L2 Socio Tech Systems


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Socio-technical systems and their relationship to LSCITS. I distinguish between them - we build LSCITS for use in a STS

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  • Here – talk about the notion of unintended consequences. Give an example of such a thing.
  • L2 Socio Tech Systems

    1. 1. LSCITS and Socio-technical Systems<br />Prof Ian Sommerville<br />
    2. 2. Objectives<br />To introduce the notion of a socio-technical system and to discuss the relationships between LSCITSs and STSs.<br />To explain why socio-technical considerations should influence the design of an LSCITS<br />To introduce the notion of LSCITS engineering as a systems engineering process.<br />
    3. 3. Socio-technical systems<br />Organisational systems with automated and manual processes and component that evolve to meet organisational goals or requirements<br />
    4. 4. Socio-technical systems<br />Socio-technical systems include IT systems and the social and organisational environment in which these systems are used<br />Operators – the people who use the system<br />Procedures and Processes – ways of working that use the IT system<br />Policies – rules and regulations that govern work and the way that it is done<br />Standards – definitions of how work should be done across the organisation<br />Culture – the ways in which work is done in a local, professional and national setting<br />
    5. 5. Software-intensive system<br />Social and political environment<br />Laws, regulations, custom & practice<br />System users<br />Business<br />processes<br />Organisational policies and culture<br />Socio-technical systems<br />Organisational strategies and goals<br />
    6. 6. Socio-technical system characteristics<br />They exhibit emergent properties<br />Some of the properties of the system emerge after it has gone into use and cannot be predicted in advance<br />This is true of all systems but is a particular characteristic of STS because of the complexity of the interactions between parts of the system<br />They are non-deterministic<br />They do not always produce the same output when presented with the same input (or input sequence) because the systems’s behaviour is partially dependent on human operators, organizational priorities, etc.<br />They are influenced by the organisations culture, rules and objectives<br />STS are inextricably bound up with the organisation using these sysyems, how it thinks of itself and how it works<br />
    7. 7. Emergent properties<br />Properties of the system as a whole rather than properties that can be derived from the properties of components of a system<br />Emergent properties are a consequence of the relationships between system components and between technical systems and the socio-technical system in which they are used<br />They can therefore only be assessed and measured once the components have been integrated into a system<br />Emergent properties often have unexpected consequences<br />Higher rather than lower costs<br />More rather than less manual intervention<br />
    8. 8. Types of emergent property<br />Functional properties <br />These are the designer’s intention and appear when all the parts of a system have been integrated. <br />A burglar alarm system has the property of detecting intruders in a building.<br />Non-functional emergent properties<br />These relate to the behaviour of the system in its operational environment.<br />Examples are reliability, performance, safety, and security. <br />
    9. 9. Organisational emergent properties<br />These relate to the relationships between technical systems and the socio-technical system in which they are embedded or to the relationships between a socio-technical system and other socio-technical systems in an organisation<br />An accounting system that provides better information on accounts to budget holders may lead to increases in expenditure because they now have information about under-spending on a budget<br />A (socio-technical) system that is intended to provide the public with information about death rates in hospitals leads to increases in the number of patients who are discharged early and die at home<br />
    10. 10. Non-determinism<br />Non-determinism (in a systems context) means that the response of a system to a stimulus will not always be consistent<br />STS are non-deterministic because:<br />People are not inter-changeable. One system user will behave in a different way from another. They react differently because of personal circumstances, workload, etc.<br />People react to changes in the environment in which the system is used. The organisational and operational environments constantly change and affect the use of the system and its responses.<br />
    11. 11. Coping with the unexpected<br />Technical systems are rigid and are usually unable to cope with circumstances that have not been envisaged by their designers<br />The non-determinism in STS is (usually) a positive characteristic as it allows the system to cope with unexpected change<br />It allows graceful degradation of service in times of increased workload<br />People can prioritise tasks according to their perceived importance<br />The processes in the system can be dynamically adapted to cope with organisational or external changes<br />
    12. 12. LSCITS and Socio-technical systems<br />The relationships between LSCITS and STS<br />
    13. 13. STS and LSCITS<br />I find it helpful to distinguish between an LSCITS and a STS, with the important distinction being that LSCITS are designed and socio-technical systems evolve.<br />However, not all STS include LSCITS – STS do not have to be large-scale systems. However, all LSCITS are tightly embedded in STS.<br />Socio-technical issues have a profound effect on the dependability, efficiency and effectiveness of the embedded LSCITSs<br />There is an increasing conviction that focusing on socio-technical issues in complex systems and understanding how to use these constructively in system design (LSCITS engineering) will provide a better return in terms of system improvement than investments in new technology<br />
    14. 14. Organisations/people/systems<br />LSCITS are organisational systems intended to help deliver some organisational or business goal.<br />If you do not understand the organisational environment where a system is used, the LSCITS is less likely to meet the real needs of the business and its users.<br />
    15. 15. Value from socio-technical analysis<br />Effectiveness<br />Deployed systems are more effective in supporting business processes<br />In many cases, value from new systems is not realised because these are not used at all or part of their functionality is not exploited<br />Dependability<br />Reduced probability of usage errors<br />More effective error recovery<br />User satisfaction<br />Better user acceptance of new systems<br />Faster ‘time to value’<br />Shorter assimiliation period for new systems. Fewer mismatches between system and work<br />
    16. 16. Issues and questions<br />Process changes<br />Does the system require changes to the work processes in the environment? <br />Job changes<br />Does the system de-skill the users in an environment or cause them to change the way they work? <br />Organisational changes<br />Does the system change the political power structure in an organisation? <br />
    17. 17. LSCITS processes<br />Organisational Environment<br />LSCITS<br />
    18. 18. Organisational processes<br />The processes of systems engineering overlap and interact with organisational procurement processes.<br />Operational processes are the processes involved in using the system for its intended purpose. For new systems, these have to be defined as part of the system design.<br />Operational processes should be designed to be flexible and should not force operations to be done in a particular way. It is important that human operators can use their initiative if problems arise.<br />Operational processes not covered in these lectures but will be discussed in forthcoming socio-technical systems module.<br />
    19. 19. Procurement<br />Acquiring a system for an organization to meet some perceived need<br />Some system specification and architectural design is usually necessary before procurement<br />You need a specification to let a contract for system development<br />The specification may allow you to buy a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system. Almost always cheaper than developing a system from scratch<br />LSCITS usually consist of a mix of off the shelf and specially designed systems. The procurement processes for these different types of system are usually different.<br />
    20. 20. The system procurement process<br />
    21. 21. Procurement issues<br />The choice of what system to buy is a socio-technical rather than simply a technical decision<br />Centralisation vs Autonomy<br />Compliance<br />Response to external circumstances<br />Organisational authority structure<br />Requirements may have to be modified to match the capabilities of off-the-shelf components.<br />There is usually a contract negotiation period to agree changes after the contractor to build a system has been selected. During this process, significant changes to the requirements may be negotiated<br />
    22. 22. LSCITS engineering<br />A development process for LSCITS<br />
    23. 23. LSCITS engineering<br />Specifying, designing, implementing, validating, deploying and maintaining large-scale complex IT systems.<br />Concerned with the services provided by the system, constraints on its construction and operation and the ways in which it is used.<br />LSCITS engineering is a systems rather than a software engineering process<br />LSCITS engineering is particularly concerned with the early stages of the systems engineering process – requirements engineering and architectural design<br />Problems and issues in LSCITS engineering discussed in Lecture 6<br />
    24. 24. The system engineering process<br />Usually follows a ‘waterfall’ model because of the need for parallel development of different parts of the system<br />Little scope for iteration between phases because hardware changes are very expensive. Software may have to compensate for hardware problems.<br />Inevitably involves engineers from different disciplines who must work together<br />Much scope for misunderstanding here. Different disciplines use a different vocabulary and much negotiation is required. Engineers may have personal agendas to fulfil.<br />
    25. 25. The systems engineering process<br />
    26. 26. System requirements definition<br />Focuses on ‘requirements in the large’ rather than detailed ‘requirements in the small’<br />Three types of requirement defined at this stage<br />Abstract functional requirements. System functions are defined in an abstract way;<br />System properties. Non-functional requirements for the system in general are defined;<br />Undesirable characteristics. Unacceptable system behaviour is specified.<br />Should also define overall organisational objectives for the system.<br />
    27. 27. System objectives<br />Should define why a system is being procured for a particular environment.<br />Functional objectives<br />To provide a unified student administrative system that maintains all student information from initial application to graduation<br />Organisational objectives<br />To introduce common processes across the organisation for student administration<br />To improve applicants’ and students’ perception of the university<br />To reduce central administration costs<br />
    28. 28. System requirements problems<br />Complex systems are usually developed to address wicked problems<br />Problems that are not fully understood;<br />Changing as the system is being specified.<br />Must anticipate hardware/communications developments over the lifetime of the system.<br />Hard to define non-functional requirements (particularly) without knowing the component structure of the system.<br />Organisational and political issues affect the requirements<br />There is a continuing tension between control by the organisation and support of operational processes<br />
    29. 29. The system design process<br />
    30. 30. The system design process<br />Partition requirements<br />Organise requirements into related groups. <br />Identify sub-systems<br />Identify a set of sub-systems which collectively can meet the system requirements.<br />Assign requirements to sub-systems<br />Causes particular problems when COTS are integrated.<br />Specify sub-system functionality.<br />Define sub-system interfaces<br />Critical activity for parallel sub-system development.<br />
    31. 31. System design problems<br />Requirements partitioning to hardware, software and human components may involve a lot of negotiation. <br />Difficult design problems are often assumed to be readily solved using software.<br />Hardware platforms may be inappropriate for software requirements so software must compensate for this.<br />
    32. 32. Requirements and design<br />Requirements engineering and system design are inextricably linked.<br />Constraints posed by the system’s environment and other systems limit design choices so the actual design to be used may be a requirement.<br />Initial design may be necessary to structure the requirements.<br />As you do design, you learn more about the requirements.<br />
    33. 33. Spiral model of requirements/design<br />
    34. 34. Key points<br />LSCITS are tightly integrated with socio-technical systems<br />Socio-technical systems are systems whose boundaries include the business processes that these systems are intended to support and the system operators. They are influenced by a wide range of regulatory, cultural and organisational factors.<br />To develop LSCITS, we should extend traditional systems engineering with socio-technical analyses to consider how organisational factors should influence the overall STS design<br />Requirements engineering and architectural design are key phases in the LSCITS engineering process<br />