What is System Analysis in Software Engineering?

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  • 0:04 Software Engineering
  • 1:01 System Analysis Definition
  • 1:40 System Analysis Stages
  • 5:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lyna Griffin

Lyna has tutored undergraduate Information Management Systems and Database Development. She has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Information Technology.

In this lesson, we will explore the concept of software engineering and examine why it is important and the activities that go into a typical systems analysis.

Software Engineering

The world we live in today has its bedrock on software and systems of varying types, complexities, and classifications. Our world is run by software. From college portals to computer games, from airplanes to spaceships, from cell phones to banking transactions and world security, everything is heavily dependent on some sort of software. We cannot escape software.

Software engineering is the discipline of engineering that deals with software production. It's not a software development methodology or another type of program writing process. Rather, it supports the activities and methodologies involved in software development as a process. Software engineering techniques support functional specifications, design, cost, schedule, dependability, and the evolution and lifetime of software developed as a whole. It's closely involved in the programming aspects as well as the documentation and configuration of the data that's required to ensure that all the functional specifications of the project are met.

System Analysis Definition

System analysis in software engineering is, therefore, the activities that comprise software engineering as a process in the production of software. It is the software process. This process has 4 main activities. They are:

  • Software specification
  • Software design and implementation
  • Software validation
  • Software evolution

As we can see, these activities are similar to those within systems analysis and the design of software. Depending on the methodology used, the activities can be arranged differently. They are arranged sequentially, for example, in the well-known Waterfall Model, while in the Incremental Development model they are inter-related.

Systems Analysis Stages

Let's first take a closer look at these four stages and their own requirements and sub-stages, beginning with software specification.

Software Specification

Software specification is also known as requirements engineering and is defined as the identification of the requirements of the system and the limitations within which the system will operate, develop, or can evolve. This stage ensures that the software meets all the users' expectations. It ensures the delivery of quality software to the user at the end of the production process. On completion of the software specification, a requirements document will be produced and validated by all parties.

The requirements engineering stages are:

1. Feasibility Studies

The user's needs are accessed to ensure that current technologies can adequately handle them, they are cost-effective, and they are within the limits of the overall budget. The feasibility study guides the ultimate decision as to whether to progress with the development or not.

2. Requirements Analysis

This involves stipulating system requirements from existing systems, potential users' inputs, and further analysis. Models are developed or decided on, and the result ensures the system in question is properly understood.

3. Requirements Specification

At this stage, all the information gathered so far is translated into a document that clearly states all the system requirements including the users' stated requirements and the detailed system functionalities.

4. Requirements Validation

This stage checks that the requirements developed are consistent and complete.

Now, let's take a closer look at the software design and implementation stage.

Software Design and Implementation

At this stage, the software specification starts to become a reality. The software is designed and programming developed. The stages include the architectural, interface, component, and database designs.

1. Architectural Design

This includes the overall design of the system: main components, subsystems, and their inter-relationships.

2. Interface Design

This involves the development of interfaces through which the different components of the system relate to each other. Once interfaces are designed, components can be developed simultaneously.

3. Component Design

Subsystems and components are designed at this stage and their operational modes established. In the event that components are re-used, the changes effected are documented.

4. Database Design

The systems data structures are designed and represented in a database.

Now, let's take a closer look at software validation.

Software Validation

This validation ensures that the software developed complies with the design specifications and the expectations of the system user. Various tests are carried out during this process:

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