What Computer Systems Analysts Do
Analysts create diagrams to help programmers and architects build computer systems.
Computer systems analysts study an organization's current computer systems and procedures and make recommendations to management to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.
Computer systems analysts typically do the following:
- Consult with managers to determine the role of the IT system in an organization
- Research emerging technologies to decide if installing them can increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness
- Prepare an analysis of costs and benefits so that management can decide if computer upgrades are financially worthwhile
- Devise ways to make existing computer systems meet new needs
- Design and develop new systems by choosing and configuring hardware and software
- Oversee installing and configuring the new system to customize it for the organization
- Do tests to ensure that the systems work as expected
- Train the system’s end users and write instruction manuals, when required
Analysts use a variety of techniques to design computer systems such as data-modeling systems, which create rules for the computer to follow when presenting data, thereby allowing analysts to make faster decisions. They also do information engineering, designing and setting up information systems to improve efficiency and communication.
Because analysts work closely with an organization’s business leaders, they help the IT team understand how its computer systems can best serve the organization.
Analysts determine requirements for how much memory and speed the computer system needs, as well as other necessary features. They prepare flowcharts or diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with these people to solve problems that arise after the initial system is set up.
Most systems analysts specialize in certain types of computer systems that are specific to the organization they work with. For example, an analyst might work predominantly with financial computer systems or engineering systems.
In some cases, analysts who supervise the initial installation or upgrade of IT systems from start to finish may be called IT project managers. They monitor a project’s progress to ensure that deadlines, standards, and cost targets are met. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers. For more information, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.
The following are examples of types of computer system analysts.
Systems analysts specialize in developing new systems or fine-tuning existing ones to meet an organization’s needs.
Systems designers or systems architects specialize in helping organizations choose a specific type of hardware and software system. They develop long-term goals for the computer systems and a plan to reach those goals. They work with management to ensure that systems are set up to best serve the organization’s mission.
Software quality assurance (QA) analysts do in-depth testing of the systems they design. They run tests and diagnose problems to make sure that certain requirements are met. QA analysts write reports to management recommending ways to improve the system.
Programmer analysts design and update their system’s software and create applications tailored to their organization’s needs. They do more coding and debugging the code than other types of analysts, although they still work extensively with management to determine what business needs the applications are meant to address. Other occupations that do programming are computer programmers and software developers. For more information, see the profiles on computer programmers and software developers.