The role of the systems analyst is to straddle the divide between identifying business needs and imagining a new or redesigned computer-based system to fulfill those needs. This individual will work with a person, team, or department with business requirements and identify the specific details of a system that needs to be built. Generally, this will require the analyst to have a good understanding of the business itself , the business processes involved, and the ability to document them well. The analyst will identify the different stakeholders in the system and work to involve the appropriate individuals in the process.
Once the requirements are determined, the analyst will begin the process of translating these requirements into an information-systems design. A good analyst will understand what different technological solutions will work and provide several different alternatives to the requester, based on the company’s budgetary constraints, technology constraints, and culture. Once the solution is selected, the analyst will create a detailed document describing the new system. This new document will require that the analyst understand how to speak in the technical language of systems developers.
A systems analyst generally is not the one who does the actual development of the information system. The design document created by the systems analyst provides the detail needed to create the system and is handed off to a programmer (or team of programmers) to do the actual creation of the system. In some cases, however, a systems analyst may go ahead and create the system that he or she designed. This person is sometimes referred to as a programmer-analyst.
In other cases, the system may be assembled from off-the-shelf components by a person called a systems integrator. This is a specific type of systems analyst that understands how to get different software packages to work with each other.
To become a systems analyst, you should have a background both in the business and in systems design. Many analysts first worked as programmers and/or had experience in the business before becoming systems analysts.