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Job Photographs

  • A woman sits at a desk, using a computer and speaking on the telephone.

    Talking to a client to find out what they require from a new computer system.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  She is reading a large Braille document, which is open on her lap.  There is a large white folder on the desk.

    Redesigning a computer system. She is using a Braille document for reference.

  • Someone is typing on a large white computer keyboard with one hand, while using some Braille equipment with the other hand.

    After designing a system, this systems analyst uses Braille equipment to help her to draw up guidelines for a programmer to use.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a laptop computer.

    Writing a report.

  • Two men and a woman sit in an office, talking.  One of the men is pointing to something on a paper document, which he is holding; the other two people are looking at it.

    Discussing the usability of the system with project managers.

  • A man sits facing away from an office desk, reading a journal.

    Keeping up to date with new developments in the industry.

  • A man, wearing a white shirt, sits at a desk near a window.  He is using a laptop computer.  There is also a telephone on the desk, together with a stack of paper documents.

    Evaluating a new computer system.

  • A man and woman are sitting in an office, talking.  They are both holding paper documents.  The woman's document is in Braille.

    Meeting with a colleague to discuss the redesign of an out-of-date computer system.

Computer Systems Analyst

Introduction

Systems analysts adapt and design information systems, to help organisations work more quickly and efficiently. They work closely with staff at all levels to find out the problems people have with the existing system, and what they hope a new system will achieve. Analysts produce a specification for a system that will meet the organisation's needs.

Also known as

  • Systems Analyst
  • Business Analyst, IT

Work Activities

Systems analysts use information technology (IT) to help organisations to work more quickly and efficiently. They investigate a business problem and then design or adapt a computer system to improve the way the business works. They are also known as business analysts or business systems analysts.

In many ways, systems analysts work as closely with people as they do with computers. At the start of a project, they talk to computer users and managers to find out what problems there are, and what the organisation wants to achieve by investing in a new or improved system.

For example, a business might want to reduce costs or increase the speed or scale of production.

Systems analysts carry out a detailed study of the organisation, its procedures and the needs of the people who use its systems. Analysts gather information by talking to staff at all levels within the organisation.

Next, they look at this information and design a computer system (or a number of systems) that meets the organisation's needs. Analysts then write a system specification, describing business rules, how the new system will work, the new equipment or software that the organisation will need to buy, and the level of training staff will need.

Once an organisation's management has picked and approved the system, the analyst starts to work closely with IT specialists, systems designers and developers to create the system.

Systems analysts are more likely to update or redesign an out-of-date system rather than introduce a totally new one.

Analysts might be involved in planning or carrying out the introduction of the new system, and in training users. They might write user guides.

When a project is complete, analysts look carefully at the new system to make sure that it does what it was supposed to and that users are happy with it.

Although systems analysts often have an office from which they work, they sometimes have to travel to visit users, departments or organisations that need their skills. They might also travel to meet representatives from companies that supply IT equipment.

In some organisations, a developer/analyst might be responsible for the whole process of analysing needs, designing an appropriate system, writing and developing programs.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a systems or business analyst, you'll need:

  • To enjoy solving problems and weighing up the pros and cons of different solutions.
  • A logical, analytical and investigative mind, together with creative abilities.
  • An understanding of computing and programming techniques.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • A good general awareness of how businesses operate.
  • Good listening skills and the ability to ask the right questions.
  • Tact, diplomacy and good negotiating skills.
  • The ability and willingness to find out about the particular department or organisation that needs your help.
  • Good report-writing skills.

You will also need to be able to:

  • Work closely with staff at all levels throughout an organisation.
  • Explain your ideas confidently, clearly and concisely.
  • Work under pressure to manage projects and meet deadlines.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Salaries for computer systems analysts vary depending on the range of their responsibilities, and the size and type of company they work for. The pay rates given below are approximate.

Systems analysts earn in the range of £20,000 - £28,500 a year, rising to £37,000 - £52,000. Higher earners can make over £55,000 a year.

Salaries could include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.

Hours of work

Systems analysts usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday.

Where could I work?

Jobs exist with employers in industry and commerce, including banks, building societies and insurance companies, and in the public sector, for example, with local and central government departments and the NHS.

Opportunities for systems or business analysts occur in cities and some towns around the UK. A significant number of vacancies for IT and telecoms professionals are in London and the South East of England.

What's happening in this work area?

The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next decade. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.

One reason for this strength is the realisation, by the global economy, of the importance of IT in helping businesses to survive the recession and economic downturn. Investment in technology is also viewed by many as a way for public bodies to become more efficient.

There is a shortage of candidates with IT skills and qualifications in the UK.

Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:

  • teamworking skills
  • good communication skills
  • business skills.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced systems analysts to work on a self-employed, consultancy basis - usually on short-term contract work.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.

Short-term contract work is found through specialist IT recruitment agencies.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most entrants are graduates.

However, a Higher Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start.

A degree in a computing subject, such as business information systems, might give you an advantage. However, employers might also recruit graduates with a degree in another subject, providing all the necessary IT training. Business studies is one of the most relevant non-IT subjects.

Some applicants have programming or related skills, or postgraduate IT qualifications. E-skills has teamed up with employers and universities to offer a degree in Software Development for Business.

Full-time and part-time foundation degrees are offered in various computing and business subjects. These can be topped up to a full degree after further study.

A number of universities offer the Information Technology Management for Business degree that has been jointly developed with major employers. Some universities and employers offer internships or student placements that develop business, communication and interpersonal skills.

Training

Some systems analysts study part-time for further qualifications, for example, the professional qualifications of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, or the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS).

They also attend short training courses on current techniques in IT and business analysis.

Progression

Experienced systems analysts can progress into project management, IT management or consultancy.

Qualifications

Most computer systems analysts are graduates.

The usual entry requirement for a degree in a relevant subject such as business information systems is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and Maths at GCSE.
Maths might be required at A level for some relevant courses.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

To get onto a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will need at least two A Levels, or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Some entrants have relevant programming or IT project management skills.

Some employers, such as computer consultancies, prefer applicants with an IT/computing degree.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

Distance learning opportunities include the Open University's degree and postgraduate courses in computing subjects.

The University of Portsmouth offers degrees in Business Information Systems and also Computing and Information Systems by distance learning.

Queen Mary, University of London offers an MSc in Computing Information Systems by distance learning.

Statistics

  • 11% of people in occupations such as computer systems analyst are self-employed.
  • 4% work part-time.
  • 26% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Capita Learning and Development

Tel: 0800 0223410

Email: hello@capitalearning.co.uk

Website: www.capita-ld.co.uk

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Guardian Technology

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU

Tel: 020 3353 2000

Email: tech@guardian.co.uk

Website: www.guardian.co.uk/technology

Computeach

Address: University House, Jews Lane, Gornal, Dudley, West Midlands DY3 2AH

Tel: 01384 458515

Email: info@computeach.co.uk

Website: www.computeach.co.uk

Institution of Analysts and Programmers (IAP)

Address: Boundary House, Boston Road, London W7 2QE

Tel: 020 8434 3685

Email: admin@iap.org.uk

Website: www.iap.org.uk

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)

Address: Suite A, (Part) 2nd Floor, 3 White Oak Square, Swanley, Kent BR8 7AG

Tel: 0845 8500006

Email: central@imis.org.uk

Website: www.imis.org.uk/information/careers_information

Professional Issues in Information Technology

Author: Frank Bott Publisher: Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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