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The Benefits of Using Structured Analysis

Engineers and architects must understand as much about their structures as possible. This helps them to design better models. Applying structured analysis techniques allows them to do this.


Finding its roots in software development, structured analysis has evolved. Today, architects and engineers can use structured analysis in several ways. It's important in everything from model development through to building information modelling.

Structured analysis involves the use of graphs and diagrams to represent a system. These visual documents portray the system’s specifications in a way that others understand. In software development, you’d use it to portray the system you intend to code. However, you can apply the basic steps to your models.

Think of it in terms of the 3D models you create for clients. You need to find a logical path from the data you have to the model you want to create. Structured analysis techniques, much like building information modelling, allow you to do that. They help you to tackle complex data sets, producing an accessible structure at the end.

Structured analysis primarily focuses on the data needed to ensure a software or model performs its functions. As a result, it requires a logical approach. Engineers and architects train such skills extensively. This allows them to convert project requirements into a model or program that meets the client’s needs.

These are several benefits of using structured analysis for engineers and architects. However, you must adapt the software-oriented approach for your field. Let’s look at the steps involved in using the technique.


7 Steps To Structured Analysis

A typically structured analysis involves seven steps. Here, we’ve adapted the steps for use when designing a structure. If you follow these steps, you’ll reap the benefits of structured analysis.

Step #1 – Study the Existing Solution

In the case of architects and engineers, this step often involves studying an existing building. You may have to design a replacement for an existing structure. Alternatively, you may have a pre-existing model a client has refused.

In either case, the first step involves looking at what currently exists. Look for the problem points, and confer with your client. Ask them why the current solution doesn’t work for them.

Step #2 – Model the Current Solution

You may want to create a model for the existing building as part of your structured analysis. This is where you use the data collected in step 1. The model provides a visual representation of the faults you’ve spotted.

Sometimes, you can use this model to demonstrate why a client may need a new solution. They may be unaware of the problems you highlight.

As a side note, you can skip the first two steps if there’s no previous solution to work from.

Step #3 – Model a New System

This is where your design skills come into play. You build a new model that confronts the issues found in the old one.

Many use building information modelling for this purpose. You can input the current data sets to create the existing model, and share it using the cloud. Each stakeholder then applies their expertise to the model. In doing so, they collectively create a new, improved model.

This new model forms the basis of what you’ll present to your clients.

Step #4 – Model the Physical Environment

Lighting, the land, and the flow of people are all aspects of the physical environment. Architects and engineers must account for these external factors during their structured analysis.

Again, building information modelling may help. You can use the data you collect to determine how the physical environment affects your model. Look at things like lighting, as well as the surrounding structures.

Step #5 – Evaluate the Alternatives

Clients may want to see that the solution you develop is the best one possible. As a result, you must consider the alternatives.

Evaluate each individually, picking out its pros and cons. Use this information to explain why your model is the superior choice. The use of multiple models in building information modelling also helps. It allows you to identify and evaluate alternative solutions. Use the collected data in different ways to see how it affects the model you’ve developed.

Step #6 – Choose the Best Method

Step 5 may have shown you that a different approach works better than the method you came up with. Don’t ignore this.

If an alternative method offers a better solution, make the switch. Remember that you want to deliver the best possible solution to your client. This may involve scrapping previous work. However, it’s worth it to provide the best solution to the problem.

Step #7 – Create the Graphical Specs

You’ll probably have done this throughout the process. After all, the model you create is a graphic in its own right. You may also have various 2D and 3D drawings.

As a result, this final step often involves touching things up for final presentation standard. For example, you may have to consider how you’ll render the completed model. Alternatively, you may have to consider which digital design software package works best for the model. Some create their initial models in basic design software, before moving onto more complex software later on.


The Benefits of Using Structured Analysis

So, you’ve seen the steps, but you may still wonder about the benefits of using structured analysis. The system helps you in several aspects of your projects.

Benefit #1 – Greater Efficiency


Much like with building information modelling, structured analysis improves project efficiency. Following the steps means there’s little room to miss the important things. You cover every base, from the issues with an existing model through to the alternatives to the model you come up with.

You have a plan in place and establish feasibility at an early stage. Furthermore, you create a structure that all stakeholders can work within. Everybody understands their role within your projects and works as per the system’s design.

The use of data and logic also ensure projects don’t run over time and budget. You use your data to its maximum capacity and create logical models.

This has an impact at all levels of the project. You get your models completed quicker, but you also ensure contractors don’t run into issues during the building phase. The logical progression required for structured analysis leaves no stones unturned. They won’t come back to you with issues you failed to account for.

Instead, you account for every obstacle the project may face. As a result, there are fewer delays required to tackle issues that other stakeholders bring up later on. Most building information modelling software packages also take potential obstacles into account.

Benefit #2 – It Takes Client Needs into Account

In most cases, your clients have come to you with a problem. They may need you to redesign an existing model. Or, they have certain specifications your model must meet.

One of the benefits of using structured analysis is that the technique takes the client’s needs into account from the beginning. The process of analysing and modelling the current system helps. It allows you to ask questions of the client, and gives them time to tell you about specific issues.

This continues throughout the process. Modelling the physical environment offers a real-world interpretation of your model. You also consider the alternatives, which gives your client something else to think about.

At every stage of the structural analysis process, you take the needs of your clients into account. This results in quicker project turnarounds and more satisfied clients.

Benefit #3 – Better Risk Analysis

One of the benefits of using structured analysis is that it challenges you to look at all aspects of a project. As a result, you analyse risks constantly. The data points out areas of contention, so you can adapt the model to them.

This benefit also comes back to the client-focus. You have a better understanding of what the client wants. As a result, you take on less risk when designing the model. In some cases, you may even get feedback from the clients’ customers. For example, you could expect more feedback when replacing an older model. The clients’ customers may have raised complaints, which you can use to shape your own efforts.

Step 5 also forces you to take stock of the solution that you come up with. Many architects and engineers assume their ideas offer the best solution. This creates risk, as it means they don’t look at potential alternatives.

The benefits of using structured analysis include the analysis of alternatives. You don’t run the risk of somebody coming up with a better idea. After all, you’ve considered multiple ideas as part of the process.

The structured approach means you examine your models in more detail. Combine it with building information modelling to get as many stakeholders involved as possible. Together, you’ll discover the risks, and come up with ways to overcome them.

Benefit #4 – It Makes Projects More Manageable

You confront the issue of feasibility during the early stages of the process. You collect data, consider the problem, and come up with a solution. As a result, the project grows from a solid foundation. You understand how you’ll manage every stage of the project, and who you must involve.

Using structured analysis when developing models helps you to determine the workload your team takes on. You can assign tasks confidently, and ensure you have the correct people in place.

It comes down to the planning. The data you have available shows you exactly what you need to do. Your models build on this information. As the process continues, you identify problem areas and tasks. For example, you’ll know when to invite contributions from electricians. Plus, you can tackle potential structural issues early in the process.

Structured analysis gives you control of the project from start to finish.

Benefit #5 – Create Updateable Models

BIM Collision .jpg

Structured analysis doesn’t just take the client’s present needs into account. It also considers future issues. It allows for the creation of models you can modify and update as time goes on.

This is particularly useful during the pre-construction stage. Your models may face last minute changes. An uncaught design flaw could cause issues, or the client may change their requirements.

Each demands modification of the existing model. Sometimes, you may need to add to your model based on the client’s new requirements. Combine the structured analysis approach with the right building information modelling software. This helps in several ways.

For example, you can code new data sets into the model to reflect the changes. The building information modelling structure also allows you to share these changes with your team. Everybody can contribute to the ongoing maintenance and updating of the model during development. As a result, new client demands don’t set the project back too far. Your model can adapt to them, in preparation for the construction phase.



As you can see, the processes behind structured analysis don’t just apply to software development. You can adapt them to the models you build. In doing so, you will reap the benefits of using structured analysis.

These benefits include greater efficiency, which leads to faster project turnarounds. You’ll spend less time and money on projects, allowing you to take more work on. Clients feel more involved in the process, and feel happier with the results. You can also create plans for the work to come, and incorporate all the relevant project data.

Also, structured analysis helps you understand the risks associated with your project. Applying the technique also results in the creation of more flexible, updateable models.

Think of your model as the development stage for a piece of software. Use it to iron out the bugs. You can then move onto construction.

Before you can enjoy the benefits of using structured analysis, you need the right tools at your disposal. That’s where ArchiStar Academy can help. ArchiStar Academy offers a range of digital design software. These include Revit, which incorporates many aspects of building information modelling.

Furthermore, ArchiStar Academy offers several courses across the spectrum of digital design software. You’ll develop your skills, allowing you to create more accurate and functional models.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with ArchiStar Academy today if you have any questions.

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Posted on 20 Jan 2020

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