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What is Information Systems Engineering?

R. Kimball
R. Kimball

Information systems engineering incorporates all aspects of building and maintaining complex systems that solve real problems. Systems engineering begins with the analysis of the problem to be solved by an information system, goes through design and development of the system, and ends with the integration of the final solution. This discipline is open to those with information technology backgrounds and those with technical business backgrounds. Systems engineering tends to cut across all engineering areas so that its practitioners may craft flexible solutions to problems.

Engineers first work to define the problem that needs a solution. Each engineer must thoroughly analyze the problem in order to work toward creating a solution. This analysis phase of information systems engineering is crucial to creation of the final product. The engineer must exercise control and discipline to assess the entirety of the problem. Faulty analysis may lead to an inaccurate or incomplete solution to the problem.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

System design work begins once the analysis phase is complete. The information created in the analysis phase will lead the information systems engineering process toward a system design that incorporates the steps needed to solve the business problem. Generally, the system design is complicated when the original problem was complex; however, if during the problem analysis the engineers broke the problem down into small steps, the system design might be less complicated.

After the system goes through several rounds of design discussion, the information systems engineering process then moves onto development of the system itself. Depending upon the type of information system being created, the engineers may write code, purchase software applications, or use existing systems to pull together the solution. Some information systems are a combination of code written by the group designing the solution and third-party programs. The designated time frame in which the solution must be ready for use might also determine the amount of custom code created for the system.

Integration of the solution throughout the organization is the final stage of implementing the system in the information systems engineering process. This stage includes using knowledge of the system to adapt business processes or other application domains to work with the system itself. Each of the different business areas must understand its position within the information system in order for the system to work correctly and efficiently. Integration helps each business unit manage its part of the system.

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      Scientist with beakers