The American statistician, William Edwards Deming, once said: “A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system.” This sentiment certainly applies to the I.T. and telecommunications world. Computer systems and networks must satisfy business objectives, otherwise they are pointless.
Systems and network analysts are thus required to use their technical knowledge and their business acumen to conduct detailed analyses and make sure that I.T. solutions meet their clients’ needs.
Every I.T. and telecommunications project incorporates an analysis phase, whether the project involves the development of a new computer system or network, or the adaptation of pre-existing ones.
What do systems analysts and network analysts do?
Systems analysts and network analysts both use analytical processes and methodologies to ensure that I.T. solutions meet business needs, benefit their client in a number of ways and are cost-effective.
However, systems analysts work specifically on systems-focused projects (e.g. operating systems, databases and content management systems), whereas network analysts deal specifically with network issues, such as server load balancing, network security, routers and firewalls.
These guys might be employed by public sector organisations, private companies or I.T. consultancy firms. After a few years, many systems and network analysts become independent contractors and can earn a decent amount of money.
The key thing that sets network and systems analysts apart from technical engineers and business analysts is their fantastic mix of technological knowledge and business insights. These professionals need to know their clients’ businesses inside-out and know their way around a computer system or network.
What makes a successful systems or network analyst?
They forever need to stay up to date with latest I.T. technologies and techniques. They also regularly liaise with people, both on the business side of things and the technical side of things. They consequently need excellent and adaptable communication skills, the ability to work as part of a team and the organisational skills to work independently.
Systems and network analysts are logical, analytical, decisive and precise. Many analysts are educated to degree level. This is usually in a computer-related subject, but this is by no means an essential requirement, as the key skills to working in this area are analysis and problem-solving.
Some analysts may also develop their skills through vocational and professional courses. For people who want to work in this area and have not come from an I.T. academic background, there is always the possibility of doing a postgraduate I.T. conversion course.
Is there a difference between the tasks of a systems or network analyst?
Whilst systems and network analysts deal with different specialist technical areas, they both employ similar methods, processes and procedures in their analytical work. Every I.T. solution project is different, and therefore a technical analyst’s responsibilities may change between each one.
However, on the whole they will carry out a lot of the same tasks. One of these, a big part of the technical analyst’s initial task, is to conduct a feasibility study. This involves analysing the business objectives and the proposed I.T. solution, and then working out if the project is feasible in terms of finance, timescales, technological limitations and usability by its end-users.
The next stage might then involve requirements gathering and analysis. This step involves getting to understand the requirements of the users by conducting interviews, distributing questionnaires and making visual observations of people’s use of current systems.
What is the role of a technical analyst?
Technical analysts also have to weigh up the potential benefits and problems of the proposed solution, in terms of finance, business impact, technological scalability and stress on the servers. This lot will constantly need to liaise with both the business and technical teams in order to understand and communicate the potential limitations of the proposed solution.
Once all the analysis has been done, they will write a technical scope document, which enhances the initial business plan. This will then be used by technical teams as a guide throughout the hands-on, technical part of the project.
Analysts will also define implementation timelines and identify potential cost implications. They might also recommend software, hardware, specific systems or server equipment that will meet the needs of the solution.
More often than not, systems and network analysts won’t stop once the technical scope has been written and handed over. They will also oversee the implementation phase from a consultative perspective and ensure that everything is implemented according to the detailed technical and business proposals.
Having documented and recorded every part of their work as they went along, they may also help to construct user manuals for the users of the new computer system or network function.
This subsector is perfect for those of you who are not only seriously into the tech side of things, but are also pretty business-savvy. If this appeals to you, then why not consider a career in systems and network analysis? Apply for some graduate jobs and get down with the system!