Systems Analysis: Definition & Example

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  • 0:00 What Is Systems Analysis?
  • 1:30 Benefits of Systems Analysis
  • 2:48 Examples of Systems Analysis
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

What is systems analysis? And how is it used to solve problems? Learn about systems analysis and some examples. See how well you analyzed the information in this lesson by taking a quiz.

What Is Systems Analysis?

The world is complex and full of problems to solve. It's probably not surprising, therefore, that problem solving is one of the most sought-after skills. If you can break a problem apart, and come up with a solution, your skills will always be needed. One type of problem solving is called systems analysis.

Systems analysis is a problem-solving method that involves looking at the wider system, breaking apart the parts, and figuring out how it works in order to achieve a particular goal. But before we get into detail about how that works, we should probably first answer the question: What is a system?

A system is a general set of parts, steps, or components that are connected to form a more complex whole. For example, a computer system contains processors, memory, electrical pathways, a power supply, etc. For a very different example, a business is a system made up of methods, procedures, and routines.

The first step in solving a problem that involves a system is analyzing that system. This involves breaking it down into the parts that make it up, and seeing how those parts work together. Sometimes figuring out how a system works can involve turning off parts of the system and seeing what happens, or changing parts of the system and seeing what the result is. If you change what goes into a system, how does it change what comes out? Basically, systems analysis involves techniques that allow you to understand how a system works.

Benefits of Systems Analysis

There are many reasons why you might want to analyze a system. These include learning to use systems that somebody else created, for planning new systems, and reducing errors when problem solving.

Sometimes systems analysis is a necessity. For example, if you buy a company and want to hire your own staff, you might find out that you are now an owner of a series of systems you know nothing about. It might be impossible to use the systems until they are analyzed, especially if all of the original staff are gone. This can happen on a much smaller scale when you start a new job, or move to a new department. If there isn't anyone there to explain how a system works, you might have to figure it out for yourself.

Installing a new system, whether it's a home entertainment center, a factory production line, or way of working in an office, requires proper planning. Without this planning and systems analysis, the change might not work. You need to understand how the current system works before you install a new one. Otherwise there may be problems, and the project could be a failure.

Systems analysis also leads to fewer mistakes when problem solving. A person might be able to fix a problem within five minutes, but then days later discover that this fix caused more problems than it solved. The better you understand the system, the less likely this is to happen.

Examples of Systems Analysis

Let's say you're an air conditioning repair person and have been called in to replace a faulty system. Perhaps the air conditioning system is unusually complex or of a type you've never seen before. You need to analyze the system to understand it before you can figure out what went wrong.

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