The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Systems design DESN

The design of systems to meet specified requirements, compatible with agreed systems architectures, adhering to corporate standards and within constraints of performance and feasibility. The identification of concepts and their translation into a design which forms the basis for systems construction and verification. The design or selection of components. The development of a complete set of detailed models, properties, and/or characteristics described in a form suitable for implementation. The adoption and adaptation of systems design lifecycle models based on the context of the work and selecting appropriately from predictive (plan-driven) approaches or adaptive (iterative/agile) approaches.

Moving to SFIA 8

There is an updated version of this skill for SFIA 8.

  • A new level 3 has been added based on use of this skill in the workplace
  • Supports employability by introducing an entry level career step
  • The skill descriptions have been edited for readability and guidance notes have been added
  • Details available here - SFIA 8 Systems design
  • SFIA 7 skill descriptions will remain available for you to use
  • Previous SFIA assessments are not impacted by this change.


Defined at these levels: 4 5 6

Systems design: Levels 1-3

This skill is not typically observed or practiced at these levels of responsibility and accountability.

Systems design: Level 4

Designs components using appropriate modelling techniques following agreed architectures, design standards, patterns and methodology. Identifies and evaluates alternative design options and trade-offs. Creates multiple design views to address the concerns of the different stakeholders of the architecture and to handle both functional and non-functional requirements. Models, simulates or prototypes the behaviour of proposed systems components to enable approval by stakeholders. Produces detailed design specification to form the basis for construction of systems. Reviews, verifies and improves own designs against specifications.

Systems design: Level 5

Adopts and adapts appropriate systems design methods, tools and techniques selecting appropriately from predictive (plan-driven) approaches or adaptive (iterative/agile) approaches, and ensures they are applied effectively. Designs large or complex systems. Undertakes impact analysis on major design options and trade-off. Makes recommendations and assesses and manages associated risks. Reviews others' systems designs to ensure selection of appropriate technology, efficient use of resources, and integration of multiple systems and technology. Ensures that the system design balances functional and non-functional requirements. Contributes to development of systems design policies and standards and selection of architecture components.

Systems design: Level 6

Develops organisational policies, standards, guidelines, and methods for systems design. Champions the importance and value of systems design principles and the selection of appropriate systems design lifecycle models; whether predictive (plan-driven) approaches or more adaptive (iterative/agile) approaches. Drives adoption of and adherence to relevant policies, standards, strategies and architectures. Leads systems design activities for strategic, large and complex systems development programmes. Develops effective implementation and procurement strategies, consistent with specified requirements, architectures and constraints of performance and feasibility. Develops systems designs requiring introduction of new technologies or new uses for existing technologies.

Systems design: Level 7

This skill is not typically observed or practiced at this level of responsibility and accountability.