Computer systems analysts may best be described as systems consultants who assist organizations to realise the maximum benefit from their investment in computer equipment and personnel. At all times systems analysts are accountable to clients in developing the best possible systems according to the requirements specified.
Computer Systems Analysts analyse an organization's current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently. Computer Systems Analysts bring both business and information technology (IT) together by developing an understanding of the needs and limitations of both.
Computer systems analysts consult with the client in order to determine the client’s needs and requirements. They then decide whether and how computers or computer applications could be used to improve them. The next step is to draw up diagrams of how the work is to be done and work out the new system’s requirements and specifications. In some cases, the system analyst may work with a systems architect and network engineer to draw up detailed charts and diagrams that indicate the various components involved.
They specify the inputs to be accessed by the system, design the processing steps and format the output to meet the users’ needs. Analysts use techniques such as structured analysis, data modelling, information engineering, mathematical model building, sampling and cost accounting to plan the system.
They then check the feasibility and workability of a conceptual design. This may include the preparation of cost-benefit and return-on-investment analyses to help management decide whether implementing the proposed system would be financially feasible.
Once the client’s systems requirements have been determined, computer systems analysts may then oversee the system’s development and write programs and system specifications to meet these requirements. Finally, they test the new system with users of the system and consult with the stakeholders to ensure that targets are met. Analysts conduct in-depth tests and analyse information and trends in the data to increase a system's performance and efficiency.
Computer systems analysts use a variety of techniques, such as data modelling, to design computer systems. Data modelling is the process of documenting a complex software system design as a flow diagram using text and symbols to represent processes and data flows.
Analysts calculate requirements for the amount of memory, storage, and computing power the computer system may need. They prepare the flow diagram or other kinds of diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with other computer specialists to solve problems that arise after the initial system is set up.
Most computer systems analysts gain experience in the economic sector or industry they work in. For example, an analyst might work predominantly with financial computer systems in a banking sector or with computer systems in a manufacturing sector.
Computer systems analysts who supervise the initial installation or upgrade of IT systems from start to finish are sometimes called IT project managers. They monitor a project's progress to ensure that deadlines, standards and cost targets are met according to company IT policies.
Software quality assurance (QA) analysts do in-depth testing and diagnose problems of the systems they design. Testing and diagnosis are done in order to make sure that critical requirements are met. QA analysts also write reports to management recommending ways to improve the systems.
Programmer analysts design and update their system's software and create applications tailored to their organization's needs. They do more coding and debugging than other types of analysts, although they still work extensively with management and business analysts to determine the business needs that the applications are meant to address.
In order to become a computer systems analyst, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, or computer engineering, or a closely related field.
Degree: BSc Computer Science or Information Systems – all universities.
Postgraduate: Honours in Computer Science can be followed by MSc and PhD at most universities.
It is essential to upgrade knowledge continuously because systems and security threats are constantly changing.
Computer Society of SA
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319
Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
1st Floor, Waterview Corner Building
2 Ernest Oppenheimer Avenue
Bruma Lake Office Park, Bruma
Tel: (011) 607-9500
Information Technology Users Council of South Africa
Fussell House Office Park,
Office Suite Two – North Wing,
48 Athol Oaklands Road,
Melrose North, 2196
Tel: (010) 203-9003