1. Designer Level Role
System designers translate system users’ business requirements and constraints into technical solutions. They design the computer files, databases, inputs, outputs, screens, networks, and programs that will meet the system users’ requirements. System designers are interested in information technology choices and the design of systems within the constraints of the chosen
technology. Today’s system designers tend to focus on technical specialties such as databases, networks, user interfaces, or software. System builders represent another category of information system development roles. System builders construct the information system components based on the design specifications from the system designers. In many cases, the system designer and builder for a component are one and the same. The applications programmer is the classic example of a system builder. However, other technical specialists may also be involved, such as systems programmers, database programmers, network administrators, and microcomputer software specialists. One knowledge worker plays a special role in information systems development, the systems analyst.
2. Consultant Level Role
Another significant trend in information systems development is the use of consultants. Consulting is the act of contracting with an outside vendor to assume responsibility for or participate in one or more IT projects. This differs from outsourcing in that the consulting engagement typically ends when the project is completed. It is a shorter-term obligation. Also, the consultants work directly with their client’s IT staff on the project. The IT staff members continue to be employees of the client organization, unlike in outsourcing. Well-known management and systems consulting firms build information systems and applications for other organizations. Why wouldn’t an organization build all systems through its own information systems unit? Perhaps the information systems unit is understaffed. Perhaps the unit’s management is looking for technical expertise that its own staff doesn’t (yet) possess. Perhaps management is looking for an unbiased opinion and fresh ideas. The list of reasons is endless. Systems analysts employed by consulting firms are usually called systems consultants. They are lent (for a fee) to the client for engagements (a consulting term that means “project”) that result in a new system for the client. Once the engagement is completed, they are reassigned to a new engagement, usually for a different organization. IT consulting firms represent an attractive employment option for aspiring systems analysts. The engagements tend to be very challenging and provide a wide variety of exposure and experiences. Also, consulting firms tend to keep their consultants on the cutting edge of technology and techniques to better compete for business. For college graduates who are particularly well schooled in the latest systems analysis and design methods, consulting firms represent an interesting and challenging employment alternative