Systems Development Methods and Tools

  • 0:05 System Development
  • 1:21 Phases of System Development
  • 4:23 System Development Tools
  • 6:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

System development is the process of defining, designing, testing and implementing a software application. Learn about the phases of systems development and some of the specific tools used to support the activities of each phase in this video lesson.

System Development

Information systems are implemented using specialized software. Some information systems rely on software that can be purchased from third-party vendors. However, many information systems need to be adapted to the needs of a particular organization. This may involve customizing existing software or developing software from scratch. Even when relatively standard software is acquired from a vendor, it may need to be integrated with the other systems within the organization. All of these different scenarios fall under system development.

System Development is the process of defining, designing, testing and implementing a software application. This includes the internal development of customized systems as well as the acquisition of software developed by third parties. System development is also referred to as software development, software engineering or application development. System development includes the management of the entire process of the development of computer software.

Consider the example of a large organization that wants to streamline purchase orders. Right now every department has its own systems in place, which includes a variety of approaches that have been developed over the years. After a few serious errors, senior management has decided to centralize the ordering process into a single system that every department will have access to.

Phases of System Development

A system development project includes a number of different phases, such as feasibility analysis, requirements analysis, software design, software coding, testing and debugging, installation and maintenance.

Phase One: A feasibility study is used to determine whether a project should go ahead. This will include an initial project plan and budget estimates for future stages of the project. In the example of the development of a central ordering system, a feasibility study would look at how a new central ordering system might be received by the various departments and how costly the new system would be relative to improving each of these individual systems.

Phase Two: Analysis identifies the requirements for the system. This includes a detailed analysis of the particular problem being addressed or the expectations of a particular system. In other words, analysis will articulate what the system is supposed to do. For the central ordering system, the analysis would carefully examine existing ordering systems and how to utilize the best aspects of those systems, while taking advantage of the potential benefits of more centralized systems.

Phase Three: The design phase includes determining what programs are needed and how they are going to interact, how each individual program is going to work, what the software interface is going to look like and what data will be required. System design may use tools like flowcharts and pseudo-code to develop the specific logic of the system. For this central ordering system, the design phase would lay out the detailed steps of how orders would take place and who in the organization would be involved at each step.

Phase Four: In the implementation stage, the design is translated into code. This requires selecting the most appropriate programming language and writing the actual code needed to the make the design work. In this phase, the central ordering system is actually coded using a particular programming language. This would also include developing a user interface that the various departments are able to use effectively.

Phase Five: Testing and debugging involves testing individual modules of the system as well as the system as a whole. This includes making sure the system actually does what is expected and that it runs on intended platforms. Testing during the early stages of a project may involve using a prototype, which meets some of the very basic requirements of the system but lacks many of the details. Testing of the central ordering system could take place in one department or use only a few key individuals. That makes it possible to identify needed improvements before implementation in all departments.

Phase Six: Installation includes implementing the system so that it becomes part of the workflows of the organization. A certain amount of training may be necessary to make sure employees get comfortable with using the system. At this stage the central ordering system is installed in all departments, replacing the older system.

Phase Seven: All systems require some form of maintenance. This may consist of minor updates to the system or more drastic changes due to unexpected circumstances. As the organization and its departments evolve, the ordering process may require some modifications. This makes is possible to get the most out of a new centralized system.

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