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Unit 9 Systems Analysis and Design


·   Aim

To provide learners with the knowledge and skills needed to undertake a systems analysis investigation by following a recognised methodology.

·   Unit abstract

The systems life cycle provides a comprehensive framework for initially capturing data and information through a feasibility study and the use of recognised fact-finding techniques.

Learners will be encouraged to identify and consider a full set of stakeholder interests to be sure that the wider implications of any development are considered.

To provide perspective, learners will examine different life cycle models and appreciate their particular strengths and weaknesses and to which situations they are most appropriate.

Theoretical understanding will be translated into practical skills through actual systems investigations and learners will become confident in the use of particular tools and techniques relevant to the methodology chosen. Although for practical purposes, it is likely that one particular methodology and related tools and techniques will be chosen for practical work, it is important that learners understand that others are available.

·   Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit a learner will:
  1. Understand different systems life cycles
  2. Understand the importance of a feasibility study
  3. Be able to perform a systems investigation.

Unit content

1         Understand different systems life cycles

Lifecycle models: examples eg Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), Rapid Applications Design (RAD), Spiral, Agile, Dynamic Systems Design Methodology (DSDM), Waterfall and Prototyping

Lifecycle procedure/stage: lifecycle stages within different models; lifecycle stages examples eg (feasibility study, analysis, design, implementation, testing, review) or (analysis, design, implementation, maintenance, planning)

2         Understand the importance of a feasibility study

Fact-finding techniques: eg, interviews, observation, investigation of documentation, questionnaires, focus groups

Feasibility criteria: issues eg legal, social, economic, technical, timescales; organisational constraints

Components: purpose; structure; intended audience; outcomes

3         Be able to perform a systems investigation

Identify requirements: stakeholders; requirements identification; requirements specification eg scope, inputs, outputs, processes and process descriptors; consideration of alternate solutions; quality assurance required

Constraints: specific to activity eg costs, organisational policies, legacy systems, hardware platforms

Report documentation: structure eg background information, problem statements, data collection process and summary, recommendations, appendices

Systems analysis terminology and tools: data stores and entities; data flows; process representation techniques relationships – 1:1, 1:Many (1:M) and Many: Many (M:M)

Investigation: eg upgrading computer systems, designing new systems

Techniques: examples relevant to methodology chosen eg Context Diagrams, Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs), Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs); Business Systems Options (BSOs); Technical Systems Options (TSOs); quality considerations eg Total Quality Management (TQM)

Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

Learning outcomes On successful completion of this unit a learner will: Assessment criteria for pass   The learner can:
LO1 Understand different systems life cycles evaluate different systems lifecycle modelsdiscuss the importance of following a procedural/staged lifecycle in a systems investigation
LO2 Understand the importance of a feasibility study discuss the components of a feasibility reportassess the impact of different feasibility criteria on a systems investigation
LO3 Be able to perform a systems investigation undertake a systems investigation to meet a business needuse appropriate systems analysis tools and techniques to carry out a systems investigationcreate documentation to support a systems investigationevaluate how user and systems requirements have been addressed.


Links to National Occupational Standards, other BTEC units, other BTEC qualifications and other relevant units and qualifications

The learning outcomes associated with this unit are closely linked with:

Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Unit 11: Systems Analysis and Design Unit 1: Business Skills for e- Commerce  

This unit has links to the Level 4 and Level 5 National Occupational Standards for IT and Telecoms Professionals, particularly the areas of competence of:

  • Systems Analysis.

Essential requirements

Learners must have access to a range of systems environments, in addition to more traditional texts, journals and case studies. Learners must also keep up to date with current systems developments in the field.

Learners must be encouraged to investigate a range of systems analysis methodologies and practices. Realistic business scenarios must be chosen wherever possible to provide as wide a perspective as possible. It is important for learners to consider all stakeholders in any activity because failure to do so is often one of the reasons why new systems do not fulfil the stated requirements.

The feasibility study is one of the most important stages in the lifecycle. If data and information is not obtained from users about the existing environment, problems, or requirements for a new or revised system then the investigation will be flawed. Delivery must therefore reflect this and expose learners to a range of information collecting techniques and their appropriateness in certain environments. Learners must also be encouraged to use a good variety of information collecting devices.



Dennis A and Haley Wixom B – Systems Analysis and Design (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2009) ISBN-10: 0470400315

Lejk M and Deeks D – An Introduction to System Analysis Techniques, 2nd Edition (Addison Wesley, 2002) ISBN-10: 0201797135



Employer engagement and vocational contexts

To further enrich the content of this unit and to provide more of a vocational context it would be beneficial to bring in analysts or employers from organisations that have had exposure to systems analysis.