The systems survey, often called a feasibility study or preliminary feasibility study, is a set of procedures conducted to determine the feasibility of a potential systems development project and to prepare a systems development plan for projects considered feasible. Each step in the SDLC has goals that support the systems development objectives. An organization conducts a systems survey to determine whether it is worthwhile to proceed with subsequent development steps.
The systems survey goals are as follows:
• Identify the nature and the extent of systems development by determining for each reported problem the problem’s existence and nature.
• Determine the scope of the problem.
• Propose a course of action that might solve the problem. Determine the feasibility of any proposed development.
• Is there a technically, economically, and operationally feasible solution to the problem?
• Devise a detailed plan for conducting the analysis step.
• Determine who will conduct the analysis, who will head the project team, what tasks are required, and what the development timetable is.
• Devise a summary plan for the entire development project.
The first task in the systems survey is to gather facts. In the systems survey, the analyst gathers facts to achieve the systems survey goals. That is, facts are gathered to determine the nature and scope of the reported problem, to perform the feasibility study, and to plan the development project. The analyst tries to determine what the system does now and what we would like for it to do.
To determine what the system is doing, we look at the system’s documentation and examine the system’s operation. To determine what the system should be doing, we obtain information from users and authoritative sources. The extent of fact gathering must be consistent with cost and time constraints imposed on the systems survey.
That is, the systems survey must be conducted as quickly and as inexpensively as possible, yet still accomplish its goals. If the project goes beyond the systems survey, additional, more detailed facts will be gathered during structured systems analysis. Systems developers use a number of tools to gather facts.