Authors: Alan Dennis, Barbara Haley Wixom and Roberta M. Roth
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons – 563 pages
Book Review by:  Krishnan Ramamurthy

This book has been organized and written in such a way that students do not just read it but get practical use of it. The authors – experienced analysts and designers of information systems themselves – want students working on a research project to understand the issues involved in it so that they can correctly analyze and design systems that are effective.

Alan Dennis, Barbara Wixom and Roberta M. Roth write that systems analysis and design is a dynamic field in which its practitioners “continually learn new approaches and techniques to develop systems more effectively and efficiently.”

They point out that all information systems have four phases: planning, analysis, design and implementation. They want users of this book to be able to:

  • Gather the requirements of a project
  • Model the business needs
  • Incorporate an understanding of change management and team building
  • Create blueprints for how the system should be built

The authors want learners to focus on systems analysis and design and acquire the core set of skills that they present in this book.

The six main features of this book that makes it unique and action-oriented are its:

  1. Focus on doing systems analysis and design
  2. Rich examples of success and failure
  3. Incorporation of object-oriented concepts and techniques
  4. Real-world focus
  5. Project approach
  6. Graphic organization

Online Resources

Besides its well-organized content presented in four parts, the book offers helpful online resources such as an Online Instructor’s Manual; Online Instructor’s Resources; WebCT and Blackboard Courses; a Student Web Site; two CASE (Computer-assisted software engineering) tools that can be purchased with the text, namely Visible Student Edition from Visible Student Corporation, and Microsoft’s Visio; and other project management software detailed below.

A 60-day trial edition of Microsoft Project can be purchased by students with the text. Educational institutions adopting this Wiley textbook can get a free three-year membership to the MSDN Alliance, which provides an inexpensive way for them to acquire the latest Microsoft software for classrooms, labs and instructors’ and students’ personal computers.

The material in this highly useful book is presented in four parts containing 14 chapters. Parts One to Four deal respectively with the four phases of information systems projects, namely planning, analysis, design and implementation.

The book provides a brief contents page simply naming the titles of the four chapters and the 14 chapters within them, as well as an eight-page contents section that details the topics and subtopics in each chapter, enabling the student to do a random in-depth study of any single topic that interests him or her, or a step-by-step study of different topics.

Chapters have information laid out in a systematic manner, with each one having a paragraph that provides an overview, followed by Objectives, Chapter Outline and an Introduction. There are also boxes entitled Concepts in Action, Spotlight and Your Turn.

Numerous charts and tables are provided throughout the book making for easier absorption of material. Towards the end of each chapter are a Summary with brief paragraphs on a number of topics; Key Terms to remember, Questions; Exercises; Minicases and Appendices.

This is the fifth edition of a very informative, well thought out and planned, purposeful, hands-on book that makes for easier learning and better understanding of design and analysis of information systems. Its project-focused approach to learning is clever, incisive and unique. I believe strongly that students need to learn do things and acquire skills that make them more useful as professionals, and have a competitive edge. We commend the authors for the hard work they have put into producing this excellent volume.