What is a Computer Systems Analyst?

Also known as: Systems Analyst, Technology Project Manager, IT Project Manager.

A computer systems analyst is someone who analyzes a company's current computer systems and procedures, and then figures out a way to have the company operate in a more efficient and effective way by providing technology design solutions. They are the people that can bring business and information technology together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Computer systems analysts work closely with an organization's chief executives, as well as advise other technology team members to better understand how computer systems can best serve an organization.

What does a Computer Systems Analyst do?

The role of a computer systems analyst is to act like a digital investigator. They document technology systems in order to understand, change, improve, and help rebuild these systems. This might include finding out why a computer system is failing by using specific software to track applications, systems, databases, and networks.

At every stage of a systems development life cycle, computer systems analysts team up with computer programmers, user experience designers, and quality assurance testers to build computer systems. They typically specialize in certain types of computer systems that are specific to the industry they work with, such as engineering computer systems or financial computer systems. In some cases, these analysts are called IT project managers, since they keep track of a project’s progress to make sure that cost targets, deadlines and standards are met.

Computer systems analysts use data modeling to design computer systems (among other techniques), which gives them the opportunity to take a look at the processes and data flows even before any programs have been written. Once the programs have been written, in-depth tests will be conducted and information will be analyzed in order to pick up any trends in the data that can give a clue as to how to increase a system’s performance and efficiency.

Computer systems analysts also work out requirements for how much memory and speed the computer system needs, prepare flowcharts for engineers or programmers to use when building the system, and are involved in solving problems that come up after the initial system is set up. They often serve as information brokers, with the documentation prepared by computer systems analysts often becoming the final say on what a system is or does. In collaboration with technical writers, systems designers, and systems architects, they also document what can be expected in systems that haven’t been built yet.

The following are examples of types of computer systems analysts:

Systems Designers or Systems Architects
- specialize in choosing specific types of hardware and software systems, and decipher long-term business goals into technical solutions by developing a plan. They work with management, making sure that systems and technology infrastructures are set up to best serve a company's mission.

Software Quality Assurance (QA) Analysts
- make sure that critical system requirements are met by doing in-depth testing and diagnosing of problems. They also communicate to management by writing reports recommending ways to improve the systems.

Programmer Analysts
- do more coding and debugging than other types of analysts. They create applications customized to their company's needs, as well as design and update their system’s software. They determine what specific needs the applications are meant to address and work closely with management and business analysts to this end.

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What is the workplace of a Computer Systems Analyst like?

Computer systems analysts generally hold full-time positions, and for some, overtime is common. Analysts may work in a range of industries, such as healthcare companies, private businesses, and government agencies. They can work directly for a single corporation or be employed by a computer consulting firm. Much of their workload requires collaboration with other tech professionals. Some travel to clients' locations may be required for particular jobs and projects.

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Further Reading

  • Computer Systems Analyst www.thebalance.com

    A computer systems analyst helps a company or other organization use computer technology effectively and efficiently.

  • Words from the Wise - Meet Bettina Bair, Systems Analyst mycooljob.org

    MyCoolJob.org interviews Bettina Bair, a Systems Analyst, to get a sense of what a typical day is like.

  • Systems Analyst en.wikipedia.org

    A systems analyst is a person who uses analysis and design techniques to solve business problems using information technology. Systems analysts may serve as change agents who identify the organizational improvements needed, design systems to implement those changes, and train and motivate others to use the systems.

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