Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs)
When system analysts attempt to understand the information requirements of users, they must be able to conceptualize how data moves through the organization, the processes or transformations that the data undergoes, and what the outputs are. Through a structured analysis technique called data flow diagrams (DFDs), the systems analyst can put together a graphical representation of data processes throughout the organization. The data flow approach emphasizes the logic underlying the system. By using combinations of only four symbols, the systems analyst can create a pictorial depiction of processes that will eventually provide solid system documentation.
The data flow approach has four chief advantages over narrative explanations of the way data moves through the system (Kendall, 2002).
ÃÂ·Freedom from committing to the technical implementation of the system too early.
ÃÂ·Further understanding of the interrelatedness of systems and subsystems.
ÃÂ·Communicating current system knowledge to user through data flow diagrams.
ÃÂ·Analysis of a proposed system to determine if the necessary data and processes have been defined.
2. Data Flow Diagram (DFD) Notions
ÃÂ·Describe something actually happening, including any decisions that are made.
ÃÂ·The process should be named clearly by using a verb-adjective-noun format for detailed processes.
ÃÂ·Each process consists of a rectangle: the small left hand box contains the process number; to the right is entered the process location (which person or department causes the happening); the main box contains the process description (what is happening).
ÃÂ·Processes can be decomposed into sub-processes, sub-sub-processes etc. - allowing more and more detail to be exposed. An asterisk indicates that the 'bottom level' of expansion has been reached.
ÃÂ·The number of processes on a DFD should not usually exceed nine processes.
ÃÂ·A data flow is shown by a line with an arrowhead, indicating the direction of flow.