S556: System Analysis and Design

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You will be evaluated on the basis of evaluated on the basis of:

These are described below, and will be discussed in greater detail in class.


Each student will complete three individual assignments during the semester. All individual assignments should be submitted in both electronic (via the Assignments section in Canvas) and paper formats.

1. Problem definition (15%)

Based on a system with which you are familiar, you will define a problem that could be addressed through systems analysis and design. The problem definition should be clear to someone not familiar with the setting (avoid jargon, provide context). A hard copy of the problem definition will be turned in for grading, and an electronic copy will be turned in through Canvas for sharing with other classmates. Both are due by the beginning of the class.

The problem should be associated with an information system with which you are familiar. The problem should be within an organization that could support a team in conducting a systems analysis project during this semester. If you are unfamiliar with any problems to which we can have access, develop a problem definition for any system with which you are familiar. If that's the case, please make a note at the end of the problem definition (e.g., "This problem definition will not be appropriate for a group project") in bold. Those who write problem definitions that would be selected for group projects will earn extra points.

The problem definition should include the following:
  • Describing the setting of the problem. Provide a very brief (one paragraph) description of the setting in which the problem occurs. If an information system (computerized or manual) is already in place, briefly describe it.

  • Describing the problem. Specify the problem, rather than just describing the symptoms associated with the problem. You may use the symptoms to demonstrate that the problem is significant. Try not to focus too much on the information system, but consider a business problem that involves information systems (see Satzinger, Jackson, & Burd, 2009).

  • Defining the scope of the problem. The scope represents your sense of the problem's magnitude. For example, scope may be described in terms of the number of people who are affected by the system, the number of people who use the system, the amount of data involved in the system, or the costs of system failure. This also works as a brief justification for working on the problem. Note: "the scope of the problem" for this assignment is different from what Davis (1994) describes.

  • Defining the goals/objectives of the analysis/design project. Establish criteria for the success of the project. Essentially, you will identify criteria for recognizing that the problem is solved. Also provide a brief justification for working on the problem.

Specification: The problem definition should be brief (one page maximum, single-spaced, 11–point font minimum, default margin: 1–1.25 inch).

2. Flow/sequence/task model (15%)

3. Artifact/cultural/physical model (15%)

  • A short set of problems will be distributed in class for each of Individual Assignments #2 and #3. The problems are designed to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of and ability to apply the modeling/planning technique involved.

TEAM PROJECT (Total of 45%)

About the Team Project:

Working on a team, a complete system specification will be developed. Each team will select a problem to be addressed (based on the problem definitions written by class members for Individual Assignment #1 above), analyze the system currently in use, develop a design for a new system, and plan for its implementation.

The team will begin work on the system specification near the beginning of the semester and progress through the system development life cycle, to be finished with the specification by the end of the semester. Since we will be covering several analysis techniques, each team will try out each method to evaluate its benefits/weaknesses for their particular project. Near the end of the semester, the team will integrate their analyses for presentation to the client and the class. They will also develop and document a preliminary design.

Evaluation criteria:

The team projects have two purposes: to allow students to gain facility with some of the tools available for systems analysis, and to provide students with a realistic systems analysis experience. The final presentation and printed documentation from each team will be the basis of the grade assigned. The criteria for evaluation include:

  • the clarity of the description of the current system,
  • the quality of the design proposed in terms of its ability to improve the system's effectiveness,
  • the clarity and completeness of the description of the proposed system, and
  • the feasibility of the implementation plan.

1. Developing a System Specification (30%)

A series of drafts

The following work on the project must be completed on the dates listed, and handed in for feedback:

  • Information gathering plan (a detailed list of the data needed and the sources from which it will be gathered) & Project scheduling
  • Work models (3–5 types of selected models, based on Beyer & Holtzblatt)
  • Suggestions and Client Feedback for system design

Drafts of the specification may be revised based on the feedback provided and class discussion of the projects, and then integrated as part of the final complete specification. While the drafts themselves are not graded, doing well on them will make compiling the final report easier.

Final report

The complete specification will be in a printed form appropriate for presentation to both user/client groups and to the systems development team that would implement the system. A sample outline is available, to give you some sense of the types of information to be included. In addition to a hard copy, an electronic copy of the document needs to be submitted via Canvas. The document should be up to 20 pages plus appendices. All appendices need to be pointed out in the main text.

2. Presentation to class/client (5%)

Each team will orally present the results of its work to the class at the end of the semester for 15-20 minutes. The presentation should include the results of usability tests and/or clients' feedback. Unlike the earlier drafts of project work, the presentation will be considered in the grading of the project.

Note: In addition to the system specification, each team member will be asked to complete an assessment of the contributions of each of the other team members to the success of the project. These assessments will be used to assign appropriate individual grades for the team's work.

3. Presentation on teamwork (10%)

During the process of teamwork, you will be documenting your team's work process. This might mean keeping notes, taking pictures, drawing diagrams, videotaping, saving your work, etc. You have probably also settled into something of a routine. Show us how you work together. Along the way you will search for several ideas about what to look for. For example, where is the borderline between "routine" and "improvised"? Your team will present the teamwork process along with a couple of concepts from Lencioni for 12-15 minutes. Use concepts introduced in Lencioni (and other resources) to articulate problems in your team and present solutions for these problems.

To be more specific, I'm looking for the following (you may wish to add more to better describe your team processes):

  • What are the norms in the team process?
  • Do you assign different roles to individuals? If so, describe them.
  • How does your team make decisions?
  • How do you communicate with each other?
  • How do you solve conflicts?
  • How do you characterize your team process (come up with a metaphor).

Please use appropriate citations in the presentation, and submit PowerPoint slides to Oncourse before the class time on the due date.


Class participation is encouraged and expected. It may take several forms. Each student's participation in online and face–to–face class discussions and the quality of each student's contributions to their team's work will be evaluated as part of the course grade.

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