Robertson's Complete Systems Analysis almost fills gap.

Important systems analysis textbook

Reviewed by Conrad Weisert, October, 1994



Readers of the IDI Newsletter know that I've been searching for a satisfactory textbook on systems analysis. A year ago I gave a qualified endorsement to two excellent but incomplete 1989 books:

In that comparative review I also found two other popular books to be seriously flawed. Clearly, we've been needing a solid treatment of an enlightened approach to systems analysis -- not just structured documentation techniques, not just the latest object-oriented methodologies, not just some "rapid" fad, but the whole milieu. That need was felt both in academic courses and by practioners.

James and Susan Robertson's 2-volume work goes a long way toward meeting that need.

The methodology is classic DeMarco structured analysis. One regrets a few archaic Yourdonisms, such as "bubble" (for function or process) and "minispec" (for logic specification or function specification) as well as the old-fashioned quasi-hand-drawn diagrams that look nothing like the output of any modern computerized tool. A short chapter on the object-oriented approach barely scratches the surface.

Those shortcomings aren't fatal. I recommend this book to both course instructors and working professionals. Lucid explanations lead the reader through well-motivated, thorough examples. Having taught systems analysis courses, I know well the challenge of finding a case study (a) small enough to be covered, (b) not so small as to appear trivial, and (c) original enough to be interesting. The Robertsons' examples succeed well.

The words "interview" and "observation" don't appear in the index. However the narratives, written in a friendly style, frequently convey a solid sense of a realistic organization milieu.

A lengthy bibliography ignores most competition (even the pioneering and classic Structured Systems Analysis by Gane & Sarson).

Innovative structure
Complete Systems Analysis is packaged as a 2 by 2 matrix of sections:

Volume I: (workbook / textbook) Volume 2: (the answers)
Section 1: Project case studies. Section 2: Methodology tutorial and reference.
Section 3: Case-study deliverables Section 4: Textbook solutions.

Very highly recommended


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Last modified 5 November, 2003