Information Systems Analysts and Consultants - What They Do

Information systems analysts and consultants analyze and test systems requirements, develop and implement information systems development plans, policies and procedures, and provide advice on a wide range of information systems issues. They are employed in information technology consulting firms and in information technology units throughout the public and private sectors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Information systems business analysts and consultants
  • Confer with clients to identify and document requirements
  • Conduct business and technical studies
  • Design, develop, integrate, test and implement information systems business solutions
  • Provide advice on information systems strategy, policy, management, security and service delivery.
  • Systems security analysts
  • Confer with clients to identify and document requirements, assess physical and technical security risks to data, software and hardware
  • Develop policies, procedures and contingency plans to minimize the effects of security breaches.
  • Information systems quality assurance analysts
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures throughout the software development life cycle to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and overall quality of software products and information systems.
  • Systems auditors
  • Conduct independent third-party reviews to assess quality assurance practices, software products and information systems.

Job titles

  • information systems quality assurance analyst
  • computer systems analyst
  • management information systems (MIS) analyst
  • informatics consultant
  • IT (information technology) consultant
  • informatics security analyst
  • systems security analyst
  • information systems business analyst
  • systems auditor
  • systems consultant
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • A bachelor's degree in computer science, computer systems engineering, software engineering, business administration or a related discipline or Completion of a college program in computer science is usually required.
  • Experience as a computer programmer is usually required.
  • Certification or training provided by software vendors may be required by some employers.

Essential Skills


  • Read messages about ongoing work from co-workers, colleagues and clients. (2)
  • Read about new products in marketing materials such as brochures, pamphlets and product information sheets. For example, they may learn about ad hoc query and reporting analysis tools that can publish information from data warehouses. (2)
  • Read comments, suggestions and responses to frequently asked questions posted on Internet 'listservs' and forums. For example, they may read about new ways to test database platforms. (2)
  • Read about new technologies and their applications in professional journals, industry magazines and periodicals. For example, they may read articles that discuss the arrival of radically restructured database architectures. (3)
  • Read about database applications, application platforms, computer languages and hardware in reference and technical manuals. They require a strong understanding of information system technology to understand and apply technical information in these lengthy and complex manuals. (4)
  • Read about information systems development projects and requirements in documents such as requests for proposals, business plans and reports. They read these documents for detailed information on a broad range of topics such as technical specifications, project deliverables, timelines and financial constraints. (4)

Document use

  • Scan tables to locate technical specifications and data such as passwords, dates, names and product identifiers. (1)
  • Record project activities such as dates, times and actions taken in log books. For example, they may record the length time that systems are down in log books. (1)
  • Review defect escalation forms written by co-workers and clients to identify the types and severity of database application problems. (2)
  • Review Gantt charts to determine project schedules, resources being allocated and upcoming activities. (2)
  • Review and interpret integrity relationship diagrams to determine key database elements such as entities, attributes, relationships and indexes. (3)
  • Interpret lengthy passages of computer language code to determine how an application's functionality such as logical branching or object orientation is achieved. (4)
  • Interpret process flow charts to understand what data is captured and how it travels between various applications and hardware components. (4)


  • Record items discussed with clients using short notes and log entries. For example, they may note that clients understand that toolsets such as Oracle Designer are used to model, create and test their database applications. (1)
  • Write memos and e-mail to clients, co-workers and vendors to provide them with work updates and to request information. (2)
  • Write concise statements in defect escalation reports to describe the severity and frequency of application problems. (2)
  • May write policies and procedures to document database application development processes. Policies may be lengthy and are written using clear and concise language to avoid misinterpretation on the part of readers. (3)
  • Write database implementation plans to document the requirements, approaches and potential problem areas prior to commencing projects. They enter information under headings such as technical specifications, project objectives, planned activities and deliverables. (4)
  • May write reports describing database audit reviews. They include detailed information about the purpose of the audit, research approaches, constraints and findings. (4)
  • May write lengthy proposals that include technical specifications, benefits, methodologies and costing. They must clearly and concisely present highly technical information in a manner that laypeople can understand and apply. (4)


Money Math

  • Pay for supplies using cash or credit cards. (1)
  • Check calculations on supplier invoices and approve payments. They confirm quantities, prices and amounts, check tax calculations and verify totals before paying invoices. (2)
  • May prepare invoices and collect payments for consulting services. They charge for the number of billable hours worked or for milestones reached, and calculate goods and services tax amounts. (2)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Schedule work and determine the amount of time it will take to complete projects. They organize task lists, plan around vacations and holidays and balance workloads to determine the time it will take to complete projects. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Take precise measurements using specialized equipment and techniques. For example, a manufacturing engineer may use micrometers or plastic precision clearance gauges to check the fit of parts or take a series of water meter readings to measure water consumption for various operations within a manufacturing facility. (3)
  • Take measurements from construction drawings to confirm the dimensions and locations of structural elements, equipment and electrical, water, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other systems. They often need to ensure that new pieces of equipment can be accommodated in proposed plant redesigns. (3)
  • May use trigonometry and geometry to determine height or depth. For example, an industrial and manufacturing engineer uses trigonometry to calculate the slope, angle and distance required for material handling conveyor systems. (5)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare application load times to norms to determine if computers and operating systems are running efficiently. (1)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate the number of users who will access applications using an analysis of items such as number of points of access and size of user populations. (2)
  • Estimate the amount of time it will take to transfer data from legacy systems to new applications. They consider the type and amount of data and the attributes of both the old and new systems. (2)
  • May estimate the resources needed to install new database platforms such as Linux. They consider the costs associated with similar projects, expected installation times, the availability of skilled labour and other variables. (3)

Oral communication

  • Discuss task lists, schedules and work loads with co-workers and colleagues. (2)
  • Meet clients to discuss topics such as project activities, technical specifications, current business practices, growth plans, regulatory and reporting requirements and security risks. They use clear and succinct language to reduce the chance of misunderstandings. (3)
  • May negotiate project fee schedules, timelines and deliverables. They outline their preferred terms and conditions and negotiate concessions as required. (3)
  • May meet clients to secure new contracts. They discuss their skill sets, project experiences and the benefits that clients will realize. (3)
  • May make presentations to clients. For example, they may present the results of data security audits by providing background information, research findings and the resulting recommendations using language appropriate to the audience's technical backgrounds. (4)


Problem Solving

  • Encounter clients who lack the technical background needed to understand commonly-used acronyms and information technology jargon. They determine the extent of clients' technical understanding and use more appropriate language. (2)
  • Determine that projects will not finish on time due to delays caused by work stoppages, late arriving shipments and technical glitches. They work with suppliers, clients and co-workers to resolve the delays and then establish new timelines. (3)
  • Have clients who change specifications after projects have started. They determine the extent of the changes and renegotiate timelines and budgets. (3)
  • Discover that database applications are not capable of meeting all the technical specifications requested by clients. They consult with clients to discuss the limitations and determine options such as which of the lower priority functions could be abandoned. (3)

Decision Making

  • Decide what labels to assign to fields and tables. (1)
  • Select programming languages to execute commands. For example, they may choose JavaScript to create password protection scripts which require users to enter passwords before accessing information. (2)
  • Choose tests to assess the performance of new software applications and platforms such as Oracle 9i, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise. For example, they may use manual or automated tests to ensure that relational databases are performing as expected. (2)
  • Decide which applications and database platforms will best meet client needs. They factor in the number of users expected, budgets, scalability requirements and the need for web-based technologies such as Java, HTTP, Web Services and XML. (2)
  • May decide to bid on projects. They consider the deliverables, timelines, fee schedules and levels of expertise required. (2)
  • Decide how to migrate data from legacy systems to database applications such as DB2 and Sybase by considering data structures, storage requirements and the functionality of new software programs. (3)
  • Decide the priority levels of concurrent projects. They consider how delays will affect each project and how they can use available resources to satisfy at least some of their clients. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Evaluate the acceptability of software performance. They compare the results of manual and automated tests to technical specifications published by suppliers. They verify specifications such as throughput rates, load times, functionality and connectivity. (2)
  • Evaluate the ability of legacy databases to meet increased data processing and information sharing demands. They consider system architectures, data processing speeds, defect escalation reports and reporting capabilities. (3)
  • May evaluate the adequacy of existing database security measures. They review the security risks presented by current business practices and the protection offered by existing security measures such as the use of passwords, firewalls and virus filters. (3)
  • Assess the suitability of database platforms and software applications such as enterprise reporting tools and online transaction processing systems. They consider client needs and resources, and the costs, technical supports and specifications provided by suppliers. (4)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Information systems analysts and consultants organize their daily activities to meet project deadlines. They generally work on multi-disciplinary teams and may be involved on one or more projects simultaneously. Juggling projects is a necessary part of the work and they frequently have to decide which projects to work on next. They must be prepared to shift priorities if important project delivery deadlines are threatened. (3)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember registration dates, passwords and logon codes.
  • Remember the functionality of software programs.
  • Recall which applications and database platforms work best in on-line environments.
  • Recall documentation processes used with previous projects.

Finding Information

  • Locate technical specifications, timelines and budgets by referring to proposals, reports and business plans. (1)
  • Seek information about system and software malfunctions from co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. (2)
  • Consult technical manuals to locate specific information such as program codes and executable commands. (3)

Digital technology

  • Use communications software. For example they use e-mail programs like Outlook and Communicator to send and receive e-mail, and attachments such as spreadsheets, reports and diagrams. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use the Internet to access vendor and client websites, contact members of access listservs, forums and remotely access databases. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they use advanced features such as pagination, footnotes and track changes to create and edit reports and proposals. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they use advanced features in diagramming programs such as Visio to create schematics that outline how data flows between applications. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use spreadsheets such as Excel and Quatro Pro to test data integrity and to create budgets that incorporate formulas and macros. (3)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, they use advanced features in project management applications such as Project to organize task lists, schedule activities, balance workloads and create Gantt charts. (3)
  • Use databases. They conceptualize, design and create data management systems such as database-centric Internet applications, enterprise reporting tools, ad-hoc query and analysis tools, online transaction processing systems and programs which manage the full life-cycle of data and metadata. (5)
  • Do programming and systems software and design. For example, they use a variety of computer languages such as JavaScript, VB Script, CodeBase and Visual Basic. For example, they write software routines to optimize performance between clients and servers or they may reduce network traffic and lock contention by executing queries directly on servers. (5)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Information systems analysts and consultants generally work independently but they may also work on teams with project leaders, software developers and subject matter experts. These teams are generally formed for specific projects and disband once the work is completed. Information systems analysts and consultants may work on a number of teams simultaneously. Self-employed information systems analysts and consultants may work alone. (3)

Continuous Learning

Information systems analysts and consultants must engage in continuous learning because information technologies are changing very rapidly. They are responsible for setting their own learning goals and objectives. Employers encourage continuous learning, but generally do not make it mandatory. They keep abreast of changes by reading industry magazines, listservs, brochures, journals, attending conferences and workshops, and taking courses such as graphics and database programming. Software developers, technical institutes, and universities offer training with costs covered by vendors or employers. They also learn from co-workers and other members of project teams. (3)