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Soft Systems Methodology SSM

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Soft System Methodology is a way of dealing with any complex, organizational situations where there is a high social, political and human activity component. Developed primarily by Peter Checkland (UK). Published in 1981.

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SSM Seven Stages

situation 1 considered problematic

action to improve the problem situation

6 changes: systemically desirable, culturally feasible

problem situation expressed

comparison of models and real world 5

real world systems thinking about real world conceptual models of systems described in root definitions 4

3 root definition of relevant systems

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1. Situation Considered Problematic

Problem owners (managers and/or employees) recognize the problem situation. Problem owners initiate a review of tasks and the way they are performed. Problem solver (analyst) is called in.

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2. Problem Situation Expressed

Analyst collects and sorts information. Analyst express the problem situation through RICH PICTURES. RICH PICTURES:
Capture as much information as possible; Show how we can look at and think about the system; Represent structure, processes, issues, information flows, and communication channels of the organization relevant to the problematic situation; Give an impression of the organizational climate.

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Rich Picture Example

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3. Root Definitions of Relevant Systems

Concise description of a human activity system. Two step process:
1. Select an issue or task from a rich picture; 2. Define the system to carry out the task or address the issue.

Each root definition involves a certain view of the worlds in order to see the problematic situation from different perspective.

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4. Conceptual Models
Conceptual model is a human activity model that represents the minimum set of activities necessary to conform the root definition. System Thinking is applied in the development of this model. Monitoring:
Measure of performance:
Efficacy - does it work Efficiency - How much of work completed given consumed resources Effectiveness - Are goals being met.

Monitor the activities. Take control action.

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5. Conceptual Models v. Reality

4 ways of doing comparison:
1. 2. 3. 4. Using conceptual models as a base for ordered questions; Comparing history with model prediction; General overall comparison; Model overlay.
activity is it done in the real situation? how is it done? comments, recommendations

1 2 3

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6. Feasible and Desirable Changes

From the comparison of the conceptual models with reality, logically desirable and socially/politically feasible changes are identify and debate. Two types of changes:
Changes in structure; Changes in procedure;

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7. Actions For Improvement Develop an action plan to implement changes and put them into action!

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STS theory
STS is based on the premises that organisations or a work unit is a combination of social and technical parts and that it is open to its environment At the heart of STS design is the joint optimisation of the technical and social subsystems which constitute the work system.

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Components of STS
Social subsystem - aims to design a work structure that is responsive to the psychological needs of the employees and is experienced through the organisations culture, norms, roles and communication patterns Technical subsystem comprises the structures, tools and knowledge necessary to perform the work which transforms raw materials into products or services

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Systems Development Life Cycle

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Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

Iterative Process Control cost and time

Budgets Project timelines and deadlines

Works best with well understood systems

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SDLC Phases
Systems Investigation

Identify problems or opportunities

Systems Analysis

How can we solve the problem

Systems Design

Select and plan the best solution

Systems Implementation

Place solution into effect

Systems Maintenance and Review

Evaluate the results of the solution

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Systems Investigation
Feasibility Analysis

Technical Economic Operational Schedule

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Systems Analysis
Data Collection

Strengths/Weaknesses of existing system Turning data into information Identifying needs

Data Analysis

Requirements Analysis

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Systems Design
Logical Design

Functional requirements of the system Specifies system components

Physical Design

Design Alternatives Evaluating and Selecting a Design

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Systems Implementation
Hardware/Software User Preparation Hiring and Training Personnel Site Preparation Data Preparation Installation Testing Startup User Acceptance

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Systems Maintenance

New Release New Version

5 times the cost of development 50 - 70% of programmers time Documentation is important!

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System Stakeholders
Customers Vendors and Suppliers Managers Systems Analysts Technical Specialists

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Tools for Development

CASE tools Rapid Application Development Object Oriented development Prototyping

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Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

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Systems Development
What is a system? A collection of related components that interact to perform a task in order to accomplish a goal
Systems development (systems analysis and design) is the process of creating systems, developing them, and maintaining or enhancing them.

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Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

Three major activities

Analysis: understanding business needs Design: conceptualizing computer-system solution Implementation: construction, testing, and installation

Two additional phases

Project planning Support

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F r o n t e n d

1. Planning a. Project identification and selection b. Project initiation and planning 2. Analysis a. Determine system requirements (WHAT users need) b. Modeling possible solutions (HOW to satisfy user needs)

B a c k e n d

3. Design a. logical design b. physical design 4. Implementation 5. Maintenance / support

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Project Phases
Planning (Why build the system? How should the team go about building it?) Analysis (Who uses system, what will it do, where and when will the system be used?) Design (How will the system work?) Implementation (System delivery)

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Project Identification and Selection

Systems Development Life Cycle Waterfall Model

Project Initiation and Planning


Logical Design

Physical Design



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Project Initiation and Planning

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Project Initiation and Planning

Long-term information systems strategic plan (top-down) Department managers or process managers (bottom-up) Response to outside forces Legislative changes Market forces Competition

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Confirming Project Feasibility

Economic Organizational and cultural Technological Schedule Resource

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Intangibles in Economic Feasibility Costs and benefits cannot always be measured Examples Increased levels of service Survival Lost customers or sales

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Organizational and Cultural Feasibility Each company has own culture New system must fit into culture Evaluate related issues for potential risks

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Technological Feasibility
Does expertise exist in-house for development?

Does a third party need to be involved?

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Schedule Feasibility
Can project be completed on time?

Risk of schedule slipping

Assumptions and estimates

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Resource Feasibility

Team member availability Team skill levels Equipment Support staff

Physical facilities

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Requirements Analysis

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A. Determine system requirements B. Structure requirements
1. Process modeling 2. Logic modeling 3. Data modeling

C. Select best alternative

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Requirements Analysis Goals

Fully describe the current system
Study and analyze the current system (gather and study facts)

Identify resource constraints Define and prioritize requirements Inspire user confidence/ownership

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Study & Analyze Current System

-- Activities -Learn about current system (gather facts) Model current system Analyze problems/opportunities (study facts) Establish new system objectives

1. 2. 3. 4.

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Study & Analyze Current System

-- Output -1. 2. 3. 4. Complete statement of user environment Models of current system List of major problems/causes/effects System objectives

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