Data Analysis

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This chapter discusses the need for data analysis and the various techniques for accomplishing data analysis and producing the documentation which should be assembled as a result of it.

What Is Data Analysis?

A definition

Data analysis is that process which identifies, element by element, data requirements of a functional area. Each data element is defined from a business sense, its ownership is identified, users of that data are identified, and its sources are identified. These data elements are grouped into records, and a data structure is created which indicates the data dependencies.

Data analysis focuses on two aspects: data currently used by the user and data that will or should be needed in the future by the user. Current data is analyzed further to determine if it is being collected from the most accurate source, at the right time, and at the right level of detail. Current data analysis also tries to determine whether the correct business definitions of that data are being employed and whether all users of the same data define it and view it in the same manner.

What Is data event analysis?

As discussed in the previous chapter a data event is something which happens within the business environment which the company needs to know about and which must be recorded in the company memory, that is, the company files. A data event may be externally or internally generated and may occur through some action being taken or merely as a result of the passage of time.

The occurrence of data events recorded in some manner. Data event analysis determines what information must be recorded such that the event can be recalled and acted upon. It must also determine how that event became known to the company; that is, what triggered the company awareness of the event?

What Is transaction analysis?

Transaction analysis is coupled with data event analysis. Transaction analysis looks at the data carriers which move data and information around the firm. Some of these transactions may be externally generated and some are internally generated.

What Is document and forms analysis?

Document and forms analysis is a subset of data event and transaction analysis, and looks at the forms and documents which carry data through the firm. Its aim is to determine all the causes of data and whether the firm is saving and using all the data from those forms and documents in the most efficient manner. Document and forms analysis also looks to see whether the forms and documents are designed well; that is, are the data correctly identified; is there sufficient room on the form for the data to be entered; are the data clustered on the form properly; are there enough copies of the form; how, when, and where are they filed? Are the forms retained for the proper length of time; are they secured properly; are they filed and indexed properly; and can they be retrieved in a reasonable length of time?

What Is report analysis?

Report analysis concentrates on the outputs of data processing, regardless of whether that processing was automated or manual. Reports provide users with information deemed important to their activities. The analyst must determine whether all the reports received by the user are necessary and whether they are accurate, timely, or complete. Report content and report documentation must also be analyzed to determine if the user's understanding of the report's contents coincides with what the report actually presents. The analyst also must determine whether the user is receiving the report in enough detail, or too much detail, and whether it provides accurate or complete totals.

Data Analysis Questions

Although we have presented data analysis as a separate section, the questions pertaining to data have appeared in the chapters on function, process, and task analysis. The documentation of data has been discussed in the sections on the dictionary and in most of the preceding sections as well.

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A Professional's Guide to Systems Analysis, Second Edition
Written by Martin E. Modell
Copyright © 2007 Martin E. Modell
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

©2000 Martin E. Modell