System ConceptsIntroduction

John K. E. Edumadze
University of Cape Coast
Objectives
After completion of this lecture, you will
 Be able to define a system;
 Know the main features of the System...
What is the Systems Approach
System concept or theory or approach is a method or framework,
which helps us to analyze and...
System Definition (c’nue)
 This definition contains the essential elements of
parts, relationships and objectives of a sy...
Another definition for a System

According to Efrem G. Mallach: A system is a group
of interacting components with a purpo...
System Feedback
• Systems often incorporate feedback.
• Feedback is output from a system component
that becomes, perhaps a...
The company as a system
Customers
Stakeholders
Competitors
Lenders
Suppliers
Labour markets
Local community
Government

pr...
Systems Elements
 A system is made up of three elements: 1) The transformation, 2)
Boundary , and 3) Environment.
 The t...
Systems Elements (c’nued)
 The Environments of Systems
• All elements not in the system. i.e. on the ‘outside’ of the sys...
Features of the Systems Approach
The systems approach, also known as systems thinking or general systems theory
(GST) reco...
Features of the Systems Approach
3.

(c’nued)

General principle in decomposition which assumes that the system
objective ...
Features of the Systems Approach (c’nued)
5.

The sub-systems should work towards the goal of their higher
systems and not...
Classifications of Systems
There are several ways of classify systems that emphasis their differences. Two
such classifica...
Classifications of Systems

(c’nued)

Closed and Open Systems
 Closed Systems:
A closed system is one that is isolated fr...
Systems and Adaptability
To be successful and to remain in existence, organisations must be
flexible and adapt to change. ...
Shared and Overlapping
Sub-Systems
Sub-systems can belong to more than one system and there is a need
to recognize this ov...
People in Organisations
Organisational problems contain hard and soft issues to varying
degrees.
The importance of the sys...
Summary
 The systems view is that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
 Parts or sub-systems canno...
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Bus 304 lecture 4-intro system concepts

  1. 1. System ConceptsIntroduction John K. E. Edumadze University of Cape Coast
  2. 2. Objectives After completion of this lecture, you will  Be able to define a system;  Know the main features of the Systems Approach;  Understand the key systems terminology;  Be able to distinguish between open and closed systems;  Understand the importance of the environment;  Know what is a socio-technical system.
  3. 3. What is the Systems Approach System concept or theory or approach is a method or framework, which helps us to analyze and explore the operation and interactions, which exist in the systems around us. Systems approach sees organization as a complex entities with multiple relationships and helps to avoid taking narrow view of problem solving with organisations. According Open University, a system is Assembly of Parts Where:  The parts or components are connected together in an organized way.  The parts’ components are affected by being in the system (and are changed by leaving it).  The assembly does something.  The assembly has been identified by a person as being of special interest.
  4. 4. System Definition (c’nue)  This definition contains the essential elements of parts, relationships and objectives of a system.  Systems process inputs to produce outputs of goods and/or services in order to fulfill the objectives of the organization.  Examples of systems are a University, hospital, an accounting system, a manufacturing company, information system, Transportation system, the human body, an organization etc.
  5. 5. Another definition for a System According to Efrem G. Mallach: A system is a group of interacting components with a purpose. The key words in this definition are 1. 2. 3. 4. Group. A system must consist of more than one item. A piece of paper, unless one cares about its molecular structure, is not a system. Interacting. The components must operate in some relationship to each other. A collection of components that are not connected to each other, such as a piece of paper in one room and a pencil in another, is not a system. These same components would comprise a writing system, however, if they were brought together. Components. The components may be elementary items, incapable of (for our purposes) further subdivision. Alternatively, they may be systems in their own right: smaller systems, to be sure, but systems nonetheless. Small systems that are components of a larger system are called subsystems of the larger system. Purpose. systems do have purpose. Knowing the purpose of a system helps us understand it or redesign it to carry out this purpose better.
  6. 6. System Feedback • Systems often incorporate feedback. • Feedback is output from a system component that becomes, perhaps after additional processing, input to a system component. • It is a common feature of many aspect of MIS such as stock control, budgetary control, production control and so on. • Systems that use feedback to adjust their outputs, based on how well the result of those outputs matches the desired result, are called closed loop systems. Those that do not use feedback to adjust their outputs are called open loop systems.
  7. 7. The company as a system Customers Stakeholders Competitors Lenders Suppliers Labour markets Local community Government production sales purchasing finance boundary An open or closed system? Continually changing and evolving, external influences, all social systems Completely self contained – test tube
  8. 8. Systems Elements  A system is made up of three elements: 1) The transformation, 2) Boundary , and 3) Environment.  The transformation process • • All systems are composed of the same basic elements; inputs, processes and outputs The usual procedure when analyzing systems are: a. b. • Choose those outputs which we are concerned ,which are usually those outputs most relevant to the system objectives Choose those inputs for examination and control which are considered important. In all systems other than physical or mechanical ones, the transformation process is controlled by information.  System Boundaries • • • Features which define the extent of a system. In mechanical, physical and biological systems, are readily identifiable as they tend to arise naturally. With any form of social organization, boundaries are not obvious and often change to meet differing demands. Within organizations, boundaries are determined by management and vary from organization.
  9. 9. Systems Elements (c’nued)  The Environments of Systems • All elements not in the system. i.e. on the ‘outside’ of the system”. • External elements whose changes in attitudes, behavior or properties affect the state of the system. • External elements which are changed by the system’s behavior. • The environment is diverse and is rarely static. • Although some factors in the environment cannot be controlled, for example, the weather, organizations do attempt to influence their environment. For example companies advertise their products to create and maintain demand.
  10. 10. Features of the Systems Approach The systems approach, also known as systems thinking or general systems theory (GST) recognizes that organizations are complex entities with multiple relationships and helps to avoid taking a narrow, mechanistic view of their problems. 1. All systems are composed of inter-related parts or sub-systems and the system can only be explained as a whole. This is known as holism or synergy. Holism states that any whole is more than the sum of its individual parts. It is a cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the merged parts of a Corporation that creates an enhanced combined effect. – Systems are hierarchical in that the parts of sub-systems are made-up of other smaller parts. The system itself could be part of another bigger system known as suprasystem. A complex system is difficult to comprehend when considered as a whole therefore the system is decomposed or fractured into sub system. The sub systems resulting from continuation process of decomposition generally form hierarchical structures
  11. 11. Features of the Systems Approach 3. (c’nued) General principle in decomposition which assumes that the system objective dictates the process is functional cohesive. In design, the identification of functionally cohesive sub systems is the first step. The boundaries then need to be clearly specified, interfaces simplified and appropriated connection established among the sub systems. Progressing down the hierarchy increases the detail but reduces the area whilst moving upwards provides a successively broader view. Progressing down the hierarchy increases the detail but reduces the area whilst moving upwards provides a successively broader view 4. Organizational systems contain both hard and soft properties. Hard properties are those that can be assessed in some objective way eg size of a product or the number of an item to produce per day. The soft aspects of a system are a matter of individual values or taste. They cannot be assessed by any objective standard or measuring process. Examples are the appearance of a product, the suitability of a person for a job
  12. 12. Features of the Systems Approach (c’nued) 5. The sub-systems should work towards the goal of their higher systems and not pursue their own objectives independently. Where sub-systems do pursue their own objectives to the detriment of higher objectives, then a condition of sub-optimality is said to exist and in general. Information Systems designers seek to avoid sub-optimality wherever possible. For example, a production manager may seek to minimize production costs by producing regular quantities each period. This may result in orders being lost at certain times and excessive stocks at others. If the savings in production costs are less than the lost sales contribution or the extra stock-holding costs then there is suboptimality as far as the business as a whole is concerned.
  13. 13. Classifications of Systems There are several ways of classify systems that emphasis their differences. Two such classifications of systems are based on –Their degree of interaction with the environments (Open or Close systems) –Their predictive behaviour (Deterministic or Probabilistic systems) Deterministic and Probabilistic Systems  Deterministic Systems: These are predictable systems where output can be predicted from input. The interactions between the parts are known with certainty. Examples: computer programs (software), machine producing a component and so on.  Probabilistic or Stochastic Systems: These are where some conditions of the system can be predicted from the previous state but only in terms of probable behaviour. There is always a certain degree of error attached to the prediction of what the system will do. For example in an inventory control system the average demand or the average stock may be predicted, but the exact value of these factors cannot be predicted.
  14. 14. Classifications of Systems (c’nued) Closed and Open Systems  Closed Systems: A closed system is one that is isolated from its environment. The idea can only strictly be applied to mechanical and physical systems as all social systems have some interaction with their environment. Manufacturing systems as an example are designed to be as closed as possible so that the manufacturing process can operate without disturbances from suppliers, customers, etc. A computer program is a relatively closed system because it accepts only previously defined inputs, processes them and provides previously defined outputs.  Open Systems: An open system is a system which interacts with its environment. It receives inputs and influences from the environment and, in turn, passes back outputs and influences to the environment. All social organizations are open systems. The way that organizations adapt to changes in the environment is key element in an organizations success and indeed its very survival. Open systems turn to have form and structure to allow them to adapt to changes in their environment in such a way as to continue their existence. They are self-organizing in the sense that they change their organization systems in response to changing conditions or adapt and react to inputs or stimuli. Living systems (cells, plants, humans) are open systems as in homeostasis.
  15. 15. Systems and Adaptability To be successful and to remain in existence, organisations must be flexible and adapt to change. This means change not only in the organisation’s relationship with the external environment but also in their internal methods and structures. Successful organisations are characterised by their internal openness and their readiness to accept that yesterday’s methods and products are very unlikely to be suitable for tomorrow. Recognising the need for change, initiating change and managing change successfully are the hallmarks of good quality management. Organisations do not automatically adjust to change. Adaptation only occurs as a result of management decisions and action. Successful change is change that is planned and considered . It will be recalled that a key element of the systems approach is that changes in parts of a system affect the system as a whole. Thus, to make successful changes one must be aware of the interactions which exist in the organization.
  16. 16. Shared and Overlapping Sub-Systems Sub-systems can belong to more than one system and there is a need to recognize this overlap and design operations and processes accordingly. The recognition of overlap is particularly important when changes are made in one of the systems which share the same sub-system. Overlap is often an efficient and economical arrangement. For example, a central purchasing sub-system used by various companies in a group may be able to obtain greater discounts and may aid the standardization of parts and materials. A centralized computer facility may be shared by all departments within an organization with a reduction in overall costs. However such overlaps are likely to increase communication difficulties and may have longer response times. Because of the need to co-ordinate activities and to obtain numerous approvals for change, such structures may be less flexible in rapidly changing conditions.
  17. 17. People in Organisations Organisational problems contain hard and soft issues to varying degrees. The importance of the system’s viewpoint is the avoidance thinking about solving problems in a machine-like or mechanistic way. There may be a yearning for systems to behave in a controllable and predictable fashion but, where people are involved, they will not. Often managers see situations in a narrow fashion and solve the more obvious “hard’ problems, for example about technology changes, when the real problem is about the human interactions involved.
  18. 18. Summary  The systems view is that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.  Parts or sub-systems cannot be altered without other parts.  All systems comprise: inputs, processes and outputs.  The environment of a system includes those elements with which it has some connection or relationship/  Closed systems have rigid boundaries and do not have any changes with their environment.  Open systems have a dynamic relationship within their environment which is vital to ensure adaptability.  Sub-systems can belong to more than one system. Reference Lucey, T.(2005). Management Information Systems. London: Thomson.
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