OBSERVING THE CURRENT SYSTEM
The analyst may want to observe the existing system personally by following transaction. such as in invoice, through it. Direct observation allows the analyst to verify his or her understanding of the system. Instead of getting second-hand impressions about a specific task, the analyst can experience the actual process. However, he or she must remain outside the flow as an observer, so as not to introduce biases or changes in actual procedures. Observing a system requires caution, when people know they are being observed. They usually behave differently, working more efficiently and at higher speeds to impress the analyst.
In some instances, the analyst may find it useful to visit another organization with a computerized system similar to the one under study. Finding a comparable installation may pose a problem, however. Some competitive organizations may not want to share their experiences, others may be too large or too small for accurate comparisons, and still others may be unwilling to waste employees’ time demonstrating their system. Whenever visiting another organization, an analyst should follow the rules of etiquette: make an appointment, research the organization beforehand, know what he or she wants to see, and write a follow-up, thank you letter.
Hardware and software vendors can also supply valuable information. Computer sales representatives will gladly share their experiences with potential clients, and software firms will send brochures describing their programs. Although very useful information from such sources should be reviewed carefully because vendors are more interested in promoting their products than in solving your problems.