Preliminary investigation is the first step in the system development project. It is a way of handling the user’s request to change, improve or enhance an existing system. System investigation includes the following two stages:
1. Problem definition:
The first responsibility of a system analyst is to prepare a written statement of the objectives of the problem. Based on interviews with the user, the analyst writes a brief description of his/her understanding of the problem and reviews it with both the groups. People respond to written statements. They ask for clarifications and they correct obvious errors or misunderstandings. That is why a clear statement of objectives is important. In other words, proper understanding of the problem is essential to discover the cause of the problem and to plan a directed investigation by asking questions like what is being done. Why? Is there an underlying reason different from the one the user identifies? Following are some possible definitions of problems:
a. The existing system has a poor response time
b. It is unable to handle the workload.
c. The problem of cost, that is the economic system is not feasible.
d. The problem of accuracy and reliability
e. The required information is not produced by the existing system
f. The problem of security.
2. Feasibility study:
The actual meaning of feasibility is viability. This study is undertaken to know the likelihood of the system being useful to the organization. The aim of feasibility study is to assess alternative systems and to propose the most feasible and desirable system for development.
Thus, feasibility study provides an overview of the problem and acts as an important checkpoint that should be completed before committing more resources. The feasibility of a proposed system can be assessed in terms of four major categories as given below:
a) Organizational feasibility: the extent to which a proposed information system supports the objective of the organization’s strategic plan for information systems determines the organizational feasibility of the system project.
b) Economic feasibility: In this study, costs and returns are evaluated to know whether returns justify the investment in the system project.
c) Technical feasibility: whether reliable hardware and software, capable of meeting the needs of the proposed system can be acquired or developed by the organizations in the required time is a major concern of the technical feasibility.
d) Operational feasibility: the willingness and ability of the management, employees, customers, suppliers, etc to operate, use and support a proposed system come under operational feasibility. In other words, the test of operational feasibility asks if the system will work when it is developed and installed.