Book Review: How to Do Systems Analysis
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This book’s strapline is “Becoming a Systems Thinker”. The authors take a practical approach in systems analysis and describe the fundamentals of systemic thinking, including problem definition and solution.
How to do Systems Analysis covers six phases: determining system goals, setting criteria and processes for ranking alternatives, developing those solutions, ranking them, iteration, and finally taking action. These steps are covered in greater detail in the majority of the book.
The index of performance, i.e. How to determine if the system is suitable for its purpose. The authors provide explanations and formulae for economic criteria. They also discuss how to best engage end users in the creation of an index of performance. Although the book is technical and sometimes dry, it is grounded in theory and practical application. The authors emphasize that analysis is not for analysis sake. There is always a customer and a problem that must be solved.
The book’s last chapters cover the additional skills that a systems analyst must have: project management and management of the system team. These chapters include information on how to present clients effectively, planning and documentation.
How to do Systems Analysis contains many examples of projects in which analysis and systems engineering were key to the success. These are complex, large-scale systems that are presented in case studies. To ensure clarity and prompt reading, there are many exercises for systems analysis students.
While there are simpler texts that can be used for desk reference, this book is very comprehensive and would be of great help to junior or student system analysts for basic concepts. It could also be useful for analysts who move from small projects to more complex systems, regardless of their discipline.
This review was published in The Computer Journal
John E Gibson, William T Scherer and William F Gibson, How To Do Systems Analysis, Wiley 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0-470-00765-5. PS47.50. 360pp. Hardcover
SPOTO, The Computer Journal 2008; doi: 10.1093/comjnl/bxn067