company to meet its information processing requirements. The computer systems analysts can document an existing system, design a new system or modify existing ones. New systems or components are brought together by analysts and put to use in a manner that produces the desired outcomes.
Computer systems analysts may use sophisticated modeling techniques to document how existing information systems function. Data flow diagrams and flowcharting are other techniques (such as observation) that may also be used by analysts.
Analysts look at source documents, transactions, raw data and how they operate together to get information to decision makers. The computer systems analyst is interested in getting the information to the person who needs it, when he or she needs it and in the form that it is needed. The systems that are ultimately designed by the analyst are supportive of documented organizational goals.
Systems analysts may also be referred to as system designers. They either work as system designers or may do both the analysis and design work. Some analysts may work with end users in testing a new system to make sure that the requirements have been met. Analysts and designers may also prepare documentation and teach employees how to use the new system. Analysts are frequently involved in acceptance testing which validates the new system or system’s ability to meet stated goals.
Computer systems analysts must be excellent communicators as the work they do cuts across organizational lines. They must be comfortable in asking questions and discerning answers. Analysts document “what is” and determine solutions to problems.
There are a number of other titles for analysts. Among them are quality assurance analyst and programmer analyst. Computer systems analysts must be logical and enjoy investigating programs in a step-by-step manner. They must be detail oriented and be able to exercise good judgment. Depending upon the specific requirements of the job, industry, and company, an analyst’s salary can exceed $100,000. Jobs for analysts are expected to grow by more than 20% between now and 2020. New demands for analysts will include knowledge of mobile and cloud-based information systems.
A four-year degree is usually required to become a computer systems analyst. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer or management information systems. Analysts need to have an understanding of the industry in which they desire to work. For example, to work as an analyst in an agriculture sector a person would likely want to have an active interest in agriculture or some work experience in the field.
Computer systems analysts study information system requirements, work flow and how organizations are attempting to use information technology to support decision- making. Analysts document what is happening and what is required for a system to be successful. Computer systems analysts have a broad base of skills and knowledge that is backed up with a four-year degree in information technology. Career opportunities for a computer systems analyst are extensive.