Systems Analysis & Design in an Age of Options

Systems Analysis & Design in an Age of Options

Edition 1.0 | Copyright 2021 | Publication Date: July 2020

Gary Spurrier, University of Alabama
Heikki Topi, Bentley University


Systems Analysis and Design in an Age of Options presents an integrated approach to navigating the numerous and highly consequential choices surrounding the modern practice of Systems Analysis and Design (SA&D). This reflects the vigorous discussion and debate in the field regarding:

  • Use of plan-driven, agile and hybrid project and requirements methodologies
  • Tailoring SA&D for constructing new system features vs. configuring commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software
  • Use of structured vs. object oriented (OO) techniques

The textbook squarely addresses the reality that all these approaches represent viable options for SA&D that are used in different circumstances and frequently blended in practice. As such, the textbook presents well-defined procedures for optimally choosing among these options and helps the students acquire the skills for executing them. To explicate these challenges, the textbook introduces an original systems development process framework. This framework organizes the material and prepares students to artfully combine and optimize choices among these options within a single project.

The textbook emphasizes the role of the business analyst as a key creative actor in systems development projects throughout all project tasks and phases. It supports the students’ growth towards the mastery of business analyst competencies, including requirements analysis, system design and construction, and project management.

If you would like to read more from a theoretical and practice-based perspective on this textbook's approach see the authors' publication in:
Journal of Information Systems Education


For blogs about the textbook, click on a subject below:


Focus on Practice.
Prepare students for challenging, important careers with a perspective that reflects the realities of how SA&D is practiced today.

Intelligent Modeling.
Understand how to find a balance between creating detailed requirements (i.e., Big Requirements Up Front or BRUF) as the hallmark of plan-driven SA&D vs. emergent requirements, which is the approach commonly used in agile.

Hybrid Approach.
Learn how to powerfully employ elements of both plan-driven and agile approaches in a single project, optimizing the combination of these two approaches based on project characteristics.

Anticipate the Construction-Configuration Decision.
Learn to intelligently perform just enough initial modeling to determine whether to select and configure a third-party COTS product or construct a new system.

Build the Business Case.
Learn to determine the merits of a project through extensive cost-benefit analyses and prepare a thoughtful case for evaluation.

Plan Sprint-Based Construction.
Integrate traditional project management techniques needed for overall project planning with agile techniques for deriving a product backlog and mapping the backlog’s features to software construction iterations.

Lead Sprint-Based Construction.
Utilize a variety of modern techniques to execute, evaluate, and improve iterative software construction cycles.

Prepare for Implementation.
Learn how to effectively implement systems via change management and deployment. Includes advanced DevOps deployment approaches, including determining when DevOps is most appropriate and valuable.

Flexible Delivery.
The textbook can be used for different course emphases, including overall coverage of these topics, a focus on SA&D requirements, or a focus on project management. Suggested chapter sequences are provided for each.

Alternative and Varied Semester-Long Projects.
Use of these ongoing cases provides practice with the concepts described throughout the textbook. Having four cases provides more options for designing your course and for changing things up from semester to semester. Two of these cases are embedded in the textbook. Two additional cases are provided on the instructors resources site.



"I am excited to teach from the book a second time – the course went marvelously the first time around. I had several students tell me they were able to talk intelligently about hybrid software development methodology during successful internship interviews.

It baffles me that so many programs are still teaching from those old waterfall-oriented texts that have discussion of Agile wedged into nooks and crannies and bonus chapters. My compliments to Spurrier and Topi for writing a modern SA&D textbook from ground up."
— Keith Weber, Rochester Institute of Technology


"[I]t reads differently from the texts we have gotten used to. What I mean is that it reflects more of my consulting experience than my teaching experience…"
"I think it feels more modern than most current texts. It appreciates the changing practices of today's developers."
— Dr. Bay Arinze, Drexel University

"It reflects the real-world and is written in an easy-to-read format. There are great end-of-chapter problems and questions as well."
— Dr. Nancy Martin, Southern Illinois University

"This gives students a way to see what happens in the field, the importance of the topic, and then slowly introduces them to the topics discussed in the book."
— Dr. Mohammad I. Merhi, Indiana University South Bend

"[T]he book makes it very clear - it is about modern systems and how they are analyzed and designed. That is refreshing."
— Dr. Subhajyoti Bandyopadhyay, University of Florida


“[I]t is just what my students need. Many of them intern and have opportunities to work in organizations that use agile approaches and now particularly DevOps. It’s important that these approaches be covered in the curriculum. It’s great that the book provides a practice-focused approach.”
"I like that it separates cost/benefit analysis into its own chapter. In other texts, it is often a subsection of a larger chapter and can become overwhelming for some students."
— Dr. Nancy Martin, Southern Illinois University

"The hybrid approach sold me on this text."
"I'm quite excited about this text because it reinforces what I teach and saves me from developing new material each semester."
“I’m usually a tough reviewer and known for being very picky. So, I’m quite surprised at finding no obvious flaws in the presentation."
— Dr. Kevin R. Parker, Idaho State University

"[T]he authors have done a good job of providing the chapter sequences for courses with different areas of focus..."
— Dr. Narasimha S. Paravastu, University of Central Missouri

"I like chapter 5 as it highlights and fleshes out the choice between agile and plan-based approaches."
— Dr. Bay Arinze, Drexel University


"Easy to follow. Simple and lucid explanation of concepts."
— Dr. Narasimha S. Paravastu, University of Central Missouri

“[I] find the writing quite engaging.”
— Dr. Subhajyoti Bandyopadhyay, University of Florida

“I liked the language used in the chapters. It is so easy for students.”
— Dr. Mohammad I. Merhi, Indiana University South Bend


Table of Contents

Detailed Table of Contents PDF

Part I: Essence and Evolution of Systems Analysis and Design
Chapter 1: Systems Analysis and Designing an Age of Options

Part II: Business Analysis
Chapter 2: Identifying Opportunities for Business Transformation with IT
Chapter 3: Identifying and Documenting the Key Concepts of the Domain of Interest
Chapter 4: Articulating Future System Capabilities with User Stories and UI Models

Part III: Planning the Project and Selecting an Implementation Approach
Chapter 5: Selecting the Optimal Project Approach
Chapter 6: Project Planning and Creating the Product Backlog
Chapter 7: Identifying Development Options: Selecting Implementation Approach and Determining Sources of Resources

Part IV: Functional Design and System Architecture
Chapter 8: When and How to Create Use Case Narratives
Chapter 9: Architectural Context for Systems Development

Part V: Building a Business Case for the Project
Chapter 10: Estimating Software Projects Effectively
Chapter 11: Estimating Business Benefits and Evaluating the Systems Investment
Chapter 12: Planning to Succeed with Project Documents

Part VI: Technical Design and Construction of the System
Chapter 13: Designingthe User Experience and User Interfaces
Chapter 14: Construction: Role of BA in Technical Design
Chapter 15: Leading Iterative Software Construction
Chapter 16: Making the Changes Real: Systems Change Management and Deployment

About the Authors

Dr. Gary Spurrier is an Assistant Professor of Practice of Management Information Systems in the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama. He earned his PhD in Management Information Systems at Indiana University in 1995. Prior to returning to academia, he spent over 20 years in industry. His work experience includes roles as a CIO, COO, product manager, software development project leader, and consultant. His research focuses on developing pragmatic and effective approaches to the development of enterprise software.

Gary Spurrier

Dr. Heikki Topi has always integrated multiple dimensions into his academic career, including scholarship, teaching, curriculum development, and administration. He earned his PhD in Management Information Systems at Indiana University in 1995, where he met Dr. Spurrier. He is currently Chair of the Computing Information Systems Department at Bentley University. Previously, he has served as Associate Dean at two institutions and as Director of Bentley Data Innovation Network. His current research focuses on enterprise systems usability and SA&D methodologies.

Dr. Topi is a leader in computing education. He has been actively involved in national computing curriculum development and evaluation efforts including IS 2002, CC 2005, CC 2020 and as co-chair of IS 2010 and MSIS 2016, the latest IS curriculum recommendations. He serves currently as AIS VP of Education and member of the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission. Earlier, he was member of the ACM Education Board and the CSAB Board of Directors.

Dr. Topi has received various lifetime teaching achievement awards including the Distinguished IS Educator Award from EDSIG in 2017; the Outstanding Contribution to IS Education Award from AIS in 2015; and the CSAB Outstanding Achievement Award both in 2015 and 2016.

Heikki Topi

Instructor Resources

Prospect Press provides instructors with an instructor manual, lecture slides and a test bank for each title.
Some texts have additional resources including case teaching notes, tutorials, and addenda.
This content is available to instructors only and is password protected.

Resources Login


About the book
Cost-Benefit Analysis Techniques
Intelligent Modeling
Radar Chart
Role of the Business Analyst
Systems Development Process Framework

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