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How to Make This Book Work for You

This book is a self-discovery learning tool. It contains a complete analysis project and a state-of-the-art textbook. You can make use of either, or both. Here’s how.

The book is divided into four sections. Each section is relatively self-contained in that it deals with a separate aspect of learning systems analysis. The sections are not intended to be read sequentially. You will read and work through each section in the order that is appropriate for your level of knowledge and skill. We will provide you with guidance and an appropriate trail to follow.

Section 1 contains the analysis project that you will work through. Each of the eighteen chapters in this section adds to your knowledge about the business to be analyzed and asks you to build various types of requirements models, to make some strategic decisions, and to raise questions about the business. In other words, the Project Section simulates the task of systems analysis.

We don’t know your exact level of systems analysis experience, so you will want to consult the Textbook in Section 2 as you need to while you go through the Project chapters. Rather than intermingling the text and the case study, we’ve presented the Project and the Textbook in separate sections to let you decide how much, and when, you want to make use of each of them.

The Textbook is an up-to-date treatise on systems analysis. Even after you have finished the Piccadilly Project, you will want to refer to the Textbook from time to time. Having it as a separate section makes it more convenient for ad hoc referencing and reading.

Figure 1.1.4

Figure 1.1.4: This book has four sections. Section 1 contains a complete analysis project. You will learn systems analysis by doing the project. Naturally we give you sample answers to the project exercises we assign; you’ll find these in Section 3, along with a discussion of our solutions. Along the way, you will use Section 2, the Textbook, which provides coaching on how to build the models and viewpoints used in the project. The Textbook contains exercises to practice your skills, and the answers are provided in Section 4.

For example, before you can build the requirements models for the Piccadilly Project, you have to know the modeling language. The Textbook contains tutorial material on how to build data flow diagrams, entity-relationship diagrams, event-response models, the data dictionary, and all the other analysis models. Before you can build these models, however, you will need something more. Analysis models do not show the entire system, but rather focus on one particular aspect at a time. We call this focus a viewpoint. You will use viewpoints to emphasize the information that is necessary at the time, which makes the analysis of complex systems much easier. So the Textbook includes a discourse on effective viewpoints, describes ways of modeling them, and discusses when each viewpoint is useful.

We strongly believe that when a book assigns exercises, or asks questions, it should provide the answers. As you work through the Project exercises, you will need to refer to Section 3, where we provide a suggested solution to each problem, along with a discussion of how we came up with our answer. We think you’ll find the discussion almost as educational as doing the Project.

The Textbook section also introduces short exercises to build proficiency using a model. We suggest you complete these exercises before using each model in the Project. Naturally, there are answers and discussions for the exercises. You will find them in Section 4.

This arrangement means that you will be jumping back and forth between sections: from reading about the Project to the Textbook; reading the Textbook and doing the exercises; jumping to the Textbook Solutions, back to the Project; doing the Project assignment; studying the Project Reviews; turning to the Project and back to the Textbook again. The precise route you’ll take depends on your level of experience, and what use you want to make of this book. Navigation through the chapters may seem difficult at first, so we have introduced Trail Guides to assist you in finding your way. The Trail Guides are explained below.

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